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Oscar Eliason - The Original ‘Dante the Great’

Chapter 10 - Frank Eliason, post-1899

It is clear that Frank Eliason continued in show business for many years to come, under the names Frank Dante, The Dantes, and then Frank Frazee.  Whilst the many countries he visited makes it difficult to compile a full trail of his journeys, the following references trace the major stages of his career, post-Oscar.
Frank’s death notice is yet to be found. The Latter Day Saints genealogy page states only that his death was ‘before 1940’.

New Zealand Herald, January 13 1900 - Edwin Geach arrived with 'The Dante company' on Sunday (7th?) and left for the Thames on Tuesday. Auckland postponed until after goldfields tour - no hall available.

A news story which received considerable re-publication was printed in the Otago Witness (NZ) on January 25 1900. “It is not generally known that Frank Dante (brother to Dante the Great) many years ago tutored Dante in the art of conjuring, and, being the elder brother, did not take to the black art professionally, since he was entitled to the family estates. He is also the inventor of the many illusions that made the name of Dante the Great famous. The new Dante (the Greatest) commenced a Moaland tour at the Thames on January 10, under the management of Mr Edwin Geach, Mr Adam Cowan in advance.”

While this may be been a useful means of giving Frank some stage credibility, it is substantially untrue, since Oscar was the elder brother (born 1869) and Frank was six years younger (born 1875). Also, as many of Oscar’s illusions were the work of others including Herrmann, this story is more of a publicist’s blurb than fact.

[NZ Herald?? ] January 26 1900 - Frank appeared at Public Hall, Onehunga.

New Zealand Herald, January 27 1900 - Review of Frank on the "goldfields & Waikato districts". To appear at New Plymouth on Monday (no date indicated).

New Zealand Herald, March 3 1900 - Mdle. Edmunda and Mr Frank Dante have returned to Sydney. It is understood that Mdle Edmunda intends to settle there.

I have a note with no date, but sourced from the NZ Mail, saying that Frank planned to go on from Thames to Wanganui, Manawatu, Wellington, and that tour ended in February 1900 due to lack of success. From April until July, 1900, Frank performed as “Dante” daily at Hudson’s Royal Waxworks in Adelaide, South Australia.

From September 29, 1900, Frank appeared in Brisbane, Queensland, with the Royal Burlesque and Specialty Co.

Stanyon's Magic, March 1901 - We have received from Mr Chas. Heather, Brisbane, the Evening Programme and Matinee Dodger of Madam Dante, wife of Dante the Great, who was killed recently while out shooting. Madam opened at the Opera House on Boxing Night last with an elaborate stage "set" replete with tables, chairs &c. The tricks performed were not exactly new, perhaps the most novel being the Organ Pipe Production, they were, however, executed with much neatness as were also the illusions "Sans Gene", "The Beggar's Dream" and "The Aerial Cyclist". We wish Madam every success and hope she has not undertaken too much.

‘Mahatma’, May 1901 - Dante, the Marvelous, (brother of the late Dante the Great), has been touring through the country towns of New South Wales.

‘Mahatma’ July 1901 - Madame Dante is not doing well with her show. Frank Dante (brother of Dante the Great) is touring for himself in Australia. Unfortunately, he has encountered many reverses.

Conjurers' Monthly Magazine, April 1903  - Frank Dante, brother of the late Dante the Great, is still in the East, and doing exceedingly well. Dante's great forte is"making good" in every place, and the public does the rest.

Stanyon's Magic, June 1902 - (From G.Anderson, dated April 1, New Zealand) Madam Dante, widow of Dante the Great, started on the road with a conjuring show but could not make it pay. She is now doing the halls with an illusionary dance, and is at present in New Zealand. Frank Dante, styling himself as "Dante the Marvellous", set out with a variety show doing a magic act but has had no luck. He is at present in West Australia.

Stanyon's Magic, November 1902 - (from D'Aveno). Dante, the marvellous brother of the late Dante the Great, is playing to profitable business in the South of Queensland.

The Sphinx, July 1903 - F.Dante, brother of the late Dante the Great is touring N.S.W and is assisted in The Beggar's Dream, the Simla Sťance and his many mystifying feats by Madame Camille. Madame Dante (widow of the late D.) is about to return to America, and will probably be tendered a well-deserved benefit before she leaves. She has made hosts of friends in the colonies.

The Sphinx, August 1903 - Dante the Marvellous is reported to be doing well in Queensland.

The Sphinx, January 1904 - Dante, the wonderful is still touring Queensland.

‘Mahatma’, January 1904 - Dante, the Marvellous, is reported to be doing well in North Queensland.

The Sphinx, April 1904 - Frank Dante, who has been presenting his entertainment of 'Magic Up To Date' for quite a considerable time in North Queensland, goes to Manila and the East.

Stanyon's Magic, May 1904 - (From Robert Kudarz). Frank Dante (brother to the late Dante the Great) is also bound East after finishing Queensland.

The Sphinx, August 1904 - Dante the Marvellous is still in Queensland, doing fair. He will visit Manila, after finishing there.

‘Mahatma’, January 1905 - Dante the Second (Oscar Eliason's brother) who picked up the business at the death of poor Oscar, is evidently progressing as favorable reports are in circulation regarding his show in West Australia
 

‘Mahatma’, February 1905 - Magic in New Zealand is represented by Kellmann, Zamoni, and Victor; Western Australia by Dante the Wonderful; and by Lazern the Mystic, in Tasmania...
 

‘Mahatma’, June 1905 (New Zealand Notes) - Mr. Percy Dix informs me that he has engaged a most wonderful conjurer, "Dante the Great," and that he arrives here next week from Australia. Let us hope that our newcomer will be more successful than any of those that have appeared under the Dixan banner of late.
 

The Sphinx, June 1905 - Dante, the American conjurer, is in Auckland [New Zealand] with Rowley's wax works and is well spoken of by the press. Abomah, the African giantess, is also with the show, as is also Dr. Rowe.Frank Eliason 1

‘Mahatma’, September 1905 - Dante has gone to Manilla where most likely he will be on the lookout for a "Plugger".
 

The Sphinx, January 1906 - Dante, the wonderful, writes me from Shanghai, where he is successfully presenting magic up-to-date and Shadowgraphy at the Lyceum Theatre.

The Sphinx, July 1906 - Dante, the Wonderful, is in India doing well, so much that he was unable to cope with the receipts single-handed, and wisely called in Cupid, who did the tricks. Congratulations, Frank, from Maoriland.

The Sphinx, June 1907 - Frank Dante while in India got laid up in the Sassoon Hospital at Poona, with enteric. Glad to say he all right again and doing business satisfactorily, alike to himself and his audience. After Rangoon he proceeds to Penang and the Malay states.

Magic Mirror (magazine of the Australian Society of Magicians), March 15 1909 - Frank Dante has left Manila and is touring Southern Islands with a good show.

Edwards Monthly, September 1909 - Before this appears in print, Frank Dante will have jumped from the East to the West, having left Yokohoma, Japan, for Seattle, Wash., U. S. A., en route to Alaska, where he is engaged to present the remarkable performances he has been giving for this long time in the East. Frank must indeed be quite an Oriental scholar by this time.

Daily Alaska Dispatch (Juneau, Alaska) October 7 1909 – A large sized house greeted the Dante-Durwood performance at the Natatorium last night. The bill was given as advertised and the  spectators all speak highly of the program. The same company will appear at the Natatorium this evening.Frank Eliason 2

Bellingham, November 19 1909 – A Man Creates Quite a Sensation. At Pantages theatre last night the management had on their program an act that created quite a sensation. The audience was very much surprised and stunned, but nevertheless, whether it is real or a trick, the Dantes are very clever in their act of Semla Sceance [sic] which they are presenting the last part of this week.

Anaconda Standard, Montana, December 26, 1909 – The ‘Empire’ bill for this week will be headed by the great Dantes, styled English wonder workers. The Dantes have just returned from a highly successful tour of New Zealand, Australia, India, Philippines, China and Japan. The papers in these countries speak in the highest terms of the Dantes, whom they declare to be the most wonderful people in their line ever seen on stage.

It appears that Frank had married (refer The Sphinx 1906, above), possibly to the Madame Camille mentioned in The Sphinx 1903, but no details are currently known. The title being used for their version of the Sťance Act, the “Simla Sťance”, was also in use by others before and after, so at a later stage the name was changed to the “Fujiyama Sťance”.Frank Eliason 3

Lexington Herald, September 6 1910 (Hippodrome) – The Dantes introduce an illusion which makes those in the audience feel in their pockets to make sure their cash is safe. Dante, shut in a cabinet, bound to a chair, hands and feet tied, with no possible chance of using either, rings bells, shoots a pistol and does various strenuous stunts while a committee brought on for the express purpose of finding out just how the stunts are worked, look on dumbfounded. He closes his work by freeing himself from his bonds in the merest fraction of a second.

Lexington Herald, September 8, 1910 (Hippodrome) – … the Dantes, who are presenting an innovation in the shape of a shadowgraph production…

Now, the stage name “Frank Frazee” makes an appearance in connection with Frank’s (solo?) shadowgraphy routine.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 8, 1910 - Frazee's shadowgraphs were artistic. Jack Brown had a hilarious time on roller skates.

Pittsburg Press, November 8, 1910 - The bill was headed by Prince Albene and May La Brant in a clairvoyant offering ... Frazee shadowgraphs proved very diverting.

Sun, Baltimore Maryland, January 29, 1911 – The Dantes advertisement promising ‘Hand Silhouettes, Fujiyama and mirthful mystery.’

Daily News, Greensboro, North Carolina, March 10, 1911 – The Dantes appearing at the Bijou.

Winston-Salem Journal, North Carolina, March 21 1911 -Last night the Pickwick was packed to the doors at each show and many went away on account of not being able to gain admission.
The marvellous and mysterious work of the Dantes is already the talk of the town, in spite of the fact that they have only given three performances.
"If this is not spiritualism you will certainly give me credit for being mighty quick", remarked Dante at  the close of the performance yesterday afternoon. And his was the general opinion of the audience, for he certainly gave a more entertaining exhibition of mysterious work than was ever before witnessed in this city.

He enters a cabinet standing in the middle of the stage and raised but one foot from the floor, with a rope tied in many knots which had been previously examined by a committee from the audience. In less time than it takes to tell it the curtain of the cabinet is pulled back by the lady attendant and Dante is seated in a chair bound hand and foot. Each time the curtain is drawn cow and sleigh bells are rung, horns are blown and all sorts of tricks performed, but the committee on the stage closely watching the cabinet and being permitted to draw the curtain back the instant the least noise was heard, was unable to detect the least effort on the part of Dante as being the cause for the ringing of the bells and the blowing of the horn. To make his work more mysterious he has the committee seals his hands with court plaster and while the horn was being sounded he had a mouthful of water.
Dante will be at the Pickwick Tuesday and Wednesday.Frank Eliason 4

Magic Mirror, August 15 1911 - Frank Dante in United States. He styles himself "Cunning" and has some startling billing out. [This is unclear in meaning; there is no indication that Frank was billed under the name “Cunning”, and there were others performing as 'Cunning', ie Cunning the Jail Breaker].

Washington Herald, April 6 1911 – One of the novelty acts of the season is billed for the Cosmos for next week – the Dantes in their own creation, a “Fujiyama Sťance.” The act is said to be a complete mystery and would seem to be a combination of black art, magic, and humor.

Evening Star, Washington, April 9 1911 – Fun, magic, mystery and illusion are combined in the “Fujiyama” sťances as they will be given by the  Dantes this week at the  Cosmos Theater. Their methods are original and the quickness and dexterity with which the tricks and effects are worked will excite interest. No occult claims are made for the work. Whatever merits it may possess in the mystery line are said to be overshadowed by the comedy elements, which reign supreme.

Player, January 12 1912 - Mrs. Frank Dante, of The Dantes, sailed for Sydney, Australia, from San Francisco, on Jan.10. Mrs Dante lost her health while touring through India and China and sails for Australia in the hope that the climate of that country will help her to regain her health and strength.

New York Clipper, April 13 1912 - [Proctor's Twenty-third Street] As a shadowgraph artist, Frazee performed some clever and amusing work. His pictures of animal and well known persons were watched with interest. He closed with a comedy playlet, in one scene, which received hearty applause.

Boston Herald, January 9 1913 - Frank Eliason of Salt Lake City, U. who was discharged from the City Hospital yesterday after a siege of pneumonia, will today be asked by the police of station 5 to swear to a warrant asking for the arrest of a hospital orderly. This orderly is alleged to have appropriated $35 belonging to Eliason and to have decamped for parts unknown.
Eliason, who is a vaudeville performer and whose stage name is Frank Frazee, it was learned yesterday, went to the hospital on Dec. 23. The orderly assigned to assist him in undressing, he charges, took all but 15 cents of his money, saying he was going to deposit it in the office for safe keeping. He then disappeared, it is alleged. The authorities at the hospital say the hospital will stand responsible for the loss.

The Sphinx, November 1913 - Frank Dante, brother of Dante the Great (accidentally shot in Australia some time ago), is doing shadowgraphy at several of the local theaters.

Harrisburg Telegraph, June 18 1914 - The third act on the bill is a silent one, but nevertheless pleasing. It is an exhibition of shadowgraphy by Frazee.

Variety, November 1914 - [possibly appearing at Princess Theatre St Louis?]

Variety, May 13 1921 - Ill and Injured - Frank Frazee, vaudeville, fell, fracturing his skull. Taken to Bellevue Hospital in a serious condition.

The Sphinx, March 1942, page 15. -  An article by Eugene Laurant. [referring to a date which appears to be 1898] In Salt Lake City, I met Oscar Eliasson [sic], a young, well-informed magician who had taken "Dante" as his stage name. At that time he was assisted by his brother, Frank, in presenting a so-called Spirit Sťance - a feature which aroused much comment. He was enthusiastically preparing for a tour of Australia, where he hoped to make a double reputation for himself as magician and hunter. Not long after our chance meeting, word came from Australia that Eliasson [sic] had been killed in an accident while hunting kangaroos. Years later, I met his brother Frank again; he was performing the Spirit Sťance in vaudeville. It was a beautiful act, thoroughly mystifying. Even today I can say I have never seen the Sťance more artistically presented.

 

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