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Carl Ballantine (1922-2009), born Meyer Kessler in Chicago, Illinois, was an American actor, magician and comic .


Under the guise of "Ballantine The Great" or "The Amazing Ballantine" and "Ballantine: The World's Greatest Magician", his trademark involves magic tricks which always flopped in comedic fashion. He is probably best remembered as "Gruber", one of the PT boat sailors in the television series McHale's Navy which aired in the 1960s.

Ballantine performed at the legendary Palace Theatre in New York and in Las Vegas in the 1940s. He later took his act to television, appearing on Garry Moore, Andy Williams, Danny Kaye and Dean Martin shows, as well as "The Hollywood Palace" and "The Tonight Show." He was a regular cast member on the 1969 sitcom "The Queen and I" and the 1980 sitcom "One in a Million." He also made guest appearances on numerous other series, sometimes appearing as a magician as in "Fantasy Island" as the Great Zachariah, on "Night Court" as the Fabulous Falconi and on "The Cosby Show" as the Great Ballantine.

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On this day March 2...

  • 1901 - Tricks, a weekly Magic Periodical published in England, began appearing on newsstands.
  • 1926 - Alan Wakeling was born.
  • 1929 - Alex Elmsley was born in St. Andrews, Scotland.
  • 1933 - Leo Behnke was born in Hollywood, California.
  • 1971 - Clayton Rawson, an American mystery writer, editor, and amateur magician died.

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