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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » Bill Siros -- carney/illusionist (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Bill Palmer
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Bill Siros was one of my early magical influences. He was a cigar-smoking carney who wore "bottle bottom" glasses. He did flawless billiard ball and cigarette manipulations. He also painted signs, and took various displays around the shows.

He owned an Abominable Snowman, a Bonnie and Clyde car and one of his sons did "Captain Dynamite." His son was once heard to remark that he did Captain Dynamite because he enjoyed the applause after the stunt. Like he could hear it!

Siros was a huckster, pure and simple, but what a huckster!

When "Creature From the Black Lagoon" was scheduled to play at one of the local theatres, Siros approached the owner of the theatre, Fred Cannata, with a proposition. Siros had an air breathing fish. He would have a contest with a $10,000 prize to see if anyone could guess the name of the fish.

Cannata thought this was a brilliant idea, but asked, "What if someone guesses it?"

"No chance. It's sure fire."

So they displayed the fish in the lobby of the theatre for a couple of weeks. The entries poured in. Marine biologists from Rice University and elsewhere came from miles around to see who won the contest.

The night of the drawing, Bill and Fred looked through the peephole in the curtain at a standing room only crowd that had grown quite restless. Finally, Bill stepped from behind the curtain. There were marine biologists, normally rather dignified people, who knew they had won.

Finally Bill announced, "I regret to announce that there is no winner...."

A hush fell over the crowd. One marine biologist screamed, "Liar! I know the name of that fish! I won!"

Bill continued, "Nobody guessed that the little fishes' name was Ralph."

There was a riot!

Posted: Apr 2, 2005 2:52pm
During the summer of 1961, Siros trouped an illusion show that went up to the Dakotas. While he was performing in Fargo ND, the following incident took place. I have heard this story from three of the people in it, one of whom was Bill Siros.

One of his assitants had been reading in the Latin press about how Richiardi would load the gaff of the Buzz Saw with tripe, spread the gaff apart, and let the people in the audience come up on stage and look at the innards of the girl on the table. He charged 25˘ a head for the privilege.

So this assistant went down to the local butcher shop, purchased 5 pounds of ground chuck and loaded it into the gaff. They popped Fay into the buzz saw, the blade started up, and went through her -- the blade started flinging gobbets of ground chuck into the audience. One piece landed "splat!" right on the forehead of a bald-headed man. The 300+ pound lady in the seats next to him saw it, gasped, fainted, and slid to the floor...

And Siros bit the end off his cigar.*

*(And that is how each version of the story ends!)

Posted: Apr 2, 2005 2:57pm
While on this same trip, Bill's partner split with the office trailer. There was no money for food, rooms, you name it. He was stuck with an illusion show and noplace to perform. He spotted another show down the road. He knew the manager, so he went in and asked him if he had an empty joint.

"Sure do. You want it? Ususal split."

The usual split was 50-50 less whatever the operator could glom.

Siros asked if he could use some of the stuff in the hardware tent. The owner said he could. So Siros went into the tent, found a big piece of rope about 15 feet long, about two inches in diameter. He painted a sign that said "See the rope, 25˘." And he flung the rope over a rafter in the joint.

People would pay a quarter, come in and look at the rope. "What does it do?"

"It just hangs there."

When they left, he would say, "Be sure to tell your friends."

Nobody likes to think he is the dumbest sch***k on the lot. So they would say, "Hey! have you seen the rope? It's really something!"

He made enough money in three days to get all the way back to Houston.

Posted: Apr 2, 2005 8:47pm
In the buzz saw story, I left out one part that is important. The assistant did not tell Siros he was going to load the gaff with the ground chuck. It was a total surprise to Bill.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
hugmagic
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Great stories Bill.
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.
Todd Robbins
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When I was growing up, I used to sit at the feet of folks like Bill Siros and soak up the great stories. Show biz today does not have the character that it did back then. It's too bad, because the business back then produced some colorful performers that could take the simples things and make them the most watchable acts. The likes of them will not be seen again.
Bill Palmer
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John "Little Red" Trower, who worked with Bill Siros, is still around. He comes to all the magic club meetings.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
hugmagic
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I think I met Red at the Dallas TAOM a few years back. Quite a character. You need to get him on tape with his stories.

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.
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