Joan Brandon

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Biography: Pat Collins was certainly not the first female stage hypnotist. There were many others, but most have been forgotten

In the decade before Pat Collins there was a female stage hypnotist named Joan Brandon. In her books, she describes herself as a third-generation hypnotist, although it is probably more precise to say she was a three-generation stage magician who was also a stage hypnotist. (According to her books, her father was also a stage hypnotist but he is never identified, so that is difficult to verify.) About the only reason she is remembered now is that she is probably the first to write and publish a number of books on hypnosis (which are listed below.)

History: Besides her books, and some advertisements in Billboard magazine, there is very little additional information about her available. According to my research, she appears in an article by Ralph Daigh in Look Magazine July 10, 1956, entitled 'Mysteries of Hypnosis'  which includes her. (Given the time frame, I would expect the article was related to "Bridey Murphy".)

What I can tell from entries in Billboard magazine is that she initially had a stage magic act as far back as 1942 (here) working the cocktail bar circuit and continuing into 1950 (here): its only later (at least 1956) that she is identified as a stage hypnotist.

Her book "Help Yourself Though Hypnotism" says in her 'About the Author' section:

  • Miss Brandon had presented demonstrations of hypnotism before many medical groups and has explained how hypnosis may be used therapeutically. She has also give lectures and demonstrations at universities so that the faculty and students may have a better understanding of the art of hypnosis.
  • Joan Brandon has traveled extensively and has appeared in Europe, Australia, South America, Canada, Cuba, Mexico and each of the forty-eight states. She has appeared before numerous members of royalty.
  • Her forte is mass hypnosis. She hypnotizes a group of volunteers from he audience and offers a reward of ten-thousand dollars if anyone can prove that she uses confederates to pretend that they are hypnotized.

However, I was able to find this entry, from the personal reminiscences of John Healy, here:

Irving Schreckinger was an attractive, quiet, dapper man with jet black hair, a pencil moustache and a deep cleft in his chin. … He lived with his mother but had a long term relationship with a serious shiksa fantasy in the person of the statuesque Joan Brandon, a blond professional hypnotist with, literally, mesmerizing, slightly hyper-thyroid green eyes. Joan was generously endowed and wore strapless dresses that left little to the imagination and the two of them gave off a smoldering, quiet but desperate carnality in each other's company. For my father's Christmas Eve birthday party each year Irv would arrive first in his black Chesterfield overcoat, accompanying his mother, an elegant, tough old Jewish lady who liked to socialize. Then he would escort her home and come back again with Joan to enjoy the rest of the evening. He promised Joan he would marry her once his mother passed away but Irv got throat cancer and died first and at the wake there were two lines for offering condolences, one for his mother and one for Joan.

The aforementioned Joan Brandon taught me how to rip phone books in half at our cabaña there and how to pull tablecloths out from under things, both of which caused a lot of mess and trouble as it became clear I did not have a natural talent. At dinner one evening in the main dining room she had us all stand back from a large round table set to the nines with many glasses and plates and candle sticks and she pulled the tablecloth off in one brisk motion that left everything standing with hardly a shiver.

According to my research, Irving Schreckinger was at one time Joan's attorney before becoming a judge on the Bronx City Court.

Another interesting entry I discovered was in "Photographic Lighting" (published 1971, American Photographic Book Club) which has an entry on shooting an impromptu demonstration of stage hypnosis. The entry may include copies of the images taken but the limited entry found doesn't include them.

She also appears to been one of the guests on "Long John" Nebbel's radio program "Hypnosis" on February 5, 1967, along with guests Richard Kollmer (ambiguous: a person with this name was a survivor of the Hindenberg disaster while another played "Boston Blackie" on the radio), Joseph Lampl (hypnotist who produced a hypnosis record on stopping smoking), James Donnelly (hypnotherapist?) and John Kolish (hypnotist).

Commentary: Every one of her books has an extensive collection of photographs from her stage shows, all of which denote that she was a successful stage hypnotist and a stunning beauty as well. I just wish I could find out more about her.

Bibliography:

  • "The Art of Hypnotism" (Fawcett Publicaitons #308, 1956) — This book was adapted from "Successful Hypnotism" with mateial on the Bridey Murphy phenomenon added. Interestingly enough, there is an ad for "The Search for Bridey Murphy" on the inside, and the back cover is a full-page ad for several of Melvin Powers' books on hypnosis.
  • "Help Yourself Thru Hypnotism and Self-Hypnosis" (self-published, undated) — An abridged version of her other books, it also contains reprinted press articles and comments about her show, as well as a note that says she has performed on television for the BBC (London) and NBC, CBS and Dumont in the US.
  • "The Science of Self-Hypnosis" (self-published, 1959) — This book also contains two pages of press notices from her shows.
  • "Successful Hypnotism" (Stravon Publishers, 1956) — This book contains a large section devoted to photographs and commentary on her stage hypnosis routine. There are even two photographs of the photographer being hypnotized without his conscious awareness of it.

References:

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