Saturday, December 5, 2015
Lowell's Irish Magician
Lowell’s Irish Magician
By Rosemary K. Nunnally
Professor Crane, the Irish Wizard, the Great Irish Magician, and Larry Crane were all stage names for Lawrence McCrann of Lowell. Lawrence was a well - known magician in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. He was a vaudeville entertainer, amazing audiences in the days before the talking pictures. When Lawrence died in December of 1950, the Lowell Sun said “His mastery of the mystic art of magic earned him the reputation of being second only to the fabulous Houdini”.
Lawrence McCrann was born in Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland in August of 1877. The family came to Lowell about 1885. Patrick McCrann and Mary Gallagher had five sons and five daughters. Lawrence started his career a magician in Lowell, performing for small audiences. As he perfected his acts, he traveled to England and Ireland, supposedly performing for royalty. Upon his return to the U.S., he was billed as “Professor Crane, of the Old World”.
Lawrence entertained at theaters and halls throughout the country. His travels can be traced through newspaper reports and advertisements of his show. In 1897 he was at the Keith Theatre in Boston. The Duluth News Tribune in Minnesota detailed his act called “Cremation” in October of 1906. The Trenton Evening News said of Larry in August of 1908: “the first Celt to make any pretentious bid for popularity in the role of a wizard is Lawrence Crane, the Irish magician. His feats in magic and puzzling illusions are punctuated with Celtic wit and humor that enhance their entertaining qualities”. The Daily Illinois State register reported on his performance at the Majestic Theatre in December of 1913: “Crane’s work is successful, not only because of the magician’s personal eloquence of manner and cleverness of words, but because of the apparent difficulty of the tricks which were carried out”.
When Lawrence was back in Lowell visiting family and friends in 1905, the Lowell Sun
reported “Prof. Crane, from the old world, is a shining example of what a poor Lowell boy can do if he has the brains, ambition and perseverance”.
As radio shows and movies became increasingly popular, vaudeville shows declined. During the 1920’s and 1930’s theaters across the country began shifting to cinema presentations.
Lawrence McCrann lived in Boston during the 1930’s and 40’s. He was listed as an actor in the Boston City Directories. He resided in a hotel at 567 Tremont Street, which is now home to luxury condominiums.
Lawrence died December 14, 1950 at the Boston City Hospital. His funeral was at St. Patrick’s Church. He is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery with his father and brother James. No headstone was found on his grave.