Cesareo R. Pelaez, a/k/a Marco the Magi,
“Now in His 80th Spectacular Year”
Known worldwide as Marco the Magi, the founding producer and star of “Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company,” Pelaez died at the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers on March 24.
Born on October 16, 1932, in Santa Clara, Cuba, Cesareo developed a love for theatre and magic by sitting on his father’s knee and watching magician Fu Manchu perform wonders on stage. He started his own theatre company while still a child, and his teenage variety revue, “Mirre’s Follies,” went on to play the same theatre, Teatro La Caridad, where he first saw his boyhood hero, Fu Manchu. Cesareo grew up to be a brilliant student and English teacher. At 28, following the Cuban revolution, he was chosen to be the Director of Psychometrics by the Ministry of Education for all of Las Villas Province, which included Santa Clara. Cesareo soon became disenchanted with Fidel Castro’s government. Under suspicion as a counterrevolutionary, he hid with the help of the anti-Castro underground, finally making his way to the Colombian embassy in Havana. He gained passage to Bogotá, where he was hired to teach psychology at the Pontifical University. Sensing that Colombia was ripe for revolution like Cuba, Cesareo emigrated to the United States in 1962. His passion for psychology led him to a long and rich association with Abraham Maslow, the father of humanistic psychology, at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where Cesareo studied and worked as a graduate teaching assistant for six years.In 1969, he founded and directed Cumbres (Spanish for “peaks”), a personal growth center similar to Esalen but also shaped by Maslow’s ideas, located at an old inn in Dublin, New Hampshire. He closed Cumbres at the end of 1970, and after extensive travels in Europe, Cesareo accepted an associate professorship in psychology at Salem State College in 1972. He taught there until his retirement in 1996. His dream of a resident stage magic company, forged as a child in Cuba, never grew cold. With associates, he bought the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre in Beverly in 1976, and in 1977 his extravagant production took off, headlined by Cesareo as Marco the Magi and David Bull as Le Grand David. Feature articles in TIME and Smithsonian magazines in 1980 led to seven performances at the White House, over 30 cover stories in magic periodicals, and international acclaim for the company and its founder.