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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » Harry Blackstone Junior (10 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Crispy
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I saw Blackstone in the early 90's perform at the Kentucky State Fair. They had an outdoor stage set-up (the same one they use for concerts) and he performed a very long show. I was captivated from beginning to end and the audience was huge. The one thing I remember about his show is that it included something I doubt I'll ever see in another magic shows. The music was provided by a live orchestra. I again saw him perform not long before his death when the Palace theatre was restore here in Louisville. I think his passing brought an end to a magical era.

Cris
JL608
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I had the pleasure of working Harry Jr's show a few years before his death. Having the privilege of watching the Floating Lightbulb from backstage was very cool. Hard to imagine while you're watching that it could fool anyone!

After the show Harry agreed to a lecture for our local IBM Ring. While he could've easily dismissed it or slapped together something lame, he took the time to present a really informative slide show of his (and his father's) life in magic, and a lengthy question and answer session.
hugmagic
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I agree (having worked backstage many times). The light bulb, rabbit routine, and other things seemed so simple in the hands of a master. Many of the things Harry did, as did his dad, were the essence of simplicity. That is the one great lesson I learned from him. Keep it simple and just do it. No fancy tech or moves. Just do it. But it was entertaining always.

I loved the Duck routine but few people ever saw it.

He is missed.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
SHOC
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I will always remember Harry for his speaking voice.
Rick Fisher
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Rick Fisher
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To me...Harry was the epitome of what a magician should be - on and off stage. His personna was such that when he stepped onto that stage you knew you were in the prescence of a real magician and you knew you were going to have a good time. He took each and every audience and put them in the palm of his hand. You like Harry because he was having fun and it was contagious to the entire audience. I have not seen another (maybe never will) an entertainer like Harry B. We miss him and for for what he stood for - Don't get me wrong. Lance,David & Blaine are all great magicians but Harry had the whole package and that is hard to find.
Rick Fisher, President FAB Magic

"One of the largest magic shops in the world!"

www.fabmagic.com
Ed Hutchison
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Madison, MS (orig. CNY)
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Like Glenn, I have seen 'em all, but, for my money, Harry, Jr. was in a class by himself. He had just the right mixture of comedy and mystery and always looked, spoke, and entertained in a way that shouted "magic."

Ed Hutchison
Edward Hutchison

Madison, MS

Home Page: http://www.ERHutchison.com
CARNEGIE
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Harry Jr. was the first big time magician I saw live. I sat in the second row at the Warner Theater in Washington DC and there was an orchestra. I can actually remember most of the show even to this day. I was mezmerized. Luckily whenever Harry Jr. would come to town, I'd see the show. I saw it again at the Warner Theater. I saw it at Wolf Trap which was interesting. The Wolf Trap theater had burnt down a few months earlier and a large tent had been constructed nearby. Harry was the first person to perform in the tent. Great Show. I'm not sure how many times over the years I saw his act but it was always a wonderful experience. I never got to meet the man, although I did ride in an elevator with him and sat behind him at a Magic Convention. He had a following with him and it was hard to break through.

I was on my way to Mexico to perform and I picked up the USA today and saw that Harry had passed away. When I arrived in Mexico, all my fellow magicians were distraught, having learned the day before of his passing.

There is a DVD out called Grand Illusions-The Story of Magic Part 2. There is an excellent documentary on the Blackstones, Sr. & Jr.. I still get chocked up watching it. There will never be another like him.
Father Photius
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I only met Jr. a couple of times. The first time was when we both answered the same page for a phone call. (we're related and have the same "real" last name). Wonderful guy and magician. He had a style truly his own, I often wondered why he performed under the name of Blackstone, Jr., as I felt he was a very talented magician in his own right, totally separate from his dad's reputation. His radio TV experience gave him a wonder stage presense. He could command the stage. He handled himself on talk shows better than most magicians. One of the last really big traveling illusion shows. Plus, he kept some of his dad's signature tricks alive and well in a medium that is quick to discard and forget (for a while at least). A much underated performer and magician for the talent and skill he actually possessed.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
Wizardwannabe
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You know how PBS often has fund drives during which they broadcast a special of some type? Here in the Seattle area they've lately been showing the George Harrison memorial concert and a documentary about a man building a cabin in Alaska. Anyway, I remember years ago they aired the Blackstone show during the fund drive. The show was on tape, of course, but during breaks Harry Jr. would appear live in the studio encouraging viewers to call in with their pledges. At
one point he performed a cups & balls routine for the host thereby demonstrating that he had the chops to do sleight of hand as well. Gay Blackstone also talked a bit about the history and philosophy of magic.
mikefallen
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I heard that john calvert`s casper routine, gave harry jr. some tips for his floating lightbulb...! Always good to remember such a magician
hugmagic
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I can't think of anything in the Casper routine that is applicable to the floating light bulb routine though both are great routines in their own right.

Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
Rainboguy
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Blackstone Sr. and Jr.'s presentation of the Floating Lightbulb was a MAGNIFICENT moment of Pure Wonder and Astonishment.....it "did Magic Proud"...and was in a league of its own, as a "Trademark" of The Blackstone Act.

That piece, along with the Cassedega Cabinet and Handkerchief, Vanishing Birdcage (with all the kids onstage), and "Rabbit in Newspaper as a Gift to Child From Audience" are, in my opinion, MASTERPIECES OF MODERN AMERICAN MAGIC.......

Not to mention that Harry Jr. was one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet.....he is deeply missed.
aceofillusions
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He was an amazing performer for sure. Any Blackstone enthusiast out there want to give me some feedback on this article I wrote about him? http://aceofillusions.com/Blog/2015/04/W......Magician
Seattle Magician
mtpascoe
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I first saw Blackstone Jr. during the filming to the Houdini Séance at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles starring William Shatner. He looked big at the time.

I later worked with his daughter at Magic Mountain for the Bugs Bunny Magical World of Kids.

Then years later I saw him again at the Sahara in Vegas before he died. He looked much smaller to me. I me, not just thinner, but shorter. When I saw him at the Orpheum for the Houdini special, he looked taller.

An interesting thing happened during that show. Some man stood up during the show and yelled something out that no one could hear. Everyone thought it was a heckler. He persisted until he actually stopped the show. He yelled out at Harry and said, “Mr. Blackstone. You sir are the finest magician I have ever seen.”

What could be said after that? Harry didn’t know what to do as there was an awkward pause. But, being that he was dying of cancer then, I am sure it was something that made him feel good. My wife agreed with this man. Now she is not much a magic fan, but loved Blackstone. Go figure.

Anyway, that was a great memory as he is certainly one of the greats during that area of the second golden age of magic.
Dick Oslund
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Harry Jr. "opened" for ME!

Now that I have your attention! I'll tell the story.

Jack and Anne Gwynne are buried in the Colon cemetery. They had been giants in vaudeville and night clubs in the early days. Their grave marker, in Karrell Fox's words, was, "a brick!". (It WAS small and, certainly not very imposing.) Karrell got a bunch of us together,and proposed a midnight benefit show to raise funds to purchase a suitable headstone. Most of us had known Anne, and some had known Jack. We agreed. Karrell said, "There's a dozen of us. If we all do 5 minutes, we'll have an hour show. We'll ask $5.00 admission,and that should buy a nice marker. Abb Dickson will get us a good price.

Now, it's "show time". Harry Jr. was one of our group. Harry said, "I need to open because Gay and I are invited to a late party." I think we "drew numbers", and I got the deuce spot. Harry opened with the Cords of Fantasia. I did about three minutes with the Pom Pon Stick' Jerry Conklin may have followed me, I don't remember for sure. Anyway, after that, I would refer to Harry as "my opening act"! hee hee!

Re: the light bulb and the handkerchief. Artie Kidwell worked the sound at the Get Together for years. I was playing the area around Cincinnati, and visited Artie. On the living room wall were two picture frames, each had a "mouse nest" of the "motive force" for the bulb and hanky. I, of course, had been backstage over the years and recognized souvenirs of Harry's show. We had a nice laugh about them.

Someone above mentioned Harry doing the big show in Minneapolis, and seeing it later on tape for a PBS fund raising promo. Harry did the duck bucket, and he came down to the front row, and had a man stand, and look inside the bucket. Harry said, "Look into the bucket! You can see YOURSELF! The bucket is empty! I fell on the floor, laughing!

In the early '90s, I was on the road for Jack West's National School Assemblies, and was spending a weekend in Sacramento, visiting Jim Jayes, Dale Lorzo ("Ronald") and Mary Mowder & Tom, et al. Harry Jr. was doing a concert tour, and was set to play Sacramento. We went. Harry and Gay, plus a girl to box jump, two boys to push the boxes, and two young fellows in the pit to provide live music, was a nice sized unit. Harry did the girl thru the glass, I think, zig zag, and the little sawing. plus all the "personality pieces" (bulb, hanky, sands of the desert, cords of fantasia, bird cage, the committee, etc. I had seen the "BIG show", and, often at Abbott's, 30 minute "pieces". He always did a fine job, but, this night, he did the best I had ever seen him do! It was glorious!

We went out in the lobby and stood near the "BOR" joint, to visit when he had gotten out of wardrobe. Gay came out, dressed in a jump suit, and started packing the tee shirts, program books, etc. I said,"Hi Gay! Show BUSINESS, eh!" She said, "Dick, with THIS show we're making money!" We both laughed. The New York "run" was great for the press book, but it was an expensive show to stage. Harry came out and we hugged. It was the last time that I saw him.

I wrote up in my book, a funny story about Harry doing the Zig Zag in the kitehen of Abb Dickson's motor home in Colon. It was Doug Henning's Zig Zag, that Abb was delivering to Bob Lund. Doug's blades wouldn't "fit". We found a set of blades in the back room at Abbott's. It was in the show that night!

When Harry died, "we" had a memorial service at the Get Together. Gay had tapes of the Light Bulb. She needed to dub the tape for the service. I had the ONLY facility to dub. Charlie Reynolds and Gay came over to my RV, and we spent a couple hours reminiscing and putting together the memorial.
mtpascoe
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Great story Dick.
Dick Oslund
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I would like to say a few words about Harry Jr.

While Jr. was growing up, his father was on the road with "Blackstone's Show of 1001 Wonders". Jr. saw the dress rehearsal in the Colon Opera House, and waved goodbye when the train pulled out of Colon for the opening date. Perhaps at Christmas time, Jr. visited his dad on the road. About high school age, he was enrolled in a Military School in Northern Indiana. Later, he could spend some time on the road, with dad' show.

Harry Sr. was often called the "Ziegfield" of magic. He understood how to frame a show that had flash, drama, comedy, with pretty girls to add sex appeal. True, it was not the "currently popular" style of presenting "big boxes", but, it was great in its time.

The dealers always "knew" where Harry Sr. had just played a week! They knew by the orders for Clippo, Six Card Repeat,etc. (They were "dollar tricks" that young magician wannabees could afford, and DO._

Harry Jr. had opportunity to learn all the fine details of producing an entertaining show. And, he learned especially well, the fine points of PRESENTATION of tricks like the candy box and rabbit. the wrist tie, the cage, bulb and handkerchief, clippo, six card repeat,and the "red rag". His dad was his teacher, and Jr. was a good learner.

In short, Jr. was in a sense,the "luckiest kid". His father was a MAGICIAN!

In the last few years that Sr.'s show was on the road, he was a tired, ill, old man. The war (WWII)had ended, Television was the "new" theater. It was harder to fill the seats. In April, 1950, Sr., with health failing, closed the show and "took it back to the barn" in Colon. Harry Jr. got "involved" in TV. Then, a few years later, an opportunity arose, and Jr. reframed his dad's show.

I saw one of his early performances at an Abbott Get Together. It was great to see those production numbers again! At first, the big stuff was so strong that the "in one" tricks, seemed a little weak. Harry booked the Playboy Clubs, and, polished what he had learned from the old man. When he came back to Abbott's, he was still billed as "Blackstone JR.", but he was now, BLACKSTONE!
jakeg
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I saw Harry Jr at the Holiday House night club in Pittsburgh. Small audience, great show, but ...... The lighting was so bad, that the shadow of the floating light bulb threads were clearly visible in the shadow that the were cast on the club wall.
He had nothing short of a great stage personality.
Spongedude
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I got to see Blackstone Jr. a couple of times and had a playing card signed. I remember a younger child running after meeting him and falling down and Harry was the first one over to help the young child up. Wish all magicians could be as kind and careing as him.
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