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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Did you hear the latest? » » Harry Lorayne died this morning. 96 year. (13 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Francois Lagrange
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I always thought that if anyone could cheat the Grim Reaper, Harry was the man. But it was not to be. A huge loss. R.I.P.
Protect me from my friends, I'll deal with my enemies.
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Finding Harry's The Magic Book in the library is what got me into magic. He will be missed.

May perpetual light shine upon him.
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I sent him a card about a month ago. Hope he got to see it.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
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Harry Lorayne (May 4, 1926 – April 7, 2023)


On Friday 7 April came the sad news of the passing of American magician Harry Lorayne, at the age of 96. He was just a few weeks away from his 97th birthday. Even at his advanced age, he continued to be active in online forums and email correspondence. To celebrate his 90th birthday, he even presented a terrific lecture on card magic, including some mind-blowing performances of his trademark card magic.

Few magicians are as respected and prolific as Harry Lorayne. He was known for being the world's foremost expert in memory training, and frequently did demonstrations where he would remember the names of large audiences of 1000 people or more. But his first love was card magic, and he enjoyed a very successful career as a magician and entertainer. Combined with his natural talent and his charismatic personality as a showman, and a genuine ability to entertain and also to teach, as well as to create and innovate, he quickly became one of the leading names of his time.

Millions of his books on memory techniques and on card magic are also in print. He's highly regarded in the magic community for his immense contribution to magic literature, with many fine volumes bearing his name, including his classic Close-Up Card Magic (1962), and other influential works that are included in The Classic Collection (Vol 1-5), as well as his fine DVD set Harry Lorayne's Best Ever Collection (Vol 1-4). His books demonstrate a remarkable ability to teach card magic via the written word, and his skill in doing this cogently and clearly was rarely matched.

To get an idea of his talent and showmanship, treat yourself to watching this performance of one of his signature routines, "Magician vs Gambler". This classic Harry Lorayne trick does a great job of showcasing his skill in sleight of hand, as well as his larger-than-life charismatic persona that was typical of his performances. A true story-teller and entertainer, Lorayne tells the story of a bet between a magician and a gambler, in which the magician is challenged to produce a four-of-a-kind after multiple cuts. He almost succeeds, but when the final card turns out to be a miss, only magic can save the day. And the result is truly magical, as cards not only mysteriously change, but then prove to have been in his pockets all along.


I've corresponded with Harry numerous times, and he was always generous in his responses, which were typically filled with wit, anecdotes, and of course his well-known encouragements to read "the good stuff". Five years ago I did an interview with Harry about playing cards, which you'll find here. Later that same year I did an interview with him about magic. Bear in mind that he was over 90 years old when he did this, and he was still sharp as a tack, and his mind was filled with valuable insights, and his pen with good advice.

Due to circumstances at that time, that interview was never published. I'm pleased to share it now, as a tribute to a man who was truly one-of-a-kind. Thank you Harry Lorayne for everything that you gave us.



ENDER: You had a difficult childhood - how did magic play a role in rescuing you as a person?

HARRY LORAYNE: I had a terrible childhood. Born on the mean streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, in New York City – right off the East River. It was a ghetto. I’m an original “dead-end” kid. My parents were professional poor people. I had a lousy childhood. And I was terribly, terribly shy – to the point of sickness. Got it from my mother. I was too shy to raise my hand in early school classes when I needed to go to the bathroom!! I never spoke to anyone unless they spoke to me first – never made eye contact.

Most afternoons I went to a neighborhood park where a counselor taught us shuffleboard, paddle tennis, etc. I was about eleven years old when he took us indoors on a rainy day and – he did a card trick! Talk about a “pivot point.” That literally, unequivocally, changed my life. I kept thinking “If only I could do that.” I was too shy to ask the counselor how to do it – nor did I realize that you didn’t ask magicians how they did their tricks – they wouldn’t tell you anyway. I needed a deck of cards so that I could try to work it out. I stole empty milk bottles outside doors of apartments in my tenement building. I got two cents for each when I brought them to the local ma-and-pa grocery store. I needed 18 cents for a deck of cards. Got the deck, worked out about five ways to do the trick I’d seen.

But knowing a card trick and not performing it for anyone is similar to "does a tree falling in the forest make a sound if there’s nobody there to hear it?" So I actually started to say three words to someone before they spoke to me: "Pick a card"!! And I loved, literally loved, the reaction, the attention, I was receiving…never had experienced that before. So I did the trick whenever I could for whomever I could. As time went by people started asking if I could do another trick for them. There were very few close-up or card magic books in the library way back then. And when/if I found one that contained anything in that category, I’d smell the lovely pages, check out the book, run home clutching it to my chest.

As time went by, I did learn a few other-than-card tricks. One was the multiplying billiard balls – made my own set with ping pong balls – since there’d be no way regular billiard balls would fit between my small, 12-year-old fingers. And, another pivot point for me – a professional magician, an older man named Raymonde, saw me do it. He then paid me a dollar each time to appear at his performances and do the multiplying billiard-ball routine. Another, surprising, lesson learned – I was able to get up and perform in front of a large audience!! So, “How did magic change me as a person?” It started taking me out of that terrible/sick cage of shyness.

ENDER: How supportive were your parents of your decision to go into magic?

HARRY LORAYNE: I’ve already mentioned that I had a terrible childhood. I never, ever, heard my father or mother say to me – “I love you.” I never was hugged or kissed. I did that first card trick I learned for my father once (he died when I was 12). He paid about 80 percent attention, and did say something to my mother about it – but that was it. I never really did magic again for him, my mother or my brother. Never received any support from them, in or for any area. They never checked my homework; never asked “How is school?” They were all too busy being “professionally poor”!

ENDER: Memorizing or magic - which is your true love, and why?

HARRY LORAYNE: Magic was my first true love – still is; changed my life. But memory was my career. Really no comparison career-wise. For example, sell 1000 magic books within the magic fraternity and that’s considered a best seller. My books on memory training have sold about twenty million copies, in about eleven languages. And magician group budgets for a lecturer couldn’t compare in any way at all to the money I received for my memory appearances.


ENDER: Why do people enjoy watching magic, and what gives magic its magnetic quality?

HARRY LORAYNE: It’s entertainment…at least it should be. Just as singing, dancing, acting, being a comedian is. I think that “the magnetic quality” is up to the performer.

ENDER: How important is one's own personality in performing magic, and how did this play a role in your own career?

HARRY LORAYNE: I guess I was very fortunate in that my personality just “worked” in my two areas of expertise, magic and memory. When I was in my early ‘teens I wanted to be like Danny Kaye. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I couldn’t sing, dance or tell jokes. But I was a good “ad-libber.” During my memory act I’d elicit laughs throughout while amazing the audience at the same time. If something happened for which I’d receive a pretty good laugh for my responding ad-lib, that ad-lib became a standard when/if the same “something” happened. I always felt it was important to entertain as I amazed – and those interspersed laughs helped in the entertainment area.

ENDER: As a well-known showman and entertainer, what are your thoughts about the importance of presentation in magic?

HARRY LORAYNE: Over the decades in my career as “The World’s Foremost Memory-Training Specialist” I had quite a few imitators – rip-offs/copiers. One theatrical agent actually sent out one of those rip-offs under my name! This was, obviously, before I became well known. After that, as time went by, there were those who copied my “act” step for step. They knew how to do the memory work – because I taught how to do it in all my books! But, they put their audiences to sleep! What could be more boring than watching someone remember things for 45/60 minutes!? Magic and memory are my talent but the nitty-gritty is – I'm an entertainer.

ENDER: What differences are there in how an amateur and a professional approach magic?

HARRY LORAYNE: The only difference I can “see” is that a professional is going to do the same “set” stuff at each of his paid appearances …at least until he learns, comes across, an item he feels would “work” – fit into and for – his “act.” An amateur will keep doing, trying, new stuff – stuff he just learned, etc. Which is fine.

ENDER: As someone who has performed across multiple decades, what is the key to longevity in the magic industry?

HARRY LORAYNE: Being so good that you’re continually asked to appear.

ENDER: How has technology impacted the magic industry over the last couple of decades?

HARRY LORAYNE: The main weakness I see because of the internet and youtube is that it has hurt the sale of books. And, in my opinion, newbies can learn more from books. Sure, computers, the internet – great things. One of the strengths so far as magic is concerned, is that it has probably interested more people in magic. The weakness? The garbage, bad magic, I too often see on youtube, and taking interest away from books.

ENDER: Have audiences changed since you first started with magic?

HARRY LORAYNE: No, not really. They still want to be fooled and of course – entertained. And they’re always fooled more when you use their deck. The stronger the effect you’re doing and the more “impossible” it is, the more your audience will think (or say) “Gotta’ be a trick deck.” The only way to prove you’re not using a trick deck is to use their deck!


ENDER: Of the many giants of magic you rubbed shoulders with in your younger years, which magicians had the biggest impact on you personally?

HARRY LORAYNE: The following were personal friends, friends who had effect on my thinking, and over the years, seems as if I had some effect on their thinking: Dai Vernon, John Scarne, Francis Carlyle, Dick Cardini, Larry Jennings, Bill Simon, Roy Benson, Karrell Fox, Frank Garcia, Kuda Bux, Tom Mullica, Ace Greenberg, Jean Hugard, Richard Himber, Derek Dingle, Larry Jennings, Jimmy Grippo, Martin Nash – and on and on, including many current “young’uns.”

ENDER: What is the most difficult trick you ever performed, and what made it so hard?

HARRY LORAYNE: If I had to mention one right away, without thinking about it too much or long, I’d say – what just came to mind – my Card Sharp & Four Gamblers routine. The actual trick isn’t that difficult – the one-hand cut takes only minimum practice. It’s setting the deck “impromptuly” that made me think of it. I always wanted to go into that routine whenever I thought it’d “fit.” I didn’t want to, and never did, rely on a previously set deck. I wanted to be able to go right into it and when someone handed me a shuffled deck So, it was the “setting” as I openly searched for and tabled the four aces, that was a bit difficult at first.

ENDER: Do have any good stories you can share about a magician "fail" that you experienced?

HARRY LORAYNE: One of the hotels in the Catskill area of New York that I appeared at doing the memory act a few times the first two summers when I was just breaking in the act was owned by a friend (Phil) who was into magic, and knew that I did magic. Each time after I did the “Marvels of Memory” memory act he’d ask me to do some card magic for some of his special guests in a separate small room. In those days I always ended with card on ceiling at my card magic performances. The last time when I did it, the room ordinarily used was being repaired, so we assembled in a different room.

So, I go into the card on ceiling piece, just at the point where I’m going to toss the deck up to the ceiling – and that’s the first time I see the ceiling! There are large wooden beams across it, large spaces between them. I was already into the toss – too late to stop it. And – the deck hit one of the beams and then bounced out of sight behind the one next to it! Dead silence as I, and all audience members, stared up at the ceiling where the deck had disappeared. As I tried to think of a way out, one card appeared between the two beams and fell. I caught it – it was the selected card! Obviously I acted as if that was exactly what I had planned. Standing ovation. I never did card on ceiling again after that!

ENDER: If someone was making a list of a dozen of Harry Lorayne's greatest hits, what signature tricks do you hope would be included?

HARRY LORAYNE: According to your audience – always. But generally – my HaLo Aces, HaLo Cut Cop, HaLo Force, Startler, Double Take, Magician Vs. Gambler, Lorayne’s Poker Deal, Card Sharp And The Four Gamblers, Take Five, One-Eyed Jack Sandwich, That’s The Truth, Best Card Handler, Fantastic Ace Assembly, Stop!, Out of This Universe, Impromptu Out of This World, Lorayne Card Force, my Ambitious Card Routine, Sweet 4-Card Change, A Much Better Chance, Slider Finder, Blown Further Away, Epitome Location, Really!, S/H/F Killer, That’s Impossible.

ENDER: If someone unearthed the ruins of an old library 500 years from now, which of your magic books do you hope that they find?

If the “unearther” is just a sort-of beginner, newcomer to, magic, then my The Magic Book. I’ve been told over the decades that it is one of the best – many call it the best – book for beginners. Then, of course, Close-Up Card Magic.

ENDER: What advice would you give to a young person just starting to learn card magic for the first time today?

HARRY LORAYNE: My advice to the young (or old) person would be to pick up a copy of my book, The Magic Book. I wrote it just for you, because it specifically teaches a young (or old) person the basics of card magic. Then, when you’ve learned the basics, you can check out all the other books that I wrote. One of the important things in that book is my stressing that "I want to save you the forty years I spent learning sleights I never used."



For more entertaining Harry Lorayne card magic, start by watching his dazzlingly and energetic Ambitious Card, and the remarkable display of skill in Numero Uno. You can see him performing more wonderful card magic over on his YouTube channel. Also see the interview series Before I Forget with Harry Lorayne and Rudy Tinoco.

I've written extensive reviews of several of Harry's books and videos, which you'll find here:

- The Jaw Droppers Lecture by Harry Lorayne - a rare opportunity to see a legend perform and teach card magic at the age of 90!
- The HaLo Project: The Magic of Harry Lorayne (Vol. 1) by Rudy Tinoco - the first of a series of videos teaching hidden gems of Harry Lorayne's card magic
- The HaLo Project: The Magic of Harry Lorayne (Vol. 2) by Rudy Tinoco - more hidden gems from Harry Lorayne's card magic

- The Classic Collection by Harry Lorayne - the definitive collection of card magic from the legendary Harry Lorayne
- Jaw Droppers! by Harry Lorayne - a superb volume of card magic from the legendary Harry Lorayne
- Jaw Droppers! Two by Harry Lorayne - over seventy great card tricks from living legend Harry Lorayne!
- And Finally! by Harry Lorayne - one of the final books from one of the best writers on card magic

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Thanks Enders, well done, that was very entertaining and insightful.
Leo H
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Thank you Enders! That was fantastic! Gunna miss Harry.
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Thanks for posting this!
MJ Marrs
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Super! Thank you!
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Thank you Enders.
I value the few times he and I corresponded. He was helpful and generous with his replys to questions I asked.
Robert P.
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Thank you EndersGame. You always have some of the best content on the Magic Café. Looking forward to reading this later once I have more time, so I can take it all in at once.
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Great stuff, as always.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
Douglas Lippert
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RIP Harry! You will be missed.
Douglas Lippert
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Rest in Peace Legend
The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love & be loved in return.
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Sorry to hear of his passing! He taught me and so many of us in the Café (from books, videos and correspondence) many things about the art of card magic...and magic entertainment in general. I'll even miss his banter. Lynn
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Thank you Enders for posting this. He was a true legend, an unparalleled inspiration in magic, and his absence will be felt deeply within the magic community. Rest in peace Harry.
Slim King
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Passing over is sad on this side. RIP
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Did you hear the latest? » » Harry Lorayne died this morning. 96 year. (13 Likes)
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