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:

  • Adver­tise­ments in Bill­board mag­a­zine here, here and here.

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