Larry Weeks was born Lester Fulton Weeks on September 24th, 1919 in Salem, Massachusetts (USA). He passed away on October 13th, 2014, having recently celebrated his 95th birthday. Those nine and a half decades were filled with a love for juggling and magic and many shows.
Larry and his family moved to the Bronx area of New York City in 1929. It was at this time that his father taught him a few magic tricks and how to juggle three balls. Ten year old Larry delighted in entertaining his classmates with his new found skills. As a young adult, he performed in New York, Boston and Montreal night spots with an act called “Juggling For Fun.” He earned the nickname “Speedsational” for his rapidly-paced act.
During World War II, Larry was drafted into the U.S. Army, where Irving Berlin saw his juggling act. Berlin got Weeks transferred to the company performing Berlin’s show, “This Is The Army.” Larry’s juggling routine was called “Kitchen Police,” which was an Army term for potato peelers, dish washers, and other kitchen workers. In the act, Corporal Weeks juggled potatoes instead of peeling them and also juggling knives and forks. He did some flag twirling and performed a rifle drill with a mop in the show as well.
“This Is The Army” toured military bases all over the world and even played on Broadway, performing a total of 1,200 shows for 2,300,000 audience members. In 1943, it was made into a film which featured Larry doing a very brief portion of his act. Click here to watch Larry eating an apple while juggling it and two potatoes from the film.
After World War II, Larry resumed his performing career, appearing in variety shows, night clubs, and ice skating shows. He also juggled in touring productions of the Broadway musicals Carousel and Carnival. During the late 1940s he was also a regular contributor to the Jugglers’ Bulletin. In 1947, Larry contributed to the book “Manual Of Juggling” by Max Holden, writing a chapter featuring a glossary of terms used among jugglers.
In 1949, Larry was included in the instruction manual for Harry Moll’s “Now You Can Learn Juggling” set, which was the first mass marketed juggling set.
Larry developed a juggling and magic show for the children’s market. He also developed magic props, most famously his seamless sponge balls marketed under the name of Spongecraft. He also booked other performers during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1958, Larry appeared on the cover of Genii Magazine, a well-known magic publication.
Larry was the President of the IJA in 1966. From 1966 to 1979, Larry produced 49 quarterly Big Apple Magic Conventions, which featured seminars, film showings, collector and dealer markets, and variety shows. Larry was friends with many famous magicians, including Roy Benson, Frakson, Paul Rosini, and Cardini. He was also friends with legendary 11 ball Vaudeville juggler Frank Ledent. Larry may have been the last juggler alive who saw LeDent perform.
Larry was perhaps best known as a collector of magic and, to a lesser degree, juggling props, books, films, and other paraphernalia. He was considered one of the world’s foremost collectors and experts on Harry Houdini, W.C. Fields, and Charlie Chaplin. He called himself “Houdini’s biggest fan” and amassed one of the best Houdini collections in the world, specializing in films of Houdini. Weeks had seen Harry Houdini perform when Larry was a young boy and was fascinated with the performer for the rest of this life.
Larry loved to be visited my jugglers and magicians in his apartment in New York City and would share stories and show off his incredible collections of magic and juggling items. He was a valuable resource and friend to juggling and magic historians right up to his death.
Larry Weeks was laid to rest at the Machpelah Cemetery, just a few hundred yards away from the Houdini family graves. He was interred there with a graveside Jewish service, a military honor guard, and the Society of American Magicians Broken Wand ceremony.