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Bart Kennett

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Bart Kennett
BornBartley Kennett
August 21 1877
West Virginia


Bart Kennett (1877-?), the Imp of Satan, one of the greatest African American magicians of his time, was considered black America's Howard Thurston.


An instant success when he made his first vaudeville appearance in 1913 at the age of 36, Kennett was playing to sold out crowds two weeks later. An all around magician, the Imp of Satan's shows included everything from sleight of hand to large scale illusions such as the Mystery Cabinet and Levitation. His ability and diversity on stage garnered him favorable comparisons to the great Alexander Herrmann. During his career, Kennett played vaudeville, appeared under canvas as part of a traveling minstrel show, and toured with his own roadshow. Kennett was still one America's top black magicians when he retired from the stage in 1924 to work with the Colored Actor's Union in an effort to improve working conditions for black entertainers.


  • Kennett, Bartley Draft Registration Card, September 5, 1918,
  • Hubbard, Albert, "Dayton The City Beautiful", The Chicago Defender, 12/6/1913, pg. 6
  • "Additional Stage Notes", The Chicago Defender, 3/23/1918, pg. 6
  • "Imp of Satan", The Chicago Defender, 9/2/1922, pg. 6
  • Langston, Tony, "Strut Miss Lizzie Jams the Auditorium Theater", The Chicago Defender, 9/9/1922