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By Jim Peterson
Our Club Historian
Bert Allerton The Close-Up Magician
In America during the 30's and 40's, leading night club magicians such as Paul Rosini and John Booth frequently worked customer's tables between floor show appearances. But although many skillful performers made table work a successful part of their work it was Bert Allerton who became the first exclusively close-up magician.
Bert made his mark entertaining at the individual tables in such spots as the Cotillion Room of the Hotel Pierre in New York City and the Pump Room of the Ambassador East in Chicago. There was a leaflet on each table telling about Mr. Allerton and indicating that his services were available for a fee of (you won't believe this. It was a different time.) five dollars.
From the moment that Bert sat down with a group, he communicated a warmth and joy in his work that was irresistible. Although his emphasis was on fun and though he interspersed his tricks with non-magical gags, to his most sophisticated spectators his tricks were miracles.
Two of Bert's most effective tricks were "The Nest of envelopes" devised by Paul Le Paul and the "Vanishing Bird Cage". He performed the Vanishing Bird Cage under the spectator's nose while seated at a table. The very idea of using the "get ready" for the vanish as a trick in itself, the surprising "production" of the cage, was a stroke of genius.
Bert Allen Gustafson was born on January 1, 1889, in Lynn Center, Illinois. After serving overseas in the first World War, he became a salesman for the Sun Oil Company. He became interested in magic in 1934 when given a set of Tarbell Course lessons by the printer who had multigraphed the original course. Following the death of his wife, Bernice in 1935, he turned to magic. First as an absorbing interest and then, beginning in 1939, as a full time profession.
He died on February 22, 1958, in Elgin, Illinois. He was a past-president of the Chicago Assembly of the Society of American Magicians and a past national president of the Society.
Inez Blackstone Kitchen
I spoke with Inez, for the last time, at the 1976 Abbotts Get-Together in Colon, Michigan. Inez would come every year to renew lifelong friendships made when the Blackstone Show spent the summer there starting in the 1920s.
Anna Inez Nourse was born on June 23, 1889 in Fox Lake, Wisconsin. In her teens she played the piano accompaniments for silent movies in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin and along the way she learned to play the banjo. Soon she was playing banjo with the Reed St. John Trio and Crossman's Banjophiends. She left the trio and on her own played vaudeville. There she met Harry Bouton and his borther Pete who had an act called "Straight and Crooked Magic".
Harry married Inez Nourse in Ingallston, Michigan on November 3, 1919 and the act became known as "Harry Bouton and Company". Harry performed magic and Inez played the banjo. Inez said the show was a god-awful mess. The equipment looked terrible, the wardrobe was dreadful and Harry didn't even speak good English.
Gradually the show improved with her help. Harry got a price break on buying old Fredrik the Great lithos and the show was advertised as the Fredrik the Great Magic Show. However, it was 1917. The United States had just entered World War 1 and everyone thought that the Fredrik the Great Magic Show was German.
Harry and Inez discussed the situation. By this time she had become a force both with the show and his life. After the show, one night, Inez and Harry took a walk. They passed through a park and spotted a big billboard. It advertised a brand of cigars and had one word on it:"Blackstone". Harry abandoned "Fredrik the Great and became "Blackstone".
Harry and Inez were having their troubles. In 1930 - 11 years after they had married and 14 years after they had first met Harry and Inez got divorced. Inez know the ins and outs of trouping a magic show, her experience qualified her as a manager, so she took on the show of S.S. Henry. Eventually she married Robert Kitchen, the brother of Maurice Kitchen. Maurice Kitchen trouped under the name of Rajah Raboid. Raboid was famous for mentalism, fortune-telling and second sight successes.
Inez lived in Sarasota with Bob Kitchen. She was the force behind the establishment of Ring 81, But on that August night, many years ago in Colon, she said she wished she had stayed with Harry. Inez died in October 1983, at the age of ninety-four.
The Blackstone Book of Magic and Illusion by Charles Reynolds
Blackstone, A Magician's Life by Daniel Waldron
Inez Blackstone Kitchen Honored
In 1974, RING 81, Sarasota, Florida, honored Inez Blackstone Kitchen in recognition of her service as Ring President for 25 years.
It all began in the Fall of 1916 when Inez Nourse joined the Harry Blackstone Show to play the banjo. It ended in 1930, 11 years after they had married and 14 years after they had first met. A few years later she married Robert Kitchen, the brother of Maurice Kitchen. Maurice Kitchen trouped under the name of Rajah Raboid. Embracing the crystal gazer's stance on stage and off, "Raboid" was famous for his mentalism, fortune-telling and second sight successes.
Inez never forgot Blackstone or magic and she often said the worst thing she did was divorce Harry and leave the show. She remained close to the people she met in Show Business and in 1949, living in Sarasota, Florida she was the force behind the founding of Ring 81.
At the February meeting, in 1974 with 29 members present, William Preston, I.B.M.'s Ring Coordinator presented Inez a beautiful plaque, engraved as follows:
"This plaque is presented to our own Inez Blackstone Kitchen in appreciation of her services as president for a quarter of a century. Her dedication and devotion has been greatly responsible for the success and growth we have achieved.
With this presentation, we are pleased to approve her as president Emeritus of Ring No. 81 as a token of our high esteem for her.
We hereby declare that henceforth this organization shall be known as "The Inez Black stone Kitchen Ring No. 81" International Brotherhood of Magicians".
Inez Blackstone Kitchen died at the age of 94 in 1983. She is interred at Manasota Cemetery. Her husband Bob Kitchen, passed away in the 1960's and for years afterward she lived in a mobile home park in Sarasota and went north during the hot summers to visit with magic friends and to attend the Abbott's Magic Get-Together in Colon, Michigan.
Re: The Linking Ring May 1974
Blackstone A Magician's Life
Tony Dunn Illustrator/Magician
Tony Dunn did his first published magic art project in 1981 when he illustrated his own lecture notes for a Sacramento, California convention. Cartoons for Genii magazine followed in 1981 and 1982 and two of Tony's black and white drawings hang in the Magic Castle.
In November 1992, Tony contracted to work for theLinking Ring's Executive Editor Phil Willmarth to typeset and do layout for the journal. In this capacity, Tony contributes much of his time and graphic talents both to the journal and numerous other projects for the I.B.M. He has designed several items for the I.B.M., including their stationery, Linking Ring stationery, brochures, awards and certificates.
He is the past president of I.B.M. Ring No. 74 in Syracuse, New York, Ring No. 31 in Madison, Wisconsin and the Houdini Club of Wisconsin, and currently belongs to Ring No. 303 in Ft. Myers, Florida and Ring No. 81 in Sarasota, Florida. Tony is also a member of the Magic Collectors Association and actively collects magic magazines.
Besides his work for the Linking Ring, Dunn has illustrated a number of books on magic. In 1996, Tony executed over 2000 illustrations for three volumes of Paul Harris' "The Art of Astonishment" and also typeset and designed the book. In 2006 he illustrated the book "Switch" which documents the $100 bill change. It's hard to pick up a book today that has not be illustrated by Tony Dunn.
Although Tony keeps busy illustrating, he still enjoys performing when he can. While he has a great interest in close-up magic and has received his Ph.D. at Fechter's Finger Flicking Frolic convention, Tony performs mostly stand-up adult shows.
Tony Dunn attended Syracuse University and graduated in 1970 with a Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Art History. Influenced by such great artists as Beardsly and Bruegel, Tony is a serious student of art. Nonetheless, the magic art of Nelson Hahne has had a great impact on him. Tony considers himself primarily a linear artist and is particularly fond of the contrast between black and white. He believes that his background in drafting led to this interest in heightened contrast when illustrating. Tony's favorite medium is pen and ink. He has also done some explanatory drawings for effects in pencil – a medium which isn't used very often in magic illustration..
We are all lucky to have Tony Dunn as a friend and member of the magic community in Florida.
Re: The Art of Deception The Affinity Between Conjuring and Art Page 284
Albert Goshman "The Baker Who is a Faker"
On Saturday afternoons, in those happy days just after World War II, it was customary for Albert Goshman to go down town New York City and drift around three magic shops to hear and see what was new. He visited Max Holden, Lou Tannen and Stuart Robson (later Abbott's). There he learned close-up magic. He had no act, but just simply tacked together a few tricks.
Albert, the oldest of five children, was born in Brooklyn, December 6th, 1920. With his brothers and father, he was a baker until about 1958, when he was 38 years old and the business closed down. At loose ends after the bakery closed, Albert put together a lecture on magic and obtained a dozen bookings for it across the country, ending up in Hollywood with a December 1963 appearance at the recently opened Magic Castle.
Arriving at the Magic Castle he introduced himself to Milt Larsen as "The Baker Who is a Faker." He said he did magic with bottle caps and salt shakers. Obviously Albert would never fit into the Victorian elegance and sophistication of the Magic Castle. What a crazy idea!
Albert Goshman, who planned only to do a lecture and stay in California two weeks, extended his stay about 22 years. Helped by Dai Vernon and Francis Finneran Carlyle he put together a great 21 minute Close-Up Act.
He parlayed his ability with tricks with sponge balls into a huge business....a tiny plant that made millions of sponge balls and clown noses AND money! Goshman gave up kneading dough in Brooklyn and ended up making dough in Hollywood. He never learned to dress. He always looked as rumpled as a unmade bed dressed in clothes that needed dry cleaning a week ago.
As a magician Albert was a perfectionist, he never stopped working on his act. His theater was a table top. He was the star of his show and his hands were his co-stars. I saw him perform at the Castle in 1973 and he was great. Today his is a legend in modern magic.
re: Conjurians' Discoveries John Booth page 243
Magic by Gosh Patrick Page and Albert Goshman page 11
Richard Himber loved magic and spent a lot of time in Lou Tannen's Magic Shop located on 120 West 42nd Street in New York City. In the 50's Dick formed Himber's Custombilt Magic and introduced the world to many new effects, such as The Himber Wallet, Staggering and The Pepsi Vanish to name a few. It was Sam Schwartz who suggested to Himber that he redesign and market a variation of the Yawning Mouth Puzzle, which was first written up before 1700. That puzzle became the prize winning trick Bill-Fooled.
Himber was certainly one of the last "Characters" in magic. During the last fifteen years of his life he would call Harry Lorayne every morning at about two or three o'clock. That was the middle of the night. Dick was either hated or loved.
Himber had very few friends. His antics and tirades drove most people away from him.
Schwarzman remembers a time when Himber was looking for a nut or bolt of a certain size for a trick. He went to a hardware store in New York City and asked the proprietor if he had the item. The man was busy with another customer and directed Himber to an area where there were about 35 or 40 boxes of nuts and bolts. Each box contained perhaps 50 to 100 pieces of each size. Dick proceeded to empty the contents of all the boxes onto the counter top and stir them around as he looked. Not finding what he was after, he left the store waving to the owner and saying, "You don't have what I want." Can you imagine the reaction of the hardware store man as he discovered thousands of mixed nuts and bolts....apoplexy, immediately followed by the desire to kill!
Richard Himber was a complex man of many moods. He was born and grew up in Newark, New Jersey. In 1929, Himber became secretary to Rudy Vallee, the orchestra leader and he later attributed much of his success to him. In 1932 Himber formed his own band and in the 60's Pepsi-Cola sponsored open air concerts that Himber and his 25 man orchestra gave in Rockefeller Center and other places.
Cliff Green said that there were only five or six people at his funeral. For all the years that Dick was associated with show business, as an orchestra leader and magician only a few came to bid him farewell. Himber was 59 years old.
re: MUM Magazine, June 2007
Richard Himber, "The Man and His Magic:
The Himber Wallet Book......Written by Harry Lorayne
Gibeciere/ Winter 2005
International Brotherhood of Magicians
While working on the program for the Ring 81 Fund Raiser this October I suddenly wondered how many of our members know the history of the IBM. So....here is a brief overview of the organization.
The International Brotherhood of Magicians is an international society of magicians. It was founded by Len Vintus, Gene Gordon and Don Rogers in 1922 with its headquarters located in Winnipeg, Canada. In 1923 they produced a magazine, The Linking Ring, to serve as a medium for their magic message.
The very first IBM Convention was held in Kenton, Ohio in 1926. W.W. Durbin, who lived in Kenton, offered to sponsor the convention. Durbin was one of Kenton's leading citizens, the owner of a printing business, a practicing magician who had his own theatre (the 125 seat "Egyptian Hall"), and above all, he was a political animal.
On the agenda of the convention was the organization's first official election. Durbin was elected president, replacing Len Vintus, one of the founders and the first vice-president was Harry Blackstone.
The convention was a big hit and the list of magicians who attended included such names as Servais LeRoy, T. Nelson Downs, Werner "Dorny" Dornfield, Harlan Tarbell, Harry and Inez Blackstone, and many others. On the list was the name of a magician whose career had stirred no ripples as yet, but would. His name was Percy Abbott.
In 1927 Percy Abbott moved to Colon and he and Harry Blackstone formed the "Blackstone Magic Co.". Soon the two man had a monumental falling-out and the Blackstone Magic Company vanished. Percy later went into business on his own with "Abbott's Magic Novelty Company", a mail-order enterprise that operated out of Colon.
Thus was born the General Motors of the hocus-pocus business. In 1926 the International Brotherhood of Magicians had a membership of 700 magicians. Today the enrollment is about 14 thousands members.
Fred Kaps Magic as you like it
In every field of endeavor there are those at the top who are looked up to by the others. In Magic, such a man was Fred Kaps. Every three years there is a "Congress of Magic" held in Europe called the Fism World Connection. The top prize for performing is the "Grand Prix." Kaps is the only magician to have won this award three times.
His good looks, skill and suave presentation made him the most sought after magic act in the world. In 1973 he performed in "It's Magic" presented in Los Angeles, at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. A show produced and directed by Milt Larsen. I was fortunate enough to attend the show that year and later, at the Magic Castle, I was introduced to Fred Kaps. In the bar area I saw him perform the Floating Cork, which at that time was a close-up miracle.
Bram Bongers alias Fred Kaps was born in 1926 in Rotterdam. During World War ll he served in the Dutch-East-Indies. There he performed magic for the troops under the name of Mystica. After the war he appeared twice on the famous "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1954 and 1956. Just two months prior to his death in 1980, at the age of 54, he was awarded A Master Fellowship from The Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood.
He was the King of Misdirection and through subtle phrasing and gestures he transformed tricks into miracles. Fred Kaps always believed there were two kinds of magic:
1. The magic one does in a Magic Club to fool club members.
2. The magic one is hired to do, where you perform for an audience who paid money to see you; here your reputation is very much at stake.
The professional magician never presents complicated effects. He uses only simple magic: a shell over coin, metal ring with a gap, a double faced card, etc. Use simple ideas that have been proven successful over the years. Three of Fred Kaps close-up favorites are: The Chinese Coin Trick, Kaps' Purse and Kaps' Currency Trick. Jim Hall features the Kaps' Currency Trick in his stand-up act.
In 1976 Ken Brooke marketed "The Fred Kaps" Chinese Coin Trick" in a limited edition, which was sold out before the final routine was written up, due to the reputation of Fred Kaps. He was the? Greatest Magician of His Time."
Re: Fred Kaps Published by Hades Publications. Printed in 1988
It's Magic Program. Printed 1973
Le Grand David & His Own Spectacular Magic Company
In Beverly, Massachusetts there is a magic treasure. It is Marco the Magi's production of "Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company." The production debuted in 1977 and next January they will celebrate their 30th anniversary.
The show was a dream of Cesareo Pelaez and was inspired by the magic of David Bamberg ("Fu Manu"). With two theatres of it's own, "Le Grand David and his own Spectacular Magic Company" is a resident performing troupe spanning over three generations.
Heading this large collection of families and friends is producer director and chief conjuror Cesareo Pe.Cesareo assembled the original members of the "Le Grand David" troupe during the early 1970's and, with them, purhased the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre in 1976.
Among the earliest to join forces with Cesareo was his apprentice, David Bull. The two have worked together for nearly thirty years now, and David today shares the spotlight with Cesareo at both the Cabot Street Cinema Theatre and the Larcom Theatre, which the company purchased in 1984.
In the workshops adjacent to the Cabot, The "Le Grand David" company has produced over a thousand hand-sewn costumes, 125 magic props and illusions, and four dozen prosceniumspanning back-drops.
Historians of stage magic have drawn parallels between the conjuring on Cabot and Willis Streets and other legendary homes of hocus-pocus. For fifty years around the turn of the century, the Maskelyne family of illusionists held forth at London's Egyptian Hall and late St. George's Hall.
In America the record for the longest run by a resident American conjuring company was held by Harry Kellar (1849-1922). Beginning on December 15, 1884, he and his company ran off 267 performances at "Kellar's Egyptian Hall" in Philadelphia.
This year both Cesareo and David attended the IBM Convention in Miami. Cesareo suffered a stroke several months ago but got around very well and spoke at one of the sessions. He is beginning to perform again in the "Le Grand David" show.
The show is so complex it can not troupe, so if you are ever in the Boston area plan a side trip to Beverly and experience the greatest magic show on earth.
Billy McComb The Passing of a Legend
Bill McComb is no longer with us. He passed away in May at the age of 84. I met him for the first time in 1987, in Louisville, KY, I was spending the night at the same hotel at which the local IBM Ring was having a lecture. The lecturer was Billy McComb and he was outstanding. He was the Dai Vernon of his day.
Billy McComb was an inventor, comedian, Doctor of Medicine, actor, author, magician, and perhaps the most renowned historian of the Magical Arts. He was billed as "The World's largest Leprechaun", having been born in Northern Ireland.
Billy was the son of Sir. Charles Henry McComb, who was knighted by King George V for his valuable research in the field of X-Rays. Billy himself earned his Doctor of Medicine Degree to please his family, but to please himself he soon gave up the practice of Medicine and moved to London to pursue his dream of becoming an entertainer.
He soon became a fixture in London's West End, doing anything he could to learn a trade.
Within a few years, Billy was headlining at various nightclubs with an original blend f comedy and magic. Then came the pinnacle of his career when he was asked to do a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth at the London Palladium. The show was a great success and Billy decided it was time to try his act in America.
Americans loved his style as much as the Brits and Billy became such a huge hit he was booked on just about every television/variety show on the air during that time. He made over 300 personal appearances in the US and also starred in many of his own TV shows in the BBS. He worked the best cruise ships and clubs around the world and was internationally renown in the world of magic. Billy has published several books on magic and has his own thoughts on how magic should be learned and performed.
Billy McComb lived in Hollywood and was actively performing until just before his death. In 1999, Magic Magazine selected him as one of the 100 most influential magicians in the 20th Century.
He received two awards from the Academy of Magical Arts and was elected to the SAM Hall of Fame. In recent years Billy opened in Las Vegas for the Amazing Jonathan and appeared in the Lance Burton Show at the Monte Carlo Hotel & casino.
Billy said he was never afraid of trying something new. He was never afraid of growing old.
He was never afraid of being wrong and even more important he was never afraid of being right.
For a man 84 years old Billy got as excited as a 16-year-old when he saw a great new trick or heard a waggish new tale.
Billy's philosophy of entertaining was very simple. "When you walk out in front of an audience, and you get laughs and applause, that is the food and drink of an artist."
Magic Magazine May 200l page 48
Viking Manufacturing Hall of Fame
John A. Petrie The Wonderful Wizard of Westville
In the early 1890's John Albert Petrie was a young professional magician and musician. He was also teaching magic and making magical equipment for professional magicians as The John Petrie Magical Company.
A few years later a young A.C.Gilbert, who had recently graduated from Yale University approached John Petrie and asked for help in designing a magic set for boys. They formed a partnership and called the company the Mysto Magic Company. Both magic sets and the erector set were developed at the Mysto Magic Company factory. John made magic sets and A.C.
Gilbert, went on the road and sold them. There was a disagreement between Petrie and Gilbert. The Mysto Magic Company, together with it's trademark, was acquired by A.C. Gilbert who went on to make himself a millionaire. John Petrie struggled to support his wife and two young sons. As Swastika Magic Company, he operated with a few machines from a shed in the back of his home.
About 1917, Tom Lewis, a wealthy amateur magician, for whom Mr. Petrie had built special magical apparatus decided to put John back into the business of manufacturing fine magical equipment. Mr. Lewis had recently sold a downtown New Haven jewelry business and had more than adequate funds to accomplish anything he set his mind to.
Once Mr. Petrie was established Mr. Lewis bowed out as a partner in the company and retired to California. Mr. Petrie was so extremely grateful to Tom Lewis for his moral and financial help that he incorporated the new company under their two names, Petrie and Lewis, and so the famous P&L trademark was born. To the best of my knowledge this probably occurred in the 1920's.
P&L made many fine small effects which were equally as famous as the larger ones. Things that fall in this category are the Brahman Rice Bowls, Ultra Card Box, Ching Soo Firecracker, Ultra Four Ace Stand and Ultra Card Rise to name a few. They all appear in a blue-covered 76 page catalog issued in 1939. The second and final P&L catalog was published in 1958.
The P&L Manufacturing Company was literally known all over the world and its trademark on a piece of conjuring apparatus was the equivalent of that of Tiffany on a piece of silver.
John A. Petrie was born on August 23, 1870 in New Haven. He died on February 2, 1954 in New Haven. His son Tod Petrie carried on the business until his death in 1962. His wife sold the inventory, parts and rights to the products in 1967 to the Abbott Magic Company in Colon, Michigan.
Re: The P&L Book Edited by Barbi Walker and Robert Seaver
Jim Ryan Darling of the Geritol Set
In 1970 Ivy and I moved from the Philadelphia area to West Lafayette, Indiana where I had just taken a job with National Homes Corporation. We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a whole new world of magic. To the North, Colon, Michigan, was the Magic Capital of the World. To the Northwest was Chicago and the home of Jay Marshall and one hour South of Lafayette was Indianapolis were Harry Riser, the King of Cards, lived and worked.
Two of the first people I met, in Lafayette, were Ron London and Bob Hurt. Ron ran a magic shop and Bob was a professional magician and about to become President of the IBM. Ron and I soon organized Ring 219 and one of the first magicians to lecture for our Ring was Jim Ryan.
Jim Ryan was born February 6, 1899, in Chicago, the son of Catherine Henny and John J. Ryan two immigrants from Ireland. When Jim lectured for Ring 219 he was about 75 years old and had been doing close-up magic since he opened "The Magic Tap" in 1933. Close friends and fellow magicians who frequented Jim's place were: Eddie Marlo, Paul LePaul, Jimmy Kater Thompson, Johnny Platt, Vince Gottschalk and the man Jim considered the greatest close-up entertainer, Matt Schulein.
Jim sold the tavern business when he realized that his family was growing up and he didn't know them. He took a job with the City of Chicago, Department of Weights and Measures. He also worked other bars around town, most often helping Frank Everhart at the Ivanhoe and taking over when Frank wanted a night off or had another job.
The audiences loved Jim Ryan. From the moment he walked out and said, with a big Irish grin, "Hi I'm James Patrick Ryan, affectionately known as the Darling of the Geritol Set." The magic was great, but they loved the man more than the tricks. Note: Frank Everhart introduced the classic trick "Sam the Bellhop."
Re: Jim Ryan Close-Up......Phil R. Willmarth
Herman M. Suss Carnival Magic
Over the years, Ring 81 has had many members who were well known in the field of magic. But, my guess is that very few of you are aware of Herman M. Suss who toured the country with a magic show and performed it under canvas.
The first Illusion Show that Suss toured was known as a "string show." In case you don't know what a string show is, each effect is presented on a separate platform and they usually have five to seven attractions. He later framed a show that he performed under a top (tent) 35' wide and 110' long. He used a stage 30' wide and 20' deep with space reserved for what is called on the carnival a "blow-off," or an after show. (An extra admittance was charged to see this after show.)
The shows routine was so that it would be a continuous one from the opening to the close and the running time of the show was scheduled for 50 minutes, thereby giving time to put on five or six shows a night, depending on the crowd.
Herman M. Suss was born September 29, 1880 in Montana and moved to Minneapolis, Minn. in 1895. At the age of 18 he played character parts with the Suss Bros. and Weishinger Dramatic Co., in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas.
He became interested in magic after seeing the Kellar Show. His first magic shows were in Dime Museums in Minneapolis and Chicago. For two years he worked in vaudeville houses out of Chicago doing a tramp singing and magic act for $30 a week. Later, on the carnivals, he was with the Dodson's World Fair Show doing a full magic show.
He also did some character work on TV and in pictures. The last picture in which he appeared was "Walk East on Beacon Street."
In 1953 Suss retired and moved to Englewood, Florida. He attended the IBM Convention in Miami Beach in June of 1956 and met Inez Kitchen. She encouraged him to join Ring 81 and the rest is history.
Re: The Linking Ring March 1957
Dr Harlan Eugene Tarbell (1890-1960) was perhaps the most renowned magic illustrator of all. He was one of the most multi-talented individuals in the history of magic...performer, lecturer, teacher, artist and inventor...he exceeded in all these areas. Both the Tarbell Course in Magic and Greater Magic are testaments to the genius.
In 1909, he placed a small classified ad in the magic periodical Edward's Monthly (1909-1910), advertising his artistic abilities. Tarbell's quest to become an artist brought him to Chicago in 1911. He began taking courses at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and soon his skills as an illustrator brought him new work. For example, he designed the first tubular container for the Morton Salt Company. Another one of his early assignments was illustrating an instruction sheet for Tinkertoy.
In June, 1926, Tarbell signed a contract with the team of Cooke and Jordan to write and illustrate a Magic Course. After a year and a half of work, Tarbell completed the Course which we know today as the Tarbell Course in Magic. The year was 1927 and Tarbell had done approximately 3000 illustrations for the 60-lesson correspondence course which sold for $79.50.
Around 1931, after selling 10,000 complete sets of the Course, the Great Depression and several price reductions contributed to the demise of Cooke and Jordan. Ten years later Tarbell produced a revised hardback edition of the Course with Louis Tannen. Tannen bought the copyright to the Course and produced the Course again, retaining the old format of many illustrations and detailed text. Volume 1 through 6 were illustrated and written by Tarbell. Volume 7 (1972) was written by Harry Lorayne and illustrated by Ed Mishell and Volume 8 was completed by Richard Kaufman and Steve Burton in 1993.
In the spring of 1938 Tarbell took on another renowned project doing over 1,150 illustrations for Greater Magic. Greater Magic was completed in November 1938 and Tarbell chalked up another artistic achievement.
Harlan Tarbell spent his life sharing the magic that lived inside him. He is best known for "Eyeless Vision" and his rope tricks. His mind was always active, even until his last days. Unfortunately, his physical capabilities, were not as strong as his mental ones. Harlan Tarbell, one of magic's greatest exponents, died of a heart attack June 16, 1960, at Hines Veterans Hospital in Chicago.
Re: The Art of Deception, My Best, Tarbell Volume 8
The Magic Shop of the WestFloyd Thayer was born on July 18, 1877 in Jacksonville, Vt. His first exposure to magic occurred at the age of 6 when he saw Professor Jonathan Harrington perform his full evening show in Vermont.
Two years later, at the age of 8, he received a small box of parlor magic effects as an award for selling subscriptions to the magazine, The Youth's Companion.
In 1891, at the age of 14 Floyd and his father moved to Pasadena, Calif. and while attending high school, his father made arrangements for Floyd to learn woodturning with an old world German wood turner. When Floyd graduated from high school in 1893, he began to work at the Pasadena Novelty Works and made novelties there out of orange wood, manzanita and yucca.
In Mahatma, a conjuring monthly, Floyd placed his first ad for the "Wand of the West" which was made in his small in-house magic business. In 1908 he moved to 101 W. Union Street in Pasadena, Calif. and called the business the Magic Shop of The West.
When he first began constructing magic, Thayer produced natural wood pieces of apparatus usually from mahogany and painted black and gold with an Egyptian motif. Many of Thayer's early pieces were taken directly from Professor Hoffmann's famous books ("Modern Magic," "More Magic" and "Later Magic"), but instead of constructing them in tole metal, he would turn them in natural wood.
In 1913 Carl Owen was hired by Thayer. Carl Owen's impact was felt in the Thayer Shop when colors such as bright yellows, reds, greens were used in combination with the standard black and gold. Nearly all of the box tricks made by Thayer during this period had these beautiful color combinations, as well as some crackle paints which were added to the finishes of Thayer apparatus.
Most magicians today don't want the brightly colored boxes and mechanical tricks of the Thayer era. Thus, Thayer magic has become collectible and the collectors of today rarely perform the magic, but merely put the pieces on a shelf and admire the workmanship which is present.
There is no question that the quality of Thayer magic was at a different level from much of the magic made throughout the world. Perhaps Dr. A.M. Wilson, a physician and editor of the Sphinx (1904-1930) said it best......."Magic is an art that sometimes instructs, often amuses and always entertains."
Re: The Magic of Floyd Thayer Dr. Robert Albo
About a month ago I was having lunch with friends at the Olive Garden Restaurant on Route 41 just south of downtown Sarasota. I looked across the street and much to my surprise there was a sign advertising the TIHANY PLAZA. I wondered how many of our members know about the Amazing Tihany and the Circus Tihany.
In 1984 Mr. Tihany was 68 and had been trouping for three decades. He toured throughout South America and Mexico each year from January 1 until December 31. He felt tired at the time and decided to fold the tent and take a rest. The entire family, great-grandchildren and all moved to Sarasota, Florida where, back in 1976, Mr and Mrs. Tihany had purchased a huge estate. Originally intended to become the winter quarters for the show, it never quite did, as Circus Tihany never stopped playing year-round in Latin America.
Meanwhile, the Tihanys began investing in Florida real estate. His sons and Mr. Tihany started a business in Sarasota, buying property and developing shopping centers. Now there are five Tihany Plazas in the area and his sons handle the leasing of these malls. Mr, Tihany was always in show business.
His tent was a 4,000 seat structure, see insert, which was custom designed in Italy and the show featured The Blue Bell Girls from Paris, a ballet company, the Flying Cranes and David Larible, a European clown who later starred in the Ringling Show. This galaxy of circus stars may have attracted the crowds, but the people came to see the magic.
Today Tihany is retired and lives in Las Vegas, his sons still operate the five Tihany Plazas and at 92 years old Mr Tihany is still very active in the Circus Tihany which now stars magician Richard Massone.
About 10 years ago Vince Carmen performed at The Players Theater and Mr. Tihany attended the performance and I got a chance to meet him. I understand that within the next few weeks Mr.Tihany will be inducted into The Circus Hall of Fame located in Sarasota , Florida.
Re: Magic Magazine July 2002 Page 42
At our September meeting, during intermission, Jim Hall presented some magic including a Nick Trost card trick from his book, "The Card Magic of Nick Trost".
Nick lives in Ohio and in May, 1961 he began a column on card magic in The New Tops magazine which ran until December, 1994....A span of over 33 years. He has published over 22 books and manuscripts, plus packet and deck tricks.
One of his mentors was Stewart Judah of Cincinnati, Ohio. Steward was born on February 16th, 1893. He marketed his first over-the-counter trick, the famous "Judah Monte" in 1925. In 1937 Judah and John Braun collaborated on the now classic "Subtle Problems You Will Do". John Northern Hilliard named him one of the ?Card Stars of The U.S.A." in Greater Magic.
Another of his early mentors was Bob Lewis of Dayton, Ohio. Bob and his wife toured the mid-west for many years doing a comedy magic act. They were often seen performing at Colon, Michigan at the Abbott Get Together. Bob introduced Nick to effective, sleight-of-hand card magic.
In the book, "The Card Magic of Nick Trost" are tricks by Judah, U.F. Grant, Tom Hubbard, Paul Swinford, Al Thatcher, Mack Picknick and others. In addition to card tricks there is a chapter on Sleights and Subtleties such as the Biddle Move, Branue Reversal, Elmsley Count, Gilbreath Principle, the Svengali Shuffle plus a whole lot more.
The first really important text he learned from was Hugard and Braue's "The Royal Road to Card Magic". Mike Close believes this book should be on every card magician's library shelf.
Nick is known for his simple, easy-to-do card magic. He bases his tricks on subtle moves and principles rather than difficult sleights.
Re: The Pallbearers Review
The Card Magic of Nick Trost
Editors note: The Card Magic of Nick Trost is available at L&L Publishing,
LLPUP.com for $40.00
Eddie Tullock Trade Show Magician
Eddie Tullock was the dean of trade show magic. Eddie was born in 1919 in Minneapolis and was the eldest of two children. Like so many of us he received a Gilbert Mysto Magic Set as a gift and was hooked on magic.
At age 15, he met a Midwest magician named Harry Gordien, who hired Eddie to work the carnival ten-in-one show as a barker, beginning his lifelong career as an entertainer. In 1956 Eddie was invited by Westinghouse to bring his sleight-of-hand magic, to a business convention in Philadelphia to promote a new electric light bulb. I met Eddie, for the first time, at a School Administrator's Convention held in Atlantic City. The year was 1959 and I was a salesman for National School Studios.
For a little guy he had a voice of thunder. His effects were mostly card tricks, but he could hold a crowd of 100 to 200 people spellbound while he hammered home the corporate marketing message. At one convention Eddie showed me the inside of his attaché case and it was filled with decks of cards. He used four to five decks of cards a day.
He was not the world's greatest card technician. He built his entire act with a palm, classic force, top change and the double lift. For the most part all of his sleights can be found between the covers of "Royal Road To Card Magic." His tricks were not new, nor were they particularly original. He didn't belong to any magic clubs, didn't spend much time watching magic and seldom practiced.
So what did he have to offer? Simply this: Eddie Tullock was perhaps the most entertaining man in the world when doing magic with a deck of playing cards. He hammered home the corporate marketing message with power and energy. He know how to present an effect and he had a great understanding of people and could read his audience. No one could present a card act with the force and excitement as well as Eddie Tullock. Note: He had stubby fingers and used bridge size cards.
I was in and around trade shows for over 40 years and I never saw anyone do it better. On May 5th, at the age of 88, we lost the undisputed founder of trade show magic.
Re: MAGIC....June Issue
TULLOCK...The Phantom Founder of Trade Show Magic
Alvin H. Wheatley The Chop Cup
More than four thousand magicians played on vaudeville and nite-club bills around the world between the 1890's and the 1930's. At the turn of the century there were twenty theatres presenting variety shows, acrobats, jugglers, comedians, singers, animal acts, dramatic skits, and novelty acts in and around London and as many within a thirty mile radius of New York City. Acts varied in length from eight minutes to an hour. Entertainers could work a hundred weeks in the United States without appearing twice in the same city by playing the Keith circuit in the East, the Orpheum chain in the West, and other affiliated theatres in the South and Midwest.
Al Wheatley was a part of this era. He was born in Australia and brought to the United States as a boy by his parents. He worked for a few years as Jean Hugard's assistant, before becoming an expert "Chinese" magician.
In the early 40's Al used the stage name Ching Ling Fu and later was Ting Pin Soo, however, in the 50's he changed his name to Chop Chop and his act became Chop Chop and Chalene. They played up scale clubs such as The Empire Room of the Palmer House in Chicago and the Moulin Rouge in Los Angeles.
The Chop Cup was created in the mid 1950's and was originally marketed as "Chop Chop's One Cup & Ball Routine. It sold for $9.50 and came complete with a hand-polished imported bamboo cup. By 1957 Wheatley's company, Excato Magic, was advertising a modified aluminum Chop Cup in magic magazines for $12.50.
Don Alan who introduced close-up magic to network television performed his Chop Cup routine on the "Ed Sullivan Show" in 1960. Needless to say at was a big hit.
The trick has spawned many variations, leading to elaborate routines developed by Larry Jennings, Ron Wilson, Earl Nelson and Alan Wakeling. Larry Jennings' "Famous Chop Cup Routine", was noted for its loading of a big ball and the use of a silk handkerchief and a shot glass. It was published in Genii Magazine in March of 1965. The Nelson and Wakeling routines eventually appeared in The Chop Cup Book (1979). Ron Wilson's Uncanny Chop Cup saw print in "The Uncanny Scot" (1987).
Al Wheatley, whose name of Chop Chop is forever linked to that classic prop, died on November 12, 1965.
Re: MUM Magazine...March 2006
Genii Magazine...Sept 1959
The Illustrated History of Magic...1973
Willard the Wizard
At the June Ring meeting, Bob Scekeres mentioned that Michael Ammar would lecture at our November meeting. Someone asked if, his wife, Hanna would be with him? I wonder how many of our members know that Hanna is the daughter of France Willard and that France Willard's father was known as the great Willard the Wizard.
The name "Willard the Wizard" is legendary in the field of magic. Harry Willard was born in Clarksville, Texas, to James and Lucy Willard, December 12, 1895. He toured a tent show like Circuses and Minstrels Shows in the Southwest United States. His tents could hold 2000 people or just a few hundred depending on the crowd.
The Depression years were hard on the Willard Shows. The giant of all tent shows, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey quit the tent and the road for a period of time, during those years. The Willard's added a Spook Show and when money was scarce, chickens, preserves, eggs and baskets of home grown produce were taken for the price of admission. "Mother Willard", Lucy, died in April, 1940. She was the first lady to work the famous Spirit Cabinet and was the teacher of all the workers except the last one.
Frances Louise Willard was born December 1940 and Harry was very happy because he had another girl assistant. By this time Harry was not offering just one show, he was presenting 3 different shows within a one-week stand. In the late 50's Harry and Frances played one night stands around San Antonio performing the Thumb Tie, Bird Cage, Spirit Cabinet and a few other items. Frances won the Miss San Antonio and was runner-up in the Miss Texas Beauty Contest during this period.
Harry was honored by having a magic club in Dallas, Texas take his name....The Harry Williard Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. His tours took him as far South as Clearwater, Florida. He continued the shows until his health was in jeopardy.
Frances, in the meanwhile, had married and was making San Antonio her home. Harry Willard lived out his magical life in the home of his daughter, Madeline. On June 28, 1970, he died at 75 years of age; bringing to an end one of the great shows in theatre history.
Re: Genii Magazine October, 1958
Willard The Wizard by Bev Bergeron