Larry Weeks: Juggler Extraordinaire by David Soren

Lester Fulton Weeks, known on-stage as Larry Weeks (Salem, Massachusetts 9-24-1919- New York City, 10-13-2014) was one of the most famous jugglers in the history of vaudeville and night clubs. A naturally taught juggler from at least the age of 10, he became a professional juggler early on while growing up in the Bronx. His father Aaron, who worked for the Scandinavian Embassy, then taught him some basic magic tricks which the boy enjoyed and used in local talent shows and at Brooklyn College which he attended and where he also won the intercollegiate baton-twirling contest in 1937.

IUniversity of Arizona Vaudeville Collectionn the late 1930s Abe Hurwitz used Larry as a performer in New York City Parks with his “Peter Pan Magic Club”, an organization whose name was later changed to the Future American Magical Entertainers or FAME. Hurwitz was the father of the beautiful ventriloquist and night-club and television entertainer Shari Lewis, famous for her presentations for children with her decorated hand/pupper Lamb Chop.University of Arizona Vaudeville Collection

Eventually Larry formed his own act and small troupe called “Juggling For Fun” which primarily toured the eastern coast of the United States and also played Montreal, Canada. During this period he became known for a juggling trick that has become standard practice among jugglers: juggling apples and then taking a bite out of them as you juggle. He described his rapid-fire act as “Speedsational” and incorporating pretty assistants into the routines as well.

While he was in the army during World War II preparing to serve as a cryptographer working on enemy coded messages and putting our own communications into code, Private First Class Weeks’ phenomenal juggling talents were seen by Irving Berlin who was then writing songs for his patriotic all-military participant review This is the Army, which later became a motion picture. Weeks at the time he was put into the new project was serving at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey and performing in the camp shows there. He soon developed a juggling routine for the Berlin show designed around k.p. or army kitchen police duty where he juggled kitchen items. His act was included, in abbreviated form, in the film version of the famous military show, even though it had been, in its entirety, one of the most renowned numbers of the theatrical version of the show, which was a smash on Broadway and was seen by well over two million people after it opened on thUniversity of Arizona Vaudeville Collectione fourth of July of 1942. He was soon promoted to Corporal.

University of Arizona Vaudeville Collection

Larry Weeks doing his famous K.P. routine from This is the Army 1942-1945 and also biting each apple as he juggles them!

 

The movie version of This is the Army won an Academy Award for Best Original Musical in 1943.” Larry traveled with the theatrical version from opening night until the last show in Honolulu after the war in 1945. He also performed in countless USO shows overseas and visited numerous veterans hospitals in, by his count, 43 states in America, and was often the featured entertainer at Bond Rallies for World War II.

After the war, Larry resumed his career in vaudeville, nightclubs, ice shows, television variety shows and Broadway musicals on tour like Carousel and Carnival—juggling clubs, balls and vegetables, twirling batons, tossing flags and whirling ribbons.

In addition to his performing, Weeks collected vaudeville memorabilia, particularly as related to juggling and magic. After twww.emovieposter.com/agallery/archiveitem/623292.htmlhe great magician Harry Houdini died, seances were held to try and contact him beyond the grave and Weeks regularly attended these sessions. His fondness for Houdini and other performers who used body language and sleight-of-hand such as W. C. Fields and Charlie Chaplin led him to collect all the memorabilia he could associated with them. Later in his career he began to produced elaborate magic performances and conventions for magicians and variety performers such as himself.

From 1966 to 1979 Weeks produced 49 get-togethers, averaging four per year, known as Big Apple Conventions which highlighted performances, lectures, film clips and vendors of magic equipment.

In 1979 and 1980 he produced two spectaculars in New York starring the magician Richiardi. This life-long fan of vaudeville, magic and juggling died shortly after his 95th birthday, buried as close as possible to Houdini, of whom he was the greatest fan. At the time of his death Weeks owned the only existing print of the supposedly lost Houdini film The Grim Game.

— bio after Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brooks and other sources.

Name: Weeks
Topics: Juggling