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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Dai Vernon - was he any good? » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Ross W
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Clearly, the late Professor has made a vast contribution to the literature, practice and theory of performing magic and is no doubt a far better magician than I could ever hope to be.

But what was he like performing for non-magicians? What was his performance style like? And did he perform much for lay-people?

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Scott F. Guinn
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While I never saw him perform, I know a lot of people who did. Obviously, in his late '80's and into his '90's he'd lost a little something. But even into his seventies, he was still pretty amazing, and he was, and I quote,"Scary Good" in his 50's and earlier.
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Peter Marucci
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Vernon performed very little for lay people ever.
He was mainly what would be called today "a magician's magician."
One British review, reprinted in the now-defunct Magigram, called him "hopeless" when it came to entertaining non-magicians.
In the final analysis, let's just say that he was good but not nearly as good as some would make him out. And the longer he's been dead, the better they make him out!
cheers,
Peter Marucci
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christopher carter
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Frances Rockefeller King used him extensively to entertain at society parties. (She also used Dunninger.) She was noted for having a dislike for magicians, and extremely high standards, yet she liked Vernon. He must have been doing something right. Reviews of his Harlequin act were tremendous. Many thought it was one of the finest performances of its day. Yet neither of these stints was long lived. Clearly Vernon lacked the drive for a career as an entertainer. In the end all that can be said is that there was a very brief time in which he was perceived very positively as an entertainer for laymen.

--Christopher Carter
cardguy
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According to my history of magic book, Vernon did not earn a living performing magic. He made most of his money cutting silhouettes (whatever that means).

He said he tried to avoid the spotlight because it did him no good. But, he did have his fair share of performances. He did his first magic show at 11. He performed throughout high school and college. In 1913 he moved to New York and became widely known among the experts. He was occasionally picked to perform at engagements that Nate Leipzig could have had.

When he moved to Atlantic City, Frances Rockefeller King booked him for many private parties. After that he moved to L.A. when the Magic Castle opened. He stayed there from the mid 60's on.

But to imply that Vernon is overrated is a sin! Smile Just because he wasn't a full-time professional doesn't mean that he didn't know what he was doing. The fact that he didn't spend most of his time performing gave him the time to be creative and come up with tons of techniques and ideas that are highly sought after today.

His contribution to close-up magic was tremendous. Not only that, but he inspired so many other "legends" that also contributed. We are talking tons of material here. Where would the art be right now if he hadn't existed?
Frank G. a.k.a. Cardguy
Peter Marucci
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First of all, I don't think anyone here suggested that Vernon "didn't know what he was doing."
As for where the art would be today if he didn't exist, well -- where would it be if Malini, Leipzig, Slydini, Burling Hull, Jim Ryan, Harry Lorayne, etc., etc. didn't exist?
Everything is built on what went before and to suggest that any one person is critical is folly.
As the saying goes: If you think you are indispensible, stick your hand in a pail of water and see the hole it makes!
I was not trying to take anything away from Vernon's contributions to magic (and they were many); I was simply trying to answer the original question.
BTW, silhouette cutting (what Vernon did as his main job) is generally found at sideshows, carnivals, midways, etc. It consists of cutting out, of black (usually) paper, an outline of the customer. Named after Etienne Silhouette, an 18th century French politician, noted for trimming the "frills" from expenditures by the government.
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Peter Marucci
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Huw Collingbourne
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Yet again, you prove what a fund of obscure (but fascinating) information you are, Peter! I had no idea that Silhouette was a person's name!

I once had a silhouette of my profile cut by an artist on Brighton Pier when I was a child. Amazingly enough, I see there is even a web page all about the Brighton Pier slhouettes (mine isn't there, alas...)

Click here

best wishes
Huw
Peter Marucci
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Welcome to Marucci's House of Useless Knowledge; open 24/7 for those with too much time on their hands -- like me! Smile
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Peter Marucci
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Dolini
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Peter
To show how old I am I actually had a Silhouette cut for me when I was young. Also we do stand on the shoulders of Giants. Blackstone, Houdini.... etc.

Dolini
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Thoughtreader
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I remember seeing Vernon perform his linking ring routine with lay people in the audience and he was incredible. He also did some television spots doing his cups and balls that was also well received by the lay audience. He did know his stuff and was a brilliant editor that could take a convoluted effect and trim it down to it's basics making it a miracle.
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cardguy
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Peter,

Sorry if I took what you said too far. I must have misunderstood. Smile

And thanks for the info on silhouette cutting. Very interesting occupation.
Frank G. a.k.a. Cardguy
Peter Marucci
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Frank, Silhouette-cutting is almost never seen these days -- and that's unfortunate because it's a minor art form all of its own.
And Dolini, having had one done, you'll know what I'm talking about.
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Peter Marucci
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Tony Chapparo
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My Mother made a silhouette of me and my siblings when I was a kid... I need to find those!

Very interesting thanks peter!
Tony Chapparo
bumbleface
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Vernon was not only one of the greatest magic geniuses, many people agree he was one of the greatest performers. Smile
Matt Graves
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I've never been able to find any Dai Vernon books, but somehow my little brothers has managed to learn a lot of his tricks from the internet, like "Cutting The Aces" and "Twisting The Aces". If that man invented those effects himself, he had an awesome mind. I still don't have hardly a clue how "Cutting The Aces" is done, after seeing it several times. Smile I envy with great envy anyone who ever got to witness Dai Vernon's skill firsthand.
RandyWakeman
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Quote:
On 2002-07-19 23:44, christopher carter wrote:
Reviews of his Harlequin act were tremendous. Many thought it was one of the finest performances of its day.


Actually, not true at all. The Harlequin act was a failure. Due to Mr. Vernon's stage fright, it was not performed by him at Radio City music hall even once. It was Sam Horowitz who performed every show . . .
RandyWakeman
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I should add, though, that yes - - though I met Vernon no more than nine or ten times, and he was far from a young man then . . . in an enviornment that he was comfortable in, he was spectacularly good.
Lance Pierce
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Vernon was the consummate artist. I remember when I was very young, I was fortunate to see him lecture, and what he was demonstrating was so vividly beautiful that I felt compelled to get up out of my chair and stand to one side so I could see what was happening from another angle. What I saw was that a routine could be absolutely artistic and wonderful from both sides. Not only were the effects works of art, but so where the methods, each playing in harmony with each other. It was as much a pleasure for Vernon to perform these pieces as it was for us to watch them.

Vernon's understanding of magic and performing (even though the bulk of his magical career didn't involve public performance) is unparalleled. It came at great cost, but that's the artist's way, sometimes. I have no way of measuring just how much impact he had on my magic, although it's quite a bit. All the current masters of magic owe a large part of their understanding to Vernon.

Man, I miss him.



TCR
Thoughtreader
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Vernon was a brilliant "editor" that could take a hackneyed effect and cut out everything that was superfluous and turn it inot a miracle. Any move that looked out of place, anything that could be cut to reduce the trick to it's basics was what he did and he did it well. It was one of the greatest things you could learn from him, that if it took more than two sentences to explain what you were doing, it was too convoluted for your audience to follow.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
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Dave Egleston
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If you REALLY want to learn how great Dai Vernon was Watch the REVELATIONS video tapes
(by the way - He cut a silohouette on tape) after watching these tapes you'll be sad that you couldn't sit around and talk with this guy for days such an interesting life - Most of it dedicated to the pursuit of magic. Some of the best parts of the tapes are: the disdain he holds for a young M.Ammar almost like he was forced to be at the table with him -think he knew something before anyone else?- also his discussions about the magicians in the early to mid 20th century -
Mr Marlo was as great as Mr. Vernon - He (Marlo) is probably the only man that can be put in the same catagory as Vernon - I wish I could have met them - Pretty small club on that end of the magic society - and we miss them dearly


Dave
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