ALI SHUDUNE, "The Magician", is a role played by Norman Johnson, a former native of Ohio. He is now a retired Philadelphia Postal employee.
Today, Johnson is not as active on stage as he once was - back in the '30s and '4Os. Those were the "Golden Years Of Magic." Although times have changed, Johnson still keeps his love for magic alive by giving an occasional performance for The Boy Scouts Of America, YMCA groups, and a few birthday parties in and around Philadelphia.
Johnson learned the secrets of Magic early in life from a Gilbert Mysto-Magic Set, he got as a gift for Christmas. At first, magic was a fascinating hobby. Then, one evening, the great out-door showman and magician, Lewis E. Collins, known as The Great "Roba" Collins, saw Johnson perform in an amateur contest held at a theater in Johnson's home-town.
The Great "Roba" immediately recognized Johnson's potentials as an actor-magician. "Roba" persuaded Johnson's parents to let him travel with the "Curl's Greater Shows", a small carnival that toured the Mid-western states during the summer months.
While traveling with this show, the famous name Ali Shudune, "The Oriental Wonder Worker", was born. Under the guidance of "Roba" Collins, Johnson developed an Oriental Act that became a featured attraction on several Circus and Carnival Side Shows, a career Johnson abandoned in the mid-'44 to attend a University
After graduation, Johnson framed a full evening illusion show that featured "The Burning Alive Illusion", "The Broom Suspension", and the "Egyptian Mummy Case". His travels the next few years took him mostly through the mud poor, back-area communities of the Southern states.
The public saw Ali Shudune as a Magi who had learned his secrets in the Mystic Orient. On stage, Johnson was unique. He amazed his audience by throwing phrases of high school French into his act, wore an Oriental costume complete with turban, and sometimes a sword. He looked almost Turkish, but that didn't matter; even in the segregated South of the '4Os, he was welcome, honored, and respected.
Although Ali Shudune, "The Oridntal Wonder Worker", was welcome; the real person of Norman Johnson wasn't. He was BLACK - and his act was an illusion -- a double illusion, because Ali Shudune was no more Oriental than ladies can float in air, without support