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BU’s Favorite Hypnotist Passes Away

Frank Santos, 60, dies in his sleep a week after GSU performance

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He had become an annual tradition ushering in the new school year, one of the most popular performers to come to campus. So when Frank Santos, Sr., took to the Metcalf Ballroom stage in the George Sherman Union on September 12, it was no surprise that the line of people hoping to see his hypnotic performance snaked down Commonwealth Avenue to the Tsai Performance Center.

No one could have known that they were seeing one of his last appearances. Santos, a hypnotist who could make his volunteers fall in love or belt out Backstreet Boys songs, died in his sleep on Tuesday, September 20, at age 60.

“He absolutely loved working for BU,” says his son Frank Santos, Jr. For his last show here, “I remember him saying that it was so busy when he went in, he thought he was late. They had to open up another room with another TV.”

Santos’ act was popular for his skill and a ribald sense of humor that often became R-rated. Under hypnosis, volunteers seemed to lose all inhibitions, saying and doing outrageous things they wouldn’t remember when they emerged. For example, Santos was famous for getting students into outrageous garb and sending them into the Union Court.

His son began watching Santos’ shows when he was four years old. For 15 years he worked alongside his father, learning the tricks of the trade. Frank Jr. now performs his own hypnosis on stges throughout New England.

The two Franks shared the stage as well as a sense of humor. “He was hilarious and fun and a great person,” his son says.

Josh Friedman, host of student-run WTBU’s radio show Taken Out of Context, was scheduled to interview Santos October 8, and planned to have him hypnotize volunteers on air.

“I sent him an e-mail, not expecting to hear anything, because he’s very well known,” Friedman (CAS’10) says. “He said he’d love to do it and was really nice about it.” Friedman had lined up volunteers to be hypnotized and had a couple of BU T-shirts for Santos as thanks for coming. Santos requested Rhett the Terrier shirts.

When e-mail correspondence with Santos abruptly stopped, Friedman assumed he was busy — and then the sad news arrived.

Does Frank Jr. hope to step into his father’s footsteps and continue the popular BU tradition?

“If they want me to come back and do what my father did,” he says, “I would love to."

Anna Webster can be reached at annaweb@bu.edu.

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