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

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jlevey
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Yes. I have heard that Mark Wilson did one of the shows there. But it was not Mark. Almost positive it was Blackstone Sr. , but not conclusively. Smile
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Dick Oslund
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When I saw THAT show in the summer 0f '64, James RANDI was doing it. IIRC, Mark Wilson had produced the show, and various magicians performed it. I vaguely seem to remember that the voice was on tape, and, Randi "moved his lips", like the old record pantomime acts. Harry Jr. about that time, was just "starting", and may well have done a "week or two".
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hugmagic
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I doubt if Sr. was performing them. He was well up in years and had not performed much. He did come to Abbott's in 1964, I believe. I think he died in 1965. I am writing off the top of my head with dates right now. But still pretty sure he did perform in New York.

Richard
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Father Photius
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I'd agree with Richard. Uncle Harry was not in good health at all at that time. He did not perform at the World's Fair then. Mark Wilson did have a show sponsored by the American Tobacco Co and White Owl Cigars. Mark still sells a video of that show.
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msillusions
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Harry Jr was the first true professional I saw perform live while in Junior High school. And the Lightbulb was absolutely Magnificent. When it flew out over the audience, my eyes bulged and my chin dropped. That is what I wish all my audiences experience! Then after the show he signed my autograph book, "Keep the Secrets!" and was so encouraging. While performing at Six Flags Magic Mountain, his daughter Cynthia was my stage manager, and Harry came to see our show. I have never been more nervous. Had to keep telling myself, just do the same show you always do. He was so kind. And as others have said- that voice. He is missed.
Dapperdan
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What a great thread!... I'm really glad I happened upon it!

Dick and others... your first hand stories of HBJr are great! I was a Abbott's Get Together regular back in the early 80s and hearing the names of Harry Blackstone, Karrell Fox, Ab Dickson, and others brings back great memories! Harry seemed to attend the get together every other year or so, and I always looked forward to the years when he'd be there. Best part was that the part of the week that he wasn't performing, he'd be visiting around town and sitting in the audience with the rest of us for the evening shows. (One year, I remember, he and Gay were right in the seats in front of me. Even though he was acting as "one of us", it felt like being around royalty!

I miss his deep, booming voice. What was it he'd say to introduce one of his marquee piece (I forget if it was the lightbulb or (perhaps) the buzz sawing Gay in half - Something like "... you'll remember as long as you shall live..." (that's not it, though).
Tada!...

.
hugmagic
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It was the lightbulb...."Here is something you will remember the longest day you live".......he was right.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
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Dapperdan
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Quote:
On Apr 18, 2016, hugmagic wrote:
It was the lightbulb...."Here is something you will remember the longest day you live".......he was right.

That's it!! Thank you! Smile
Yes... He WAS right!
Tada!...

.
Dick Oslund
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Harry Jr.'s father always did the "DUCKS" (the "TUB", and the "DUCK INN") which was mentioned earlier in this thread. I don't remember Harry Jr. ever doing it. Someday when I have time, I'll write up a "story" about Nick Ruggiero, and the Duck Inn!
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danaruns
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In the early 1980s I was a musician. I got a gig playing for Harry, Jr. (he was using a live orchestra) at the La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts in L.A. From the orchestra pit, I could see some of the secrets. (I could also see Gay doing all the hard work while Harry stood out front and was showered with applause, but that's a different issue familiar to female magicians. Smile ) Doing that gig is what kindled my passion for performing magic. I never told him I wanted to perform magic, and that he inspired me. But he did.
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hugmagic
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Jr. did the Ducks in the Pre-Broadway show. I have probably the only film of him doing the routine.

I just did a talk with Adele Friel Rhindress at the Battle of Magicians in Canton, Ohio. The Duck's Inn was one of the topics we touched on. Nick's part was very important to the success of the routine.

Richard
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
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Dick Oslund
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Nick Ruggiero and I discussed the DUCK INN, some years ago. I saw the Blackstone Sr. show, that last season, and, as Richard has noted just above, Nick had a "subtle" (???!!!) but "importantrole" to play!

I will try t0 block out some time, this week, to tell the story, of the DUCK INN, which Nick told me. [WATCH THIS SPACE!]
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Dick Oslund
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November 1945...I was 13, almost 14, and, just starting to perform. My parents drove to Milwaukee, an "all day" drive, then! They took me along! Harry Blackstone, pere, was appearing at the Davidson theater. My father talked with the theater manager. I was invited backstage to meet "Mr. B" before the matinee!

Blackstone was most courteous, and visited for a few minutes. I was thrilled! I had seen Stanley (Susan) my first magician about 7 years before. Sometime in 1940, KEYSTONE (Clifford Withdrow) had performed at a church in Escanaba. I had seen his evening show. Harold Sterling had appeared at my school in the early '40s, but, my teacher, a strict old nun would not allow me to meet him. Now, I was to see the last of the big illusion shows!

70 years later, having seen, perhaps a thousand magicians, I can still "see" that show! (In the five years that followed, I saw that show, seven times!) The first time I saw the "DUCKS", I was baffled beyond belief!

An old fashioned wooden laundry tub was spotted center stage. Ten water pails, each decorated with one letter of Harry's surname: B L A C K S T O N E ! were spread out in a neat row, on stage. One at a time, the buckets were emptied into the tub, which an assistant had shown empty. Blackstone pointed at the tub, and about a dozen ducks scrambled, dripping wet, from the tub. This was ten times "better" than one rabbit from one hat! The audience, me too, screamed with laughter.

The assistants "guided" !!! the ducks into the "Duck Inn". It looked a bit like a little girl's doll house, about three feet tall, and, perhaps four feet square. Blackstone clapped his hands, and the doll house was folded into a flat pile of lumber. Those ducks had disappeared. From the flies, what looked like an old wooden barrel, was lowered on a spot line. I could see right through it when the assistants tilted it. The barrel was flown to about 8' above the floor. It hung vertically. The assistants spread a blanket sized cloth under the barrel, like a firemen's "rescue" blanket, and, the ducks fell, quacking, from the barrel. The whole routine couldn't have lasted five minutes. It had been fast, funny, and, it sure fooled me!

The most amazing part of the routine was that VANISH OF A DOZEN LIVE DUCKS FROM THE "DUCK INN" WHICH WAS NOW A FLAT PILE OF PLYWOOD! In the next several years, I was to learn that a lot of magicians, NOT just me, had been fooled by the DUCK INN!

In the next five years, I saw it at least six more times. About the third or fourth time, I was able to "catch" it. ABSOLUTE SIMPLICITY! plus, "gutsy" misdirection by the assistant(s). It took my seeing it several times to realize that the misdirection was different, each season! It was GREAT stagecraft!

Nick Ruggiero, and Dick Berry were assistants for that final season of the "1001 Wonders" show. I don't remember how, but, we were about the same age (18/19)and I met them. It was a non matinee day, and we went to their hotel room (The Belmont Hotel) and spent several hours "jackpotting" about our magic experiences. Then, we went to the theater, put Blackstone's burro on a leash and took the beast, decorated with a "blanket" with the words: "Blackstone's Senora" on it. We walked around downtown Milwaukee, and got chuckles from pedestrians! (and, free advertising for the show!)

I didn't see Nick again for about thirty years. We met at a convention. I reminded him of our burro walking. That's when he told me about his part in the DUCK INN. I had seen in those late '40s years, various misdirection "methods", including "Nick's big bit" in that last season. Nick then told me the backstage "story" of his "part".

The DUCK INN was spotted downstage right, about three or four feet from the wings. The INN was just a "shell" of plywood. The ducks had to "exit, stage right", and, this needed MISDIRECTION! As I've mentioned, the misdirection was different each season.

That final season, Nick was "it". He was about 19, and athletic. When the ducks were safely inside the iNN. Nick would enter from upstage left, apparently slip, and do a "prat fall", actually a full body fall. Attention was on Nick! The ducks were "sneaked off" downstage right at the same moment. If you kept your eyes on the INN, you SAW them go! They were actually in a wooden "tunnel" inside the INN and, the tunnel was DRAGGED off stage by a rope, and a husky offstage assistant!

Nick told me that he had a small carpet on the floor where he made his "spectacular" entrance. He could put one foot on the carpet. It would skid, and, he could do a spectacular fall, landing on his shoulders. He needed that carpet to skid, to make the fall. The other assistants, to relieve boredom would often play little jokes on each other. The third or fourth week on the road, he started to enter and put a foot on the carpet. The carpet wasn't there! As he started to put his foot on it, the carpet, with a thin black cord attached, was jerked toward stage right!. Nick adlibbed a spectacular stumble, and the ducks did their exit!

The next show, as he stood in the wings, waiting, he checked and saw no cord. At the right moment, he stepped on the carpet. IT WOULDN'T SKID! The guys had TACKED IT TO THE FLOOR!. He did another "adlib stumble".

He had been "initiated", so the guys quit the gag. They had had their fun. Nick's shoulder was getting sore. (No padding on stage floors!) He went to Pete Bouton, Harry's brother, and, stage manager. "Pete! my shoulder is getting sore from that fall." Pete responded< "Well, land on your head!" (The show must go on!!!)
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Dapperdan
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Dick... an AMAZING story!... thank you for sharing!
Of all the true magic greats that I never got a chance to see, Blackstone Sr. is definitely the one I regret the most! (Of course, I was only 8 months old when he died.)
Tada!...

.
Dick Oslund
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I developed callouses on all 12 of my fingers, typing that! Glad you; enjoyed.

Last I heard, Nick was retired somewhere in Arizona. That was a couple of years ago. He was a year or so older than I when we met in the fall of '49.

The DAVIDSON THEATER is now a parking lot.
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Anatole
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Getting back to the magician who appeared at the New York World's Fair--this article from the _New York Times_ provides some information:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/22/arts/d......tml?_r=0

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
Dick Oslund
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P.S. Elephants are said to have their graveyards, but, WHERE DO OLD MAGICIANS' PROPS GO?

I have no idea where the DUCK INN is, but, someone told me a few years ago that the DUCK TUB was now "retired" and is comfortably parked on an old Colonite's front lawn. where it now serves as a flower planter.
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ColtonRaelund
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Quote:
On May 12, 2016, Dapperdan wrote:
Dick... an AMAZING story!... thank you for sharing!


Same Here!
Dick Oslund
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Quote:
On May 12, 2016, Dapperdan wrote:
Dick... an AMAZING story!... thank you for sharing!
Of all the true magic greats that I never got a chance to see, Blackstone Sr. is definitely the one I regret the most! (Of course, I was only 8 months old when he died.)


Ya shoulda planned to be born ten years earlier! LOL

That old man was often called the "Ziegfeld of magic". Styles of performing have changed, but, when he had his box car full of "1001 Wonders on the road, I would take the train from Upper Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (all night ride) to see Blackstone, and, learn about how to present magic. In retrospect, that trip was well worth it.
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hugmagic
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Nick was retired in AZ but has developed Alzhemer's and moved back east with his son.
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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