Acclaimed science fiction author Ray Bradbury often recounted an event from his childhood that set him on a lifelong path of writing stories. In 1932, 12-year-old Bradbury saw a magician named Mr. Electrico performing amazing feats of electrical manipulation at a circus sideshow. The showman declared the boy immortal and so impressed Bradbury that he went back for a second performance a couple of days later and met the magician. The experience was so profound for Bradbury that he recounted it over and over after he had achieved fame for his books and short stories. He even made Mr. Electrico a character in his 1962 novel Something Wicked This Way Comes.
But although Bradbury had plenty of details about the encounter with Mr. Electrico, some details tended to change, and didn’t quite match up with the historical timeline. Researchers and Bradbury fans have tried to track down Mr. Electrico or the circus he accompanied and came up empty-handed. There were plenty of shows featuring the magic of electricity, which was still fairly new in the early 20th century, but no one has pinned down Bradbury’s Mr. Electrico. Read about Bradbury’s memories and the search for the real thing at Smithsonian.
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(Illustration credit: Meilan Solly)