This book is unlike any of our previous history books. Instead of digging through old newspapers and magazines and writing about vaudeville theaters and music halls, this story has been told by the man who lived it. During the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties, there was not a more successful magical team than Marvyn Roy and Carol. Their act, Mr. Electric, appeared at Radio City Music Hall, the London Palladium, The Latin Quarter, Gorki Park in Moscow, on the Ed Sullivan Show, The Hollywood Palace and everywhere in between. Hotels, ice shows, floor shows, night clubs, theatres, arenas and amusement parks, they did it all. With their acclaimed light bulb act, and later as the Diamond Illusionist, they traveled for years with the Liberace show. Now Marvyn has put his entire magical life into book form. Beginning with his early success as Marvyn the Silk Merchant and winning awards as a teenager at the PCAM conventions, to the time he spent working behind the counter at Floyd Thayer's Studio, to the development of his world famous act and subsequent climb to the highest rung of the show business ladder. It is a story that only Marvyn could tell and you will recognize many familiar faces along the way.
Anyone who ever dreamed of being a famous magician can now live that dream through the eyes and words of Marvyn Roy.
PEEK INSIDE MR. ELECTRIC - UNPLUGGED
Chapter 7 – The Lido
We arrived around midnight in The City of Lights. It was a cold, foggy, rainy scene. I hadn't been in Paris since the end of the Second World War with so many other tired, young soldiers on our way home. I remembered her as a vibrant, exciting city and I hoped that she would embrace us with compassion and understanding…
The Champs Elysées was a long bustling boulevard that ran from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe. Right in the middle of the boulevard, through a dramatic arcade, was the Lido de Paris. After the Second World War two energetic French entrepreneurs, the Clerico Brothers, bought what was then a run-down bathing and swimming facility and fashioned it into the most elegant and renowned cabaret in all of Europe.
The Grand Salon was a long pillared room with tufted burgundy walls that gave it a warm intimate feeling. Crowded around the elongated dance floor were tables and chairs to accommodate the multitude of visitors. At one end was a large bar area that seated some twenty guests and at the other end a dark-blue velvet curtain that, one surmised, was the entrance to a backstage world full of wonders.
"All right Marvin, Carol we are ready." He was a tall, thin man with short-cropped hair and a nervous manner. This was Rene Fraday, Artistic Director of the Lido. It was now two o'clock in the morning and the round-the-clock rehearsals momentarily stopped so that we might proceed with our act. Sitting ringside to observe was Pierre Louis Guerin, a large imposing, fastidious man who was the Managing Director and General Manager. Folco, the shy, handsome designer of the original couture-like wardrobe. Margaret Kelly, a petite, perceptive English lady who had created a unique ensemble of dancers, showgirls and models known throughout Europe as The Bluebell Girls. And then there was Donn Arden, a will-of-the-wisp and a man of many masks. He could praise you one moment and vilify you the next with equal charm. In time Donn became a good friend but always with that devilish twinkle in his eye. He was a genius when it came to melding choreography, music, lights, dance, costumes and performing artists into the brilliant, explosive, glittering extravaganza that was Lido de Paris.
The last bulb danced across the floor. We took our bow.
Mr. Guerin hurried forward, took my hand, shook it warmly and said, "Miss Abbott was right, my boy. You are Lido, welcome!" What we didn't know then was that we were the first act that Lido had booked solely on the recommendation of Merriell Abbott. Even though we had a contract we had just completed, thankfully, a successful audition!
Some months later, while having a late dinner with our dear friend Channing Pollock, he related the following tale. He had been appearing at "Nouvelle Eve" in Montmartre with his highly successful dove act. The Lido management approached him before we arrived in Paris, and said that they had booked an American magician for the new show, but had not seen him perform. Would Channing be able to double if there was a problem?
"Who is the American magician?" Pollock asked.
"Marvin Roy," they answered.
"Marvin Roy," Channing responded. "He's a pro. He'll do the job." – Thanks Chan.
"C'est Magnifique!" December 4, 1956, it was like the Fourth of July and Bastille Day all rolled into one; it was the premier cabaret gala of France. They were all there, the President of France, Maurice Chevalier, Josephine Baker, Brigitte Bardot, Zizi Jeanmaire, Jean Cocteau, Charlie Chaplin, Christian Dior, Francoise Sagan, Ramon Novarro. A rich assortment of personalities of the world of arts and letters of that glittering era. All enjoying and applauding the elegance and artistry that was the Lido spectacular christened "C'est Magnifique!"