Carlton figure

18 January 2022

Known as ‘The Human Hairpin’ Carlton – full name Arthur Carlton Phelps (1881-1942) – was one of the best comedy magicians, and card manipulators of the early 20th century and certainly one of the highest paid, earning the equivalent of over £50,000 a week at the height of his fame. He was tall and thin and accentuated his height with a wig to make his head appear elongated. He wore black tights and would speak in a falsetto voice. His nickname came about as he used to ask a member of the audience: “How would you like me for a hairpin?”  His daughter Marie instigated The Magic Circle Carlton Comedy Award in 1989. He died impoverished following the decline of the music halls and is buried in Highgate Cemetery in London.

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