Dantini’s “Star-Spangled City: Our Baltimore”


The Star-Spangled City: Our Baltimore (1978)
directed by Vincent Dantini
(Dantini Films, 1978, 27 minutes, color, 16mm)

This labor of love was directed, produced and narrated by hometown history buff and magician Vincent Dantini (I caught his act at the old Peabody Book Shop and Beer Stube on Charles Street where he gave me a business card that said “Dantini – He Knew Houdini!”), who passed away in 1979. After years on the vaudeville circuit, Dantini settled back home to perform magic in night clubs and occasionaly put on a scary show at movie theatres in the area, as the poster below illustrates:


Dantini “Spook Show” at the Edgewood Theatre

Star-Spangled City was the Fells Point resident’s fourth and final film and Dantini rented out the 13,500-seat Baltimore Civic Center (what today is the 1st Mariner Arena) for its 1978 premiere – and allegedly lost $5,000 when only 60 people showed up! Besides featuring guest appearances by Blaze Starr, City Councilman Mimi DiPietro, and Mayor William Donald Schaefer, it also offered a look at one of the earliest Baltimore City Fairs. There are two 16mm print versions in the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s archives – a 27-minute one-reeler and an hour-length two-reeler print, the latter managing to capture a fire in the background while Dantini is touring the Inner Harbor!

Pratt also has a film about Dantini – whose real name was Vincent Cierkes – Chris Buchman’s Dantini the Magnificent (1968); described as a “film poem,” the 17-minute film documents a day in the life of the magician as he walks around Fells Point.
Check this item in the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s catalog

This entry was posted in Baltimore Films and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Dantini’s “Star-Spangled City: Our Baltimore”

  1. M Bahr says:

    Mr. Warner — my father drew the portrait of Dantini that you have posted. This image is copyrighted, which you do not have stated along with its title, AND you have misspelled my father’s name — it is Leonard M. Bahr. I would like to know exactly where you got the drawing of Dantini to begin with, as this image is not in the public domain as of yet. Please let me know you have received this message by posting a reply. Thank you.

  2. M. Bahr: Image has been removed. Thanks, Scott H.

  3. Dick Nixon says:

    Way to stay litigious, tough guy.

  4. mike palmere says:

    Ah worked with him way back..early 50 .was a very young trumpet player..somewhere at a nightclub near military post in balto.

  5. Bob Speckin says:

    When I was stationed at FT Meade Maryland back in late 69 and early 70 I would go to Peabody’s on the weekends. One night Dantini got me up on the stage. We struck up a friendship and he would call me up on stage sometimes to be part of his act. He took me to some back alley magic shop and bought me a deck of magic cards and I watched local magicians do some acts on a small stage. He gave me a couple of old magic books with Houdini on the front. Later they were stolen out of my locker along with the cards. Some of the small tricks he taught me I still do. We had many private conversations and when I left the service I missed the old guy. I Dont’t know if this means anything to anybody. I just hadn’t thought of him for years , so I digress….

  6. Maureen McGuire says:

    Peabody’s was my favorite stop in the big city of Baltimore back when I lived on a farm in Glenville, PA in the 70’s. The Great Dantini chose me from the audience one night to be part of the act, “the girl”. I was thrilled. I too had not thought about him for ages, I heard his name on “This American Life” PBS radio show, week of July 21, 2018. Ira Glass, the host, was a kid when he met Dantini who gave him tips of the magician trade. That’s what the show was about, the magician trade. I looked online to see what I could find and this website popped up. so glad. One of my happiest memories, restored. I am going to check out the films at the library. It is my mission now. Thank you for this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.