(Close Window)
Topic: ISO Information on Tommy Martin
Message: Posted by: Anatole (Jul 5, 2016 11:58PM)
I and two other magicians from the Tidewater Virginia area have been invited to present a talk on magic for the Jewish Museum and Cultural Center in Portsmouth, Virginia USA. I've done some considerable rsearch already, but if any of you have any thoughts about the topic, I welcome them.

I just received in the mail a copy of _European Jewish Magicians 1933-1945_ by Hannes Hoeller. It's the English translation of a book originally written in German. On the verso page (the other side of the title page) is this quote:
"It is odd. I was befriended with almost all of the Jewish magicians, they were mostly amateur then and we met often. We never discussed politics. We performed magic. All of a sudden, they all vanished and I didn't know why. Was I so naive? I never realised. I went often with Seldow to the Scala, as we found Tommy Martin (USA) better than Cardini. When I came to visit again he was gone (1934).------- From a letter by Fred Mahlo--Maldino/Berlin to the author. 12th March 1999"

Does anyone know anything about Tommy Martin? It sounds like he must have been a pretty good magician to be considered "better than Cardini." I found some mention of a T. Bradley Martin in a 1939 _Linking Ring_ that I suspect is the same person.

And I found this comment in the November 4 1939 issue of _Hugard's Magic Monthly_:
Martin shouldn’t talk. Like Cardini, Tommy is a “silent” performer. Cardini talked and found that it was wrong. Martin will, no doubt, find that he is wrong, too. Otherwise he is one of the best manipulative-showmen of the present era.
-----end quote-----

To be regarded as "better than Cardini" is a high compliment indeed. I'm wondering why I haven't heard of Tommy Martin before. I am guessing there have been other Tommy Martins in magic. This one was actively performing in the 1930's.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jul 6, 2016 12:08PM)
Ever heard of the Egg on Fan?

His Act is described in Jay Marshall's favorite book, Programmes Famous Magicians.

He wore a smart business suit, soft hat, gloves, and cane.

I was going to attach a picture of the type of bird cage he produced back then, but they already sold it on the Magic Collectibles web site.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jul 6, 2016 01:08PM)
Amado "Sonny" Narvaez, I sent you a PDF copy of the page from the book about Tommy Martin's act he performed back in the 1930's. Exact time is vague on this. 1st printing of the book was in 1937.

Interesting "Programmes Famous Magicians was published for all the acts the author (unknown) has seen in person. It is not mentioned if the publisher Max Holden did it himself or another person.

As Jay Marshall pointed out, he used this booklet of acts to help form a act, and use material that was popular with audiences. I have found many of the Classic being presented by preformers in the 1930's.

Of course, as is the case many times, the imagination is sometimes better then the actual performer and performance.

I often refer to this little booklet for ideas and was happy to get just a peek into these famous magician's acts, and the material they presented.

Tommy Martin made the Sterling Egg on Fan famous. It is documented in another booklet.
Message: Posted by: Anatole (Jul 6, 2016 01:38PM)
Thanks, Bill.
I just looked at the pdf you sent. His act sounds great, but I still wonder what Fred Mahlo meant when he said Martin was "better than Cardini." He could have meant "a better entertainer" or "better with card fan productions." I guess we'll never know.

As to who authored the book--a check of askAlexander brought up a column by John Booth in which Booth writes: "Max Holden is authoring a book long sought after by conjurers on "Programmes of Famous Magicians." So it appears that Max was indeed the author.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Jul 6, 2016 02:20PM)

Now you have brought up one of my favorites! Tommy Martin (aka T. Bradley Martin, and a few other names) was a protege of E. Loyd Enochs who was a builder, inventor based in Glendale Calif. (later Modesto California) and as noted his magic was superb. He was a top flight pro and inspiration to many night club magicians. what made hme 'better' than Cardini? Nothing other than someone's personal opinion.

Alton Sharpe used to talk to me about him and wrote up his impressions I believe in Olla Podrida (Sharpe's mostly monthly magic magazine). Vernon told me once that only Tommy Martin changed his name more than I did! ( I have use: J. Neal, Jonathan Neal, J. Neal Brown and Jonathan Neal Brown).

He was a gentleman magician like Kodell, Leipzig, or Keating (more like Kodell, in that he didn't talk) And as mentioned, he made a great success out of the Egg on Fan, and from what I have heard, Glen Pope was a 'junior' version of him.

Harry Riser was a friend of his and wrote:
" I met Tommy Martin, one of the all time great class acts in magic. What a polished performer! He taught me that the tricks may be good, but they are only tools. the essence of performing is to project your energy and dynamism- your persona, those characteristics the differentiate you from others; and to project them immediately to your audience. When Tommy performs, you like him INSTANTLY!"

Tommy lived in Houston and played at the very high end Shamrock hotel.

This is Mark Wilson's take on Tommy: http://www.markwilsonmagic.com/my-magical-life.html
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jul 6, 2016 02:37PM)
Remembered, Bob Blau published a book, Bob Blau's World of Magic. In it he, if I am remembering correctly, got the Tommy Martin routine from Tommy Martin. Bob passed away in 2001, living until 99 years old. The book also describes Bob Blau's spirit cabinet, and other tricks. I only was mostly interested in the Egg On Fan routine, the book is packed away so I cannot currently get to it.

His list of material sounds classic now, but I am sure they were all new back then. I know I like the design of his act and variety of material presented.

That comment could mean anything, from not acting tipsy to more of a common person in a business suit, or it could mean his dexterity.

Just read JNeal post, it mot like meant his personality and connecting with the audience. Cardini's act is more like watching a movie, not connection with audience, does not acknowledge they are present. If that is one reason for the comment, then it is more of how each view presenting magic. Nothing to do about which is better.



Tommy Martin (April 20, 1910 - February 11, 1991) was a noted professional in the 1930's and 40's known for his Egg on Fan routine and Cards To Pocket.


After a few years as a newspaper reporter in Nashville, Knoxville and New Orleans, he became an assistant to Cliff Jones (aka "Lesta"), eventually doing some shows himself. T. Bradley Martin, as Tommy was sometimes billed, met Max Malini and started improving under the old master's tutelage.

Martin popularized Max Sterling's Egg on Fan routine and it became closely associated with him in the 1930's. In 1936 with his relatively small prop act, he played the mammoth Radio City Music Hall in New York; one of a handful of magicians to perform in the 6,000 seat theater.

Martin retired in the 1950's to become a booking agent.

He passed away of complications from Alzheimer's Disease in Houston.

Obituary: Genii 1991 June
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jul 6, 2016 09:23PM)
I think it is great that some of the old acts did not use audience participation. Just a fast paced act that everyone enjoyed and left mystified.

Here the article from Programes Famous Magicians for Tommy Martin.


Martin is dressed in a neat business suit, soft hat and gloves with cane in hand. He removes his hat and places same on table together with gloves and cane.

Production of a Glass of Wine from Handkerchief. He drinks the wine. Production of Twelve Silver Dollars from the Air — As each coin is produced, it is dropped into the glass held in the hand. The hand is repeatedly shown back and front.

Coin Passes.

Production of Two Silks.

The Knot in Silk that Vanishes.

Blendo — The two silks are tied at one corner. A shake and the silks have changed into a large 36 inch rainbow silk.

Production of a Cage and Two Doves (From the Rainbow Silk) — Cage is hung from a hook on the table. The cage is fourteen inches high and twelve inches in diameter.

Card Fans and Sleights — Hat is picked up from the table. Continuous fans of cards are produced at the fingertips and dropped into the hat.

Sterling Egg on the Fan — Martin shows a large black fan and a piece of paper. Tearing off a corner of the paper this is moistened at the lips and crumpled into a ball and tossed on the fan. Slowly the ball assumes the shape of an egg as it is bounced on the fan. Reaching into his right coat pocket Martin removes a small plate and the egg is allowed to roll onto the plate. Picking up the egg it is now broken and dropped onto plate to show it is a genuine egg.

Cigarette Production — A cigarette is removed from a case and lighted. This is followed by the familiar routine of catching lighted cigarettes at the finger tips. These are dropped on the stage until about ten cigarettes have been produced and as he walks off for the finish Martin is seen smoking a pipe.[/quote]
Message: Posted by: Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse (Jul 7, 2016 10:22PM)
Wow I bet he was something to see in person
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Aug 29, 2016 10:38PM)
From the drawing in the book Programmes Famous Magicians, it would appear that this is the type of cage Tommy Martin produced during his 8 minutes act.