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Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
21390 Posts

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Just received an email from Magic Inc. in Chicago, Illinois. The great Jim Sommers has passed away.

From the email:

1934 - 2018

Jim Sommers was a full-time professional magician and member of the Houdini Club. Like many other magicians, he had been absorbed in magic since childhood. Jim performed in five U.S.O. tours all over the world. He performed in trade shows and even taught magic, notably to actor Harvey Korman. Jim used many illusions in his own show, but they were so bulky that he learned how to make them for himself in a more compact manner. Jim had a basement workshop where he devised the trick blade for “West Side Story” and he built illusions for Blackstone and Mark Wilson, among others. We published a few of his books, notably “Build Your Own Illusions: Complete Text and Drawings for 20 Practical Stage Size Magic Tricks” and “Blow By Blow: Another Balloon Book.” He was a good friend to Magic Inc. and the Chicago magic community.
RIP, Jim. You will be missed.

Memorial Service
Wednesday, August 29
2:00 PM
Good Hope Cemetery Chapel
4141 S. 43rd Street

My 1st wife, had the pleasure of filling in for Jim's assistant would could not travel to the Hollywood Cavalcade of Magic convention in 1969. She was the assistant for the Zig Zag illusion that Jim had built. There was a big controversy at the time, as everyone knew it was Harbin's illusion. It got newspaper and television coverage in Las Angeles, California during the convention.

Jim Sommers was always hard to get a hold of to order his collapsible illusions. Many years later, I discovered that Klamm's Magic was the sole retail outlet for Jim's illusions.

Another very talented magician has left the wondrous world of magic. His talent will be missed.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

Graduate of Chavez College of Prestidigitation and Showmanship

"Magic With A Twist Of Comedy"
Dick Oslund
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Jim and I were not close friends, but, we were good friends. Our last visit was at Abbott's GTG, in 2016. We enjoyed getting up to date on each other's activities, over breakfast.

Back in the '80s, when I was "program consultant" for the School Assembly Service, I booked him in Michigan. The schools liked his program! I will definitely miss him.
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I will never forget when Jim did the Zig Zag for the first time at Abbott's. I had never seen anything like it ever - then every illusionist on the planet started including it later on. Was a really big deal at the time. Reminded me when they did the massive "Eclipse" illusion at Abbott's- first (and last) time I ever saw it performed. Jim's Zig Zag that night looked like it was entirely made out of steel if I recall...
Dick Oslund
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IIRC, The late Phi Willmarth, and the late Peter Tappen presented Tarbell's "ECLIPSE" illusion at Abbott's Get Together, sometime in the late '80s or early '90s. It was THE topic of conversation at the American Legion club rooms that night!!!

Tarbell had presented it when he performed at the Chicago Opera House, in the late '40s. Tarbell had a couple of suitcases of props, at the Opera House engagement. It caused a bit of comment among magicians, as Tarbell's ticket price was about the same as Harry Blackstone's ticket price. --And, Blackstone trouped with a boxcar full of props.
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Profile of Rainboguy
This is the first I have heard of Jim's passing, and I am shocked, surprised and saddened, as I too am a long time member of the Houdini Club which is celebrating their 80th annual convention this coming weekend in Appleton, Wisconsin (Houdini's Hometown). The Houdini Club was planning on having a special ceremony for Jim this weekend honoring his many years of service to the Magic Community; it's very sad that he is gone and will not be able to experience that.

Dick Oslund was over at my house yesterday, leaving me with 4 boxes chock full of PRIMO Magic props for me to take to The Houdini Club convention after I volunteered to help sell those props for him. I'm surprised that Dick didn't mention Jim's passing to me.....

I always looked forward to visiting with Jim Sommers each year at Abbott's Get-Together and The Houdini Club Conventions.

Rest in peace, Jim Sommers. Thank you to your contributions to the Magic community. You will be missed!
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Profile of lnlver
I just met Jim at the June Houdini Club meeting in Milwaukee. We were able to chit chat for a little while; I was really interested in picking his brains for ideas.
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