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Topic: Johnny Hart biography
Message: Posted by: Anatole (Apr 4, 2018 08:34PM)
In case this news has not been posted yet, Stephen Short has written a 250+ page biography of Johnny Hart. Here's a link to a website about the book:

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Apr 4, 2018 11:25PM)
Doesn't sound like any of his creations are described in the book. This publisher sounds like the same person who took over Alan Shaxon book, and did a poor job at finishing it.
Message: Posted by: Anatole (Apr 5, 2018 06:29AM)
A biography is meant to document a person’s life and achievements and is not necessarily meant to be a “how-to” instruction book. If I read a biography of Beethoven, I would not expect it to tell me how to compose a symphony. I would not expect a biography of Norman Rockwell to tell me how to paint a magazine cover. None of the biographies I read about Houdini taught me how to do the Water Torture Cell. John Fisher’s biography of Cardini did not teach Cardini’s billiard ball routine. No biography of Blackstone ever explained “The Levitation of Princess Karnac.”

Not all of us, Bill, are obsessed with learning magic secrets. Some of us enjoy reading magic biographies and magic history because we love the art of magic, period. Sometimes we even find them inspiring, the way Erich Weiss was inspired by reading Robert-Houdin's autobiography.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Apr 5, 2018 08:33AM)
I love reading biographies of magicians to see how they "made it". What decisions they made that took them to their goal. I also like to see how they structured their act and how the act evolved/changed over the years. I loved reading Tony Marks short bio explaining how he was forced to change his act from a stage presentation to a night club (close-up and almost in the round) act just to stay alive and performing.

I fully enjoy the discussions of how they set their props, costume, etc. for the act. The magician's personal methodology for a given effect is nice but where that effect is in the act, how it is gotten into, and transitioned out of satisfies my curiosity even more. The secrets of a given signature trick is nice to explore especially if the effect is done in some unique manner. Hopefully the magician has written a book of his/her techniques, methods, tricks and effects well before the bio is published.

I am reminded of Gene Anderson's book. Not a biography at all but a detail of the key effects, props, tricks, etc. he has developed, improved upon, and used exclusively over his long career. I await the day when a full biography is written on him. His magic works will be a nice companion piece.

It is a balance I think. It is especially difficult to write a biography for the small society of interested magicians that does not include a discussion of unique methods developed. Some lives are just bigger than the field they became famous in and the world at large wants to know about them beyond the secrets of their craft.

Thanks for the heads-up and link for this Sonny.
Message: Posted by: Anatole (Apr 5, 2018 09:10AM)
I remember how excited I was when way back in the 60's I saw Howard Thurston's _My Life of Magic_ listed in the card catalog of the Norfolk Public Library. But it was never on the shelf! Eventually I learned that the words "Shelved in Stacks" on the card entry meant that the book was shelved in storage because 1) it was an old book, and 2) it had not been checked out in a few years and the librarians decided that it was taking up space that was needed for "more popular" biographies of people like Thomas Edison or Abraham Lincoln that had seen more circulation.

There were no secrets revealed in Thurston's _My Life of Magic_. But there was a great story about how, while working in a saloon before his rise to fame, a rowdy cowhand shot the goblet Thurston used for the traditional rising cards routine. According to the book, that forced Thurston to develop a new way to do the rising cards without a goblet and led to the rising cards that alledgedly fooled the great Herrmann. That anecdote of the shooting of the goblet was, I think, totally apocryphal. But it made for great reading!

Although no secrets were revealed in _My Life of Magic__, Thurston did share some secrets in his 50-cent _Howard Thurston's Card Tricks_ booklet. Many magicians still use ideas from that little book--like "The Disappearance of Five Cards One at a Time" that is a feature of Lance Burton's award-winning act.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Apr 5, 2018 04:31PM)
Yes, I want it all, how he "really" made it, just plain luck, right place at the right time, or hard work, and what was that work, to get those opportunities. In addition, I want a description of his acts, what worked and what did not work. Why parakeets, doves and big birds. Where was he born, how rich was his parents, and how much did they back him in his efforts. Who trained him, who helped him work out the act, the movements, the sequence. Did he suffer, and did his parents pay the way for everything to go professional.

I am so tired of skipping over the truth about the hard times. Just read the life story of Frankson in Genii, May, 2017 issue. How it is to hard to believe, you save a few thousand dollars for several years, and someone breaks in your hotel room and steals it all. He said he was penniless, totally broke, but when an offer for a job came he bought a ticket to America on a ship and traveled across the ocean to get the job. He even turned down someone offering to help him with cash.

It usually takes 3 months to cross the Atlantic ocean by ship, so I guess he starved, and slept on park benches, but nothing was mentioned in the story, about any hardships.

I studied Dove magic for 5 years, not much I don't know about it. I bought ever book and video on the subject. Performed dove productions for several years. I even come up with some totally different ways to steal doves, that no one has used to this time. After the shows, people would come up to me and beg me to tell them my methods. Have spent well over a $1000.00 and countless hours perfecting the methods, I in no way would reveal my secrets.

It is the secrets, I want, it is how he got his table built, who designed it, and so on.

The Jarrow, Tony Marks, Alan Wakeling, and Ade Duval books are good examples, Not quite all the info, as I would like to read the struggles they encountered as well.
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Apr 5, 2018 06:09PM)
The Marvyn Roy book is a good biography as it tells of his successes and his struggles. He doesn't 'candy coat' the bad experiences although his general optimism with people and life prevents him from ever getting negative. Still, his methods aren't disclosed for those who would want that information.
Message: Posted by: Anatole (Apr 5, 2018 07:48PM)
_Del Ray: America's Foremost_ by John Moehring is another great biography that did not go into detail about the secrets of the tricks/routines that Del used in his acts. And Moehring didn't sugar-coat Del's bad experiences either, like at least one time when the highly sophisticated tricks didn't work properly because of what I'll refer obliquely to as "outside interference."

I _am_ grateful for the times when the methods of magic legends have been documented for research/academic purposes--like when Levent reconstructed Cardini's full billiard ball routine in "Levent’s “Ultimate Guide to the Billiard Balls" and when Dimmare explained some of Channing Pollock's dove techniques in "The Dove Whisperer" and when Channing lectured at The Magic Hands convention in Germany.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez