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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » Harry Blackstone Junior (52 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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hugmagic
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I can't think of anything in the Casper routine that is applicable to the floating light bulb routine though both are great routines in their own right.

Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
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Rainboguy
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Blackstone Sr. and Jr.'s presentation of the Floating Lightbulb was a MAGNIFICENT moment of Pure Wonder and Astonishment.....it "did Magic Proud"...and was in a league of its own, as a "Trademark" of The Blackstone Act.

That piece, along with the Cassedega Cabinet and Handkerchief, Vanishing Birdcage (with all the kids onstage), and "Rabbit in Newspaper as a Gift to Child From Audience" are, in my opinion, MASTERPIECES OF MODERN AMERICAN MAGIC.......

Not to mention that Harry Jr. was one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet.....he is deeply missed.
aceofillusions
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He was an amazing performer for sure. Any Blackstone enthusiast out there want to give me some feedback on this article I wrote about him? http://aceofillusions.com/Blog/2015/04/W......Magician
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mtpascoe
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I first saw Blackstone Jr. during the filming to the Houdini Séance at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles starring William Shatner. He looked big at the time.

I later worked with his daughter at Magic Mountain for the Bugs Bunny Magical World of Kids.

Then years later I saw him again at the Sahara in Vegas before he died. He looked much smaller to me. I me, not just thinner, but shorter. When I saw him at the Orpheum for the Houdini special, he looked taller.

An interesting thing happened during that show. Some man stood up during the show and yelled something out that no one could hear. Everyone thought it was a heckler. He persisted until he actually stopped the show. He yelled out at Harry and said, “Mr. Blackstone. You sir are the finest magician I have ever seen.”

What could be said after that? Harry didn’t know what to do as there was an awkward pause. But, being that he was dying of cancer then, I am sure it was something that made him feel good. My wife agreed with this man. Now she is not much a magic fan, but loved Blackstone. Go figure.

Anyway, that was a great memory as he is certainly one of the greats during that area of the second golden age of magic.
Dick Oslund
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Harry Jr. "opened" for ME!

Now that I have your attention! I'll tell the story.

Jack and Anne Gwynne are buried in the Colon cemetery. They had been giants in vaudeville and night clubs in the early days. Their grave marker, in Karrell Fox's words, was, "a brick!". (It WAS small and, certainly not very imposing.) Karrell got a bunch of us together,and proposed a midnight benefit show to raise funds to purchase a suitable headstone. Most of us had known Anne, and some had known Jack. We agreed. Karrell said, "There's a dozen of us. If we all do 5 minutes, we'll have an hour show. We'll ask $5.00 admission,and that should buy a nice marker. Abb Dickson will get us a good price.

Now, it's "show time". Harry Jr. was one of our group. Harry said, "I need to open because Gay and I are invited to a late party." I think we "drew numbers", and I got the deuce spot. Harry opened with the Cords of Fantasia. I did about three minutes with the Pom Pon Stick' Jerry Conklin may have followed me, I don't remember for sure. Anyway, after that, I would refer to Harry as "my opening act"! hee hee!

Re: the light bulb and the handkerchief. Artie Kidwell worked the sound at the Get Together for years. I was playing the area around Cincinnati, and visited Artie. On the living room wall were two picture frames, each had a "mouse nest" of the "motive force" for the bulb and hanky. I, of course, had been backstage over the years and recognized souvenirs of Harry's show. We had a nice laugh about them.

Someone above mentioned Harry doing the big show in Minneapolis, and seeing it later on tape for a PBS fund raising promo. Harry did the duck bucket, and he came down to the front row, and had a man stand, and look inside the bucket. Harry said, "Look into the bucket! You can see YOURSELF! The bucket is empty! I fell on the floor, laughing!

In the early '90s, I was on the road for Jack West's National School Assemblies, and was spending a weekend in Sacramento, visiting Jim Jayes, Dale Lorzo ("Ronald") and Mary Mowder & Tom, et al. Harry Jr. was doing a concert tour, and was set to play Sacramento. We went. Harry and Gay, plus a girl to box jump, two boys to push the boxes, and two young fellows in the pit to provide live music, was a nice sized unit. Harry did the girl thru the glass, I think, zig zag, and the little sawing. plus all the "personality pieces" (bulb, hanky, sands of the desert, cords of fantasia, bird cage, the committee, etc. I had seen the "BIG show", and, often at Abbott's, 30 minute "pieces". He always did a fine job, but, this night, he did the best I had ever seen him do! It was glorious!

We went out in the lobby and stood near the "BOR" joint, to visit when he had gotten out of wardrobe. Gay came out, dressed in a jump suit, and started packing the tee shirts, program books, etc. I said,"Hi Gay! Show BUSINESS, eh!" She said, "Dick, with THIS show we're making money!" We both laughed. The New York "run" was great for the press book, but it was an expensive show to stage. Harry came out and we hugged. It was the last time that I saw him.

I wrote up in my book, a funny story about Harry doing the Zig Zag in the kitehen of Abb Dickson's motor home in Colon. It was Doug Henning's Zig Zag, that Abb was delivering to Bob Lund. Doug's blades wouldn't "fit". We found a set of blades in the back room at Abbott's. It was in the show that night!

When Harry died, "we" had a memorial service at the Get Together. Gay had tapes of the Light Bulb. She needed to dub the tape for the service. I had the ONLY facility to dub. Charlie Reynolds and Gay came over to my RV, and we spent a couple hours reminiscing and putting together the memorial.
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mtpascoe
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Great story Dick.
Dick Oslund
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I would like to say a few words about Harry Jr.

While Jr. was growing up, his father was on the road with "Blackstone's Show of 1001 Wonders". Jr. saw the dress rehearsal in the Colon Opera House, and waved goodbye when the train pulled out of Colon for the opening date. Perhaps at Christmas time, Jr. visited his dad on the road. About high school age, he was enrolled in a Military School in Northern Indiana. Later, he could spend some time on the road, with dad' show.

Harry Sr. was often called the "Ziegfield" of magic. He understood how to frame a show that had flash, drama, comedy, with pretty girls to add sex appeal. True, it was not the "currently popular" style of presenting "big boxes", but, it was great in its time.

The dealers always "knew" where Harry Sr. had just played a week! They knew by the orders for Clippo, Six Card Repeat,etc. (They were "dollar tricks" that young magician wannabees could afford, and DO._

Harry Jr. had opportunity to learn all the fine details of producing an entertaining show. And, he learned especially well, the fine points of PRESENTATION of tricks like the candy box and rabbit. the wrist tie, the cage, bulb and handkerchief, clippo, six card repeat,and the "red rag". His dad was his teacher, and Jr. was a good learner.

In short, Jr. was in a sense,the "luckiest kid". His father was a MAGICIAN!

In the last few years that Sr.'s show was on the road, he was a tired, ill, old man. The war (WWII)had ended, Television was the "new" theater. It was harder to fill the seats. In April, 1950, Sr., with health failing, closed the show and "took it back to the barn" in Colon. Harry Jr. got "involved" in TV. Then, a few years later, an opportunity arose, and Jr. reframed his dad's show.

I saw one of his early performances at an Abbott Get Together. It was great to see those production numbers again! At first, the big stuff was so strong that the "in one" tricks, seemed a little weak. Harry booked the Playboy Clubs, and, polished what he had learned from the old man. When he came back to Abbott's, he was still billed as "Blackstone JR.", but he was now, BLACKSTONE!
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jakeg
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I saw Harry Jr at the Holiday House night club in Pittsburgh. Small audience, great show, but ...... The lighting was so bad, that the shadow of the floating light bulb threads were clearly visible in the shadow that the were cast on the club wall.
He had nothing short of a great stage personality.
Spongedude
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I got to see Blackstone Jr. a couple of times and had a playing card signed. I remember a younger child running after meeting him and falling down and Harry was the first one over to help the young child up. Wish all magicians could be as kind and careing as him.
intervalmagic
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I was lucky enough to have a semi-personal meeting with Harry in 1981 when he was in town for his performances at the Holiday House in Monroeville, PA (Pittsburgh). He was filming a television commercial during his visit, and my father was the still photographer that day! A couple years ago I posted my memories of this and the Holiday House performance on my blog. Check it out if you have time because you might find it interesting: https://intervalmagic.wordpress.com/2013......o-today/
David Todd
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Quote:
On Aug 21, 2015, intervalmagic wrote:
I was lucky enough to have a semi-personal meeting with Harry in 1981 when he was in town for his performances at the Holiday House in Monroeville, PA (Pittsburgh). He was filming a television commercial during his visit, and my father was the still photographer that day! A couple years ago I posted my memories of this and the Holiday House performance on my blog. Check it out if you have time because you might find it interesting: https://intervalmagic.wordpress.com/2013......o-today/



Thanks. I enjoyed reading that.


.
Jerskin
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I was fortunate to have done several gigs with Harry, Jr as well as seeing his full evening show in Detroit in the 1970s.
The floating light bulb looked great in the Palace of Mystery at the Magic Castle (it's a small theater, around 125 seats)
GrEg oTtO

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Dick Oslund
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It was about 30 years ago, at an Abbott GTG. We had just had breakfast at the M&M Café. Harry Jr., Karrell Fox, Jay Marshall, and I were standing in front of the M&M. Also, just outside were a half dozen teenage magicians. One young lad, looked up and asked, "Mr. Blackstone! What tricks have you invented?"

Harry smiled and replied, "None!" The group looked surprised. Harry continued, "You must realize that I am an ACTOR, a PERFORMER. I'm not a PLAYWRIGHT! I don't invent tricks, I perform them." The boys looked a bit surprised. I've long since wondered if they later realized what Harry had said to them!
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hugmagic
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Dick,
your are right about the dealers knowing where HB Sr. performed....Horace Marshall could follow the flower orders as he played. Senior often told Horace that "you were just a barefoot boy when I met you, now you can afford to buy shoes. "

Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
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Anatole
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Speaking of "The Floating Lightbulb"...
I remember reading in the English edition of Ottokar Foscher's _Illustrated Magic_ that Blackstone Sr. used to do a "Floating Glass of Milk." I did some searching on askAlexander and found an ad for "The f=Floating Glass of Milk" in the November 1930 issue of _The Sphinx_. I posted a screen grab of the ad on the
IBM Ring 103 Norfolk
community page:
https://www.facebook.com/338764602812514......&theater

As I mentioned in the comments on that facebook page, "The Floating Glass of Milk" sold for the bargain price of $1.00 back in 1930, with a master version selling for $5.00

I'm curious as to whether any of the readers of this thread ever saw Blackstone Sr perform "The Floating Glass of Milk" and how that routine compared with "The Floating Light Bulb" or "The Dancing Handkerchief."

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
JNeal
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Re: the Floating Glass of Milk...well, one thing is pretty certain... unlike the lightbulb... he didn't send it 'soaring off over the audience's heads'!
visit me @ JNealShow.com
hugmagic
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Horace Marshall told me about the floating glass of milk but I never saw it. Horace later sold it.
Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
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MJE
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Junior, like Senior, actually liked us. He enjoyed hanging with magicians.

I once attended a show where one of the three guys I was with was asked to be the guy who gets his shirt stolen. Naturally, he readily agreed. Oddly, Blackstone was unaware of this dude's standing as a magician.

After the show, Blackstone was sitting in the theater with us....just chatting. He did mention that if he knew this fellow was a local magic guy, he never would have asked. But, it all worked out, bad acting and all.
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Can anyone confirm that Blackstone Sr. actually performed at the New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York (circa 1964/65)? I retain a vivid memory as an eight year old enthused boy, witnessing the performance of a very tall magician in a formal suit, inside a blackened out theatre located n one of the World Fair's pavilions. And at the end he did, in fact, gift his volunteer with a live rabbit. Lucky kid! Smile
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MJE
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Quote:
On Feb 9, 2016, jlevey wrote:
Can anyone confirm that Blackstone Sr. actually performed at the New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York (circa 1964/65)? I retain a vivid memory as an eight year old enthused boy, witnessing the performance of a very tall magician in a formal suit, inside a blackened out theatre located n one of the World Fair's pavilions. And at the end he did, in fact, gift his volunteer with a live rabbit. Lucky kid! Smile


I can't give a definite, but I do remember seeing at least one magician there. Although I had nothing but a passing interest in magic at the time, I have a feeling it was Mark Wilson. Photos and video I saw of him years later reminded me of the magician I saw. It must have been '65, as the Beatles were playing across the street at Shea the day I saw that mystery magician.
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