|Born||Charles Henry Fine|
August 29, 1910
Middle Creek, Tennessee
|Died||November 2, 1971 (age 61) |
|Resting place||Shiloh Cemetery, Pigeon Forge, Sevier County, Tennessee|
Charles Henry Fine (1910-1971) performed escapes as "The Great Dank".
After seeing ad in a magazine "Learn to be a Magician" while recovering from influenza, he wrote to Harry Houdini expressing his interest in magic escapes. Houdini answered with two pictures along with information and words of encouragement. Fine soon ordered the Tarbell Course in Magic from Chicago. After studying for almost three years and making trips back and forth to Chicago for tests, he was presented a diploma from Harlan Tarbell School of Magic at the age of 22. On November 4, 1932, he was admitted to the Society of American Magicians. He would also later join the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Fine would start to use the name "The Great Dank" when performing, which was a given to him as a child by a neighbor.
Also a student of ventriloquism, he crafted a dummy out of wood which he named Willie.
Fine would meet Joseph J. Kolar, an escape artist who had worked for Houdini for 12 years, and take a course in escapes. He would be recognized by the Society of American Magicians by being voted second best to Houdini at the society’s national conference in Chicago.
On April 16, 1933, Fine performed an escape from a wooden coffin that was lowered into a 7-foot-deep grave, near his home at Middle Creek. The Great Dank also gave a free exhibition on August 5, 1933, in the Little Pigeon River, where an estimated crowd of 2,000 watched. Handcuffed and shackled with a chain holding his arms securely, he was thrown in the river. He made his escape and swam to safety in about thirty seconds.
After traveling around the country, Fine returned home to take care of his sick mother. He would get married on January 10, 1942 and within six months he was drafted into military service. After his discharge from the Army, Fine repaired watches and clocks for friends and neighbors. In 1947 he began selling watches and doing repairs at Robertson Brothers Hardware Co. Within a few years he was operating his Fine’s Jewelry Store, where he would sell jewelry and repair watches for the next two decades.