Weehawken, New Jersey
|Died||November 12, 1994 |
New York, New York
Jane Thurston (1909-1994) was the stepdaughter of Howard Thurston. She performed her own magic act as a featured attraction from the age of sixteen in Thurston's 1928 shows, combining magic with singing and dancing, until the Thurston shows ended in 1935.
The daughter of Nina Leotha Fielding of Nova Scotia and John R. Willadsen of New Jersey, who's marriage did not last. Her mom, who had appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies, met and married Howard Thurston in 1914 when Jane was five years old.
After her dad died, she worked with George and Herman Hanson to learn her father's Floating Ball and Spirit Cabinet routines. She lost interest, but went to New York were she used parts of the act in night clubs.
In 1941, she started to give up show business, but became a member of the first squadron of the Civil Air Patrol when war was declared.
She would work several years as a performer and songwriter composing under the name Gene Willadsen, using a male name because the ASCAP songwriter's union was restricted to men at the time.
She married flight engineer, Guy Lynn, and then after Lynn's death married Dick Shepard, a retired Navy Captain.
Awards and honors
- Special Fellowship from the Academy of Magical Arts (1980)
- Honoree at Magic Collectors' Weekend (1980)
- Our Life of Magic (1989) w/ Howard Thurston, Robert E. Olson, Phil Temple