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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » Blackstone Sr. and Tub of Ducks (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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newpinkpanties
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I did not witness this but my father told me about it and I have never seen a reference to it anywhere. Sometime in the 30's at the Magestic Theater in Dallas Texas he saw Blackstone Sr. He brought out a number 2 washtub and rolled it across the stage, kicked it, showed everyone it was solid and tin. Then the pretty girls came out with buckets of water one at a time (they were in their scanties) and continued pouring water into it until there was surface tension you could see on the top. Blackstone then fired six shots with a revolver into the tub and ducks came out of that tub. Dad said it was at least a dozen. I really want to know if anyone has ever heard of this? By the way, Sally Rand did her bubble or fan dance that same show!
Dick Oslund
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I first saw it in 1945. The tub was center stage, with 10 buckets on the floor in a line from stage left to stage right. Each bucket had a large letter.. The 10 buckets' letters spelled BLACKSTONE. The tub was shown empty by tipping it up so one could see the inside. The assistants formed a "bucket brigade, and, filled the tub with the buckets. Harry fired a pistol, and about a dozen ducks appeared, quacking and splashing water. The ducks "climbed" over the tub's sides and, were chased into a "doll house" at stage right. Harry fired the pistol again, and the assistants opened the "doll house" so it was FLAT on the floor. The ducks were gone. The assistants held a blanket, like firemen at a burning building. A barrel with no ends was lowered on a spot line, from the flies, tilted, and one could see that it was empty. Then a bunch of ducks came flapping their wings and quacking, into the blanket. The traveler closed in.

I saw the "ducks" a half dozen times, over 5 years. The vanish, called the "Duck Inn" was a great piece of misdirection, (different each year). I got to know Nick Ruggiero, who was the "misdirection" the last year that the "show of 1001 Wonders" was on the road. He had some hilarious stories of his "adventures"!

Someday, if urged enough, I might tell a few of the stories. Someone in Colon, it might have been Jerry Conklin, told me that the tub was now a lawn ornament, planted with flowers. in a Colonites front yard.

I do hope that the above eye witness account has helped "pink pants".
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dr. Delusion
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Personally, I would love to hear more stories!
Bob.
Dick Oslund
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Hey! I checked back to see! OK Dr. D.!

I'll make a few notes on the Blackstone Show, and, in the not too distant future, I'll write them here...

Nick Ruggiero's "adventures". as misdirection for the DUCK INN misdirection should come first, as, I teased with them up above. Nick is still living, out west, in Arizona, I believe. I haven't seen him in a 'few' years! I'll be 86 in December, and, he is, I believe about a year older than I.

Then, maybe the "NET" illusion......Maybe a few more will pop up in my ancient mind! BTW, who am I, and to whom am I speaking???
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Julie
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Howdy Dick et al

F.Y.I. Nick is out of the magic manufacturing business and relocated from Arizona to back East to be with his family. He is not well.

Concerning Nick and the "Duck Inn": Blackstone used a similar (misdirection of attention) principle when performing his version of Where Do The Ducks Go. This is the same approach in Abbott's marketed version of Where Do They Go. This is unlike the more common methods, even those employed by today's high-end manufacturers.

Julie
Dick Oslund
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Hi Julie!
If you have an address for Nick, I would sure appreciate it! He, Dick Berry, and I, 'walked' the little burro that was produced from the "Drum That Can't Be Beat", down Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, that October. The little beast had a fancy blanket on which was embroidered: BLACKSTONE'S SENORA!

I can't recall the last time or place that Nick and I were together, but, it was a "reunion"!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Julie
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Dick> PM sent.

J
hugmagic
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Nick has alhezimers and is living with his son.
I think I probably have the only footage of Jr. doing the duck routine as he only did it one season. The "Duck Inn" was a real fooler. I know Jerry Conklin made a version of it but it was too impractical for him to do all the time.
Dick, I will try to dig out Nick's new address and pm to you in case Juie's is different.
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.
Dick Oslund
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Thanks, Richard! My mother had Alzheimer's, so I'm quite familiar. I would like to send a short note. I'll check my PM "box". I've had "too many balls in the air"! in the past two weeks, to write.

Yes, if I remember correctly, Harry Sr. must have had a half dozen assistants on stage when I first saw it!

I vaguely remember Jerry's prop, but, I never saw him use it!
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dick Oslund
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Harry Senior had the "luxury" (?) of plenty of assistants when I saw him in the '40s. Some of those "production numbers" could not have been presented, without lots of "extras" (!!!!)

The "DUCKS" needed more than a magician and an assistant! I can't remember exactly how many, but, Harry "filled the stage". (Several were needed backstage, too.)

The "Duck Inn" (vanish of a "herd" of quacking ducks) needed at least one man backstage (probably Pete) and about 3 or 4 onstage. In '45, the first year that I saw the "show of 1001 Wonders", the ducks, after being produced from the tub of water, were "herded" by the assistants, into the Duck Inn, which was spotted just a few feet from a stage right "leg" (wing curtain). One duck escaped the assistants and was finally chased off, stage left. Two assistant broke down the INN, flat on the floor. The ducks had "flown the coop"! People, even many magicians couldn't believe it! The assistants, who chased the one duck off, stage left, were enough to misdirect the attention of the specs.

Each time that I saw it done, there was a variation of the stage business.

The last time(s) that I saw the show (October of '49) Nick Ruggiero was THE "star" misdirector. Nick was young (about 19)and "athletic". He stood upstage, and off left, of the leg. A small "throw rug" or carpet was spotted just onstage of where Nick was standing (ready to make a "strong entrance" on cue!) When he got the cue, he rushed on stage, and by stepping on the carpet, he could do a spectacular "pratt fall". At THAT MOMENT, the backstage man JERKED a rope attached to a long wooden "tunnel" (which was jammed full of ducks)off stage behind the leg. (I THINK that the tunnel was on casters.) The tunnel escaped the Inn, via a hatch. The INN could now be opened out flat on the stage floor!

It was probably the most "spectacular methods" that Harry ever used! So, here comes a couple of the "humorous" things that happened:

The show was on the road for maybe a month, Nick doing his "part", daily. Nick came to Pete Bouton, Harry's brother, and stage manager, and said, "Pete! I'm getting a very sore shoulder, from landing on it." Pete, without cracking even a smile, replied, "Well, land on your head!"

The crew was always playing little jokes on each other, to keep from getting bored. A few days later, when Nick got the cue to enter, just as he was about to step on the carpet, it was jerked off across the stage, by a strong black thread. The carpet was gone. Nick needed it to "skid". So, he adlibbed a funny fall. It got the job done!

At the next show, Nick was spotted on his "mark" in the wings. He looked down at the carpet. No thread! On cue, he entered, and stepped on the little carpet. It didn't move. The guys had TACKED it to the stage floor!

The old line from, I think, Hugard's "Annual of 1937" comes to mind. There was a cartoon of a magician, backstage, trying to lassoo a loose rabbit. Props were scattered all over! The caption: "It may be an art from out front, but backstage!!!"

That's enough for one day! I'll try to return with an "incident" that happened with the "NET". My first year, it was done with three girls dressed in Army, Navy, and Marine uniforms. Another year, one of the girls was dressed like a butterfly. The "theme" changed every year.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Dr. Delusion
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Fantastic story! Thanks so much for sharing!
Bob.
Dick Oslund
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Yer most welcome!
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Jacobcapper
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I would have loved to have seen a spectacle like that. More stories are definitely welcome.
Dick Oslund
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So! "Now youse guys" have "done it"~~~! "Youse have "encouraged me", so, I'll tell the story about Blackstone's "Pin Up Girls".

When I first saw the "Girls", I was a month away from my 14th birthday. I had just become, by virtue of having done my first "real" paid show, a "part time professional"! I had had the chutzpah to approach the principal at the Junior High School, and, "book" a school show. This was 1945, the principal liked to encourage kids! We charged 10 cents admission, and I made $26.! (A hamburger and a coke, cost ten cents, then.) Looking back, now, I think I was grossly overpaid!

A few weeks later, my parents drove 5 hours (no freeways then)to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so that I could see Harry Blackstone Sr.! (I thought that I had died and gone to heaven!)

The show was magnificent! The "Pin Up Girls" was just one of what seemed like a hundred fantastic miracles". Three pretty girls, dressed in Army, Navy, and Air Force "uniforms" (World War II was just over.) sat on an oversized "swing", behind a big net. Blackstone fired a pistol, and all three girls disappeared instantly! For me, watching 2 1/2 hours of spectacle, It was fabulous!

I was a few years older, and, I took the train from Upper Michigan (an all night ride!)to see "Mr. B", again. For 3 years, I saw the show every autumn.
So, I saw the "girls in the net" several more times. Each year, it was "dressed" differently. One year a girl dressed as a butterfly, was "caught in the net", and vanished if a flash.

I think it was my third year, and I had always visited backstage with Blackstone. He was very sociable, and encouraging. He had gotten to know me! On that last year (1949) the girl was seated on the swing, the net was raised, Mr. B. stepped upstage, looked at the prop, and the girl, and walked downstage. The traveler closed, and, Blackstone did a trick, "in one". The show continued.

I walked down the alley, after the show. Harry was seated on a chair in the "alley", looking very tired. I greeted him, and, he made me welcome. After, we had talked for a few minutes, I asked him about, what I now knew was the Dizzy Limit illusion. That tired old man, grimaced, and, said, "The assistants had hung the prop backwards! There was no way that it would work.

That was the last time that I saw Mr.B. The show closed the following spring, due to Harry's illness, and, never toured again.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Russo
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Talking about Blackstone & Pin Up Girls-- When I got the "Pin Up Girl" paddle effect - Blackstone Sr. - showed me a great way to perform it - (and any other paddle effect). With the paddle between thumb and pointer- have the paddle resting on your PALM or inside of your hand, it could mask a clumsy twist - -not just sticking up and out. Looks good _Hope you understand the setting!!. Uncle Harry(as he asked, Wife and self, to call him) was a GREAT person. Ralph & Anna (russo)Rousseau
Julie
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Quote:
On Dec 5, 2017, Russo wrote:
Talking about Blackstone & Pin Up Girls-- When I got the "Pin Up Girl" paddle effect - Blackstone Sr. - showed me a great way to perform it - (and any other paddle effect). With the paddle between thumb and pointer- have the paddle resting on your PALM or inside of your hand, it could mask a clumsy twist - -not just sticking up and out. Looks good _Hope you understand the setting!!. Uncle Harry(as he asked, Wife and self, to call him) was a GREAT person. Ralph & Anna (russo)Rousseau


For decades I thought I had invented this finesse until I recently saw a YouTube of Blackstone Sr. featured on an old 1950's television show (television = radio with pictures for you other old timers). The Great Man finished performing his ever impressive Buzz Saw illusion and the host ask him if he could do Magic with smaller items, too.

Harry reached into his tux pocket and pulled out a paddle with arrows printed on same. He proceeded to use his flat palm as a stage/backdrop just like I had invented. Smile
The good news is that it looked GREAT.

Julie
Dick Oslund
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HEQQ! I THOUGHT that I had "invented" that "handling" of the paddle! I've done the color change knives for "eons & epochs"!!! The "standard" handling of the paddle always looked "hokey" to me, plus, it had angle problems.

Now, with Russo AND Julie, my ego is crushed! hee hee

Apparently, I saw Harry do it, "back then" and later when I started doing the knives, my sneaky mind "reMINDED" me of Harry's subtlety.
SNEAKY, UNDERHANDED, DEVIOUS,& SURREPTITIOUS ITINERANT MOUNTEBANK
Jim Sparx
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Saw Blackstone at Liberty Hall in El Paso about 1947-48. those were the good old daze...........
Russo
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1947 era- remember seeing an Egyption esoph. plus posters for His Show in a window display in Canoga Park Calif. Blackstone was appearing at the Local HighSchool Aud. didn't get to see him, had no$$. DID get to meet/greet/work with him (Wife and I ) when we became members of HollywoodSAM#2.(and later, one of the 1st members of the Castle. sponsord by Milt & Bill)in the 1960's.
Russo
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That's Hollywood (L.A.-Calif) SAM #22(getting old)
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