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Topic: Remember Duke Stern?
Message: Posted by: Jim Mangham (Jan 27, 2005 02:45PM)
I was reading Abbott's Encyclopedia of Rope Tricks (volume 2)...
On page 256, Abbott's four-to-two rope trick...
It says it is a Duke Stern invention (the gimmick and false count moves)...
By the way, the gimmick may be my answer to a question I posed under Knots and Loops.
When I was nine or ten years old Duke Stern opened a magic shop in Shreveport, Louisiana (Duke and Eddie's). The shop stayed open a couple of years.
Shreveport would not support the shop. Duke became a clothing store clerk.
Then Duke fell in with Paul Diamond and went on to be a big name in corporate convention magic. Duke died of a stroke while performing in Atlanta, Georgia.
I'm not sure at what age, but it was too soon.
Duke used to talk about "up north" ... I think he spent some time with the Abbott's
outfit. I was too young to really take advantage of things I could have learned from Duke. Does anyone know why in the world he lit in Shreveport, Louisiana?
Does anyone know the whereabouts of his wife or children?
Message: Posted by: DonDriver (Jan 27, 2005 03:52PM)
Duke died at the Midwest Magic convention in St Louis Mo. of a stroke in the lobby of the hotel it was being held at. He was such a clown and funny guy that I heard that when he fell to the floor with the stroke some of the magicians started to laugh because they all though he was just being his funny self. I'm sure they all felt really bad once they found out he wasn't joking.
Duke and Abb Dixson had a dealer's booth at that convention together. I was there but not when Duke died. I was working a fair in town. When I found out the next day I was in shock as was the entire convention. It sure put a damper on things to say the least.
Abb was telling me a story the day before about Duke. On the plane flight from Atlanta the stewardess ask Duke if he would like a pillow. Duke look up and said "No thanks,if I eat another one of those *** things I'll be sick" Duke had a funny come back for everything.
Duke was also legally blind but it never slowed him down one bit!
Later, Don
Message: Posted by: Kevin Connolly (Jan 27, 2005 07:41PM)
Duke Stern was great. When he worked at Paul Diamond's in Florida is when I met him. After being him that day, I knew from then on, magic was it for me.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jan 28, 2005 12:21AM)
When I got back into magic, the first magic convention I went to was in Abilene TX in 1972. The first trick I bought at that convention was one that Duke was selling -- Farky Hollis Predicts.

Duke was a very funny man, and even though he was legally blind, he could still spot every steal in a dove act!
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Jan 28, 2005 12:33PM)
Dukey, or Sterno, as many of us called him was one of the funniest, naturally funny guys ever in magic.

He and Karrell Fox used to do some of the greatest parodies in magic at the Abbott Get Togethers (and elsewhere). I had the extreme pleasure of being "involved" in many of their gags.

Duke's Dye Version is one of the best effects you can do at a party. It is so easy, yet plays HUGE...

I have a 78 disk of his (his picture on it) that I haven't looked at in years. I think it is just music for magic, but I'm not sure. Will dig it out.

We still miss the man...
Message: Posted by: Rick Fisher (Jan 29, 2005 07:55PM)
Duke was THE first magician I ever met. He was demonstrating at Abbott's and never forget as a kid of 8 when he wad showing me the ball vase trick and a couple walked in and started picking things up. He politely excused himself and said the visitors "this is no hardware store". I remember being shocked and the couple walking out disgusted...lol..he was terrific. Duke is buried here in Lakeside cemetery in Colon, Michigan..his daughter is a very good friend of our business partner, Marilyn Abbott. Duke and his daughter lived with Percy and the Abbott family for awhile...there will never be another...Cheerio!
Rick Fisher, fabmagic.com - colon,michigan
Message: Posted by: kusoyon (Feb 3, 2005 01:24AM)
Yes, Duke will live forever in my heart and mind. I met him at Abbott's when I was a teenager back in the 60's. We met at the convention that was held in Colon. He was my mentor and proud to say my friend. The last time I saw Duke was at his little white house over by the Abbott magic shop; we talked about magic and he showed some pictures of his son. He was very proud of him. When I heard of his passing...I cried. Thank you, Duke, for caring about me. You will live forever in my heart and mind. Frank Edwin Thomas~Grand Haven/Muskegon,Michigan
Message: Posted by: Jim Mangham (Feb 9, 2005 04:27PM)
Thanks so much for sharing your Duke stories.
I was 9 or 10 when Duke opened a magic shop in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1954.
He called me and my cousin (and all young aspiring magicians) Laddie-my-boy.
I don't think Duke was as far gone with his sight in the early fifties.
Duke did an after-school children's TV show called Magic Matinee.
I was in the gallery at the first show.
Message: Posted by: Todd Robbins (Feb 20, 2005 02:02PM)
Duke lived in the house next to the Abbott's showroom in Colon. He had a crackle finish put on the toliet seat. The house and the toliet seat are no longer there.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Feb 23, 2005 11:58AM)
Duke was one of the best people (other than Flosso) at working with children on stage that I ever saw. He was amazing to watch, and made a big impression on me when I was a young performer. He was also very warm and kind.
Message: Posted by: DomKabala (Mar 22, 2005 12:35PM)
I met Duke in Ft. Lauderdale in the early '70s at Paul Diamond's magic shop. I was a student at The Art Institute Of Ft. Lauderdale and used to frequent Paul's shop...I believe Duke worked there. I spent a lot time there and saw some amazing magic...wow it's nice to hear about others who new him! Paul Diamond was great also...what great memories!
Message: Posted by: magictim (Mar 22, 2005 08:35PM)
I never met him, but before David Jones passed away, he told stories about Duke and when Duke and Eddie's was open on Texas Street in Shreveport as well as when J.B. Bobo was still alive and a member of the club here.
Message: Posted by: themagician64 (May 6, 2005 11:03PM)
I have recently inherited a lot of Dukes hand written jokes, music, props, pictures, books and personal items. I feel honored to receive these items.
Such a wealth of material. He actually lived in my home town of Clarksburg, WV and managed a clothing store there. A friend of mine actually moved him from Shreveport
to Clarksburg. I love to spend hours in my warehouse reading these personal notes, jokes and playing with the vintage magic..
Message: Posted by: dlhoyt (May 18, 2005 12:49AM)
In the middle 1960's I stopped in Colon to visit Abbott's. Duke Stern was behind the counter, but I didn't know who he was at the time. I didn't know very much magic and he was demonstrating some simple pocket tricks for me when two construction workers burst into the shop and interrupted him with a question. "Do you have anything for a 9 year old kid?" Without missing a beat Duke replied: "How about a nice knife or hatchet?" They left and Duke continued demonstrating without any other comments.
Message: Posted by: atucci (Jun 7, 2005 08:24AM)
Hey KRZ4kardz - we certainly walked the same ground as I spent a lot of time in Diamond's in the mid to late seventies. Duke was already gone by then but the local Miami/Ft Lauderdale magi's had nothing but praise for him. BTW, your profile shows you work right down the road (CR 512) from me!

Message: Posted by: mtgirl (Aug 30, 2008 08:39PM)
Duke Stern was my uncle! I know these posts on this thread are old, but I found it when I put in Duke's name to see what information was on the internet about him. He traveled a lot doing magic conventions, and when he was in my home town he would stay with us. Every time he showed me a trick and I asked him how he did it, his response would be "The other way." Then as I got older he taught me a few card tricks! He was an awesome guy, and I loved him, even tho I didn't see him often.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Aug 31, 2008 12:14AM)
I'm glad you brought this thread back up. Duke was my uncle's mentor, who in turn fostered my early interest in magic.

As a teen, I was able to meet Duke when he was in the Atlanta area. Stories about him are legendary here in the Southeast, as I'm sure they are in many other parts of the world.

Immediately following the Midwest Magic Jubilee where he died, Duke was to be at the S.E.A.M. convention in Atlanta. This was my first convention. Instead of Duke, we all saw a large display sign of him, with the announcement of his death. Many people initially thought it was a joke, as this did not seem outside the scope of pranks he would pull.

Regarding such funny business, of particular note was a pantomime magic act he presented of a young boy, doing his first magic show. One of the bits was the vanishing bird cage. After the "proper" hunched stance, and a quick prayer to the heavens, his hands shot forward so hard that his coat flew up over the top of his head.

On another occassion he was in a restaurant and when presented with the bill, held it directly in front of his face (because of his poor eyesight), and then as if severely shocked, fell completely over backward in his chair onto the floor.

I have a couple copies of the LP record album he made, "Abracadabra is my game - with Duke Stern". One of them is autographed. I understand that there was also a recording made of the out-takes. Although I would love to, I have never heard it, but know people who have, and they say it is priceless.

The world is certainly a better place because he was in it.
Message: Posted by: donsmagic (Sep 5, 2008 10:33PM)
I just listed a brand new still factory sealed Duke Stern record album "Abracadabra Is My Game" on ebay. I remember Duke at Abbott's and I still perform Duke's Dye Version.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Sep 8, 2008 03:37AM)
I understand that when they buried Duke's ashes in Colon, Karrell Fox (who told me this) wrapped the urn in some papers he found on Recil Bordner's desk.

They were the new price sheets for the Abbott's Catalog.
Message: Posted by: Rick Fisher (Sep 8, 2008 12:04PM)
I met Duke when I was 7 years old...I can remember walking into Abbotts and he was demonstrating Chinese Sticks for me - about that time a couple came in and were spinning around one of the floor displays looking at stuff....Duke said, "Excuse me folks".... looking at the tourists on the floor - "this isn't a *** hardware store!" I will never forget the look on their faces..as they stormed out...then Duke turned back to me and my parents and said, "now where was I"

The Super Salesman - he was and I shall never forget him either.....
...and yes Bill Palmer that is what really happened...
Message: Posted by: magicgettogether (Sep 18, 2008 02:53PM)
Karrell Fox remembers Duke Stern in this clip and mentions the pricesheet incident
Message: Posted by: DanGarrett (Feb 13, 2012 11:56PM)
You bet I remember Duke! Met him in Atlanta when Charles Pecor introduced me to Duke at Harris Magic Shop. (I was going to Georgia Tech and Charlie directed me in quite a few plays back then!) Dukey was a major influence on my magic. (along with Karrell Fox and Abb Dickson) When Duke passed on in St. Louis, his roommate at that convention was Obie O'Brien. When I went in to Harris Magic to see Duke after the St. Louis convention, and was informed that Duke died (by Jerry Harris), I thought he was joking with me. It took me a while to absorb the truth, and the feeling of loss was as deep as if a member of my family had died.

I will be presented my handling of a Duke Stern coin routine in my new lecture this year (2012). I have tons of Duke stories that I have witnessed or have heard. Also, Michael, I have heard the outtakes from "Abracadabra Is My Game" (I also own a personally autographed copy.) They are indeed priceless.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Feb 14, 2012 06:38AM)
I beginning to think I was lucky to let Obie room with me at Magic Montreal a few years back. He was Karrell's roommate at the Desert Seminar when he passed. He roomed a lot with Jay. And now this story on Duke.

themagician64 you should put together a book on his notes and such. I think you might be surprised how many guys would want it.

Message: Posted by: J Christensen (Feb 14, 2012 06:46AM)
I recall Duke demonstrating why he disliked Gospel magic. He held up a coin and said, "This coin represents Jesus Christ." He tried a magic pass and dropped the coin on the floor. He said, "***it!" and used his foot to pin the rolling coin to the carpet. "And that," he said, "is why I don't like Gospel magic."
Message: Posted by: Jim Sparx (Feb 25, 2012 03:42PM)
I met Duke Stern when he was manager of the Indianapolis Abbott's store on the Circle. This was about 1949. He gave me a thimble book he had written. I was about 10-11 years old and this impressed me so much I asked for his autograph. His kindness taught me a lesson about being nice to children, because they are very impressionable and you can influence them about how they see the world. I know it made me think, magicians are nice people. (Then I met Russell Swann, but that is another story).
Message: Posted by: MerlH (May 24, 2012 02:44PM)
The Louisville IBM put on a weekend getogether and the Lexington Ring provided the intertainment. I lived in Lexington at the time. Duke was the feature act of the weekend. At that time I was doing a medicine pitch "before" the Saturday night show and although Duke was the MC, he was my helper for the "pitch". We had to make huge cards for him to read as a prompter so he could see them. I was so proud to be on stage with him. After the show we had to take him to the airport to fly to St. Louis. He had his Black Jack pretty much gone, but we got him poured on the plane. He died the next day. I have the last picture, to my knowledge, taken of Duke, assisting me in my medicine pitch. It is my avatar on the Café and is on this post.

I loved Dukey. I do "Dukes Dyeversion" on every show I do in his memory. I first met him working behind the counter at Abbotts. He could take any trick and kill with it. I remember at one gettogether he pitched the ball and tube. Abbotts must have had a ton of them and Duke was trying to get rid of them. I loved the trick so much I was very worried that there would be no more left by the time it was my turn in line to buy the trick. He had some left!!!!!

Still in total awe,

Merl Hamen
Message: Posted by: Akil (May 24, 2012 03:33PM)
What types of magic did he perform?
Message: Posted by: Trois (May 24, 2012 04:13PM)
Ah...I see you found it , MerlH. I just left your house and I can say you even have other pictures of Duke. I knew him when he worked for Harris Magic in Atlanta. Such a character. I think Mullica hung out there a bit too. I actually like the demo's by Sam Harris. He was smooth at a young age. Duke was gruff and you would never forgot him and his style. My wife was scared to go in the shop as a teenager cause of that old dude......ha. She lived down the street from it. Down on LaVista. Didn't know her then but she knew who I was talking about when I mentioned him. R.I.P. Duke
ps.. As a side note I went in the shop to see him (didn't know he had died) and they told me he had made an "ash out of him-self" in St. Louis. They kept his humor alive.
Message: Posted by: MerlH (May 24, 2012 04:17PM)
Duke performed anything that closely resembled magic. His tricks were all props for his unbelievable sense of humor. The jokes and asides were what his act was about. I really believe he did everything off the top of his head because no matter how many times you saw him, you never knew what was coming next! When Karol Fox and him worked together, the audience forgot about the rest of the show and only talked about what they did which was not necessarilly magic but PURE comedy..

You had to be there.
Message: Posted by: Jim Sparx (May 24, 2012 07:59PM)
MerlH, any possibility of you sharing some pictures of Duke?
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 24, 2012 08:30PM)
Message: Posted by: Trois (May 24, 2012 09:47PM)
Great picture !
Message: Posted by: Jim Sparx (May 25, 2012 04:04PM)
Thanks, he looked like that in 1949, less wrinkles, but that devilish smile. Now I'll remember who to look for when I pass over.
Message: Posted by: motown (May 26, 2012 04:29PM)
Duke and Karrell were so much fun at the Get-Togethers in Colon. It's one of the things that made them so special.
Message: Posted by: Hookem (May 27, 2012 01:06AM)
I met Duke in 1972 at the Abilene Tx TAOM. He MC'd one evening show and did his pantomime act. I have never laughed harder than I did that night. He sold me a reel. He said to me, "Young man, buy this reel and you will not leave this booth until you use it as well as I do!" You can bet I bought it and he taught me. My wife loved him.
Message: Posted by: magicgettogether (May 27, 2012 08:15AM)
On 2012-02-25 16:42, spartacus wrote:
I met Duke Stern when he was manager of the Indianapolis Abbott's store on the Circle. This was about 1949. He gave me a thimble book he had written. I was about 10-11 years old and this impressed me so much I asked for his autograph. His kindness taught me a lesson about being nice to children, because they are very impressionable and you can influence them about how they see the world. I know it made me think, magicians are nice people. (Then I met Russell Swann, but that is another story).

Here is a pic of Duke in that store and a news article from around that era. Be sure to enlarge the pic if your browser shrinks it by clicking on it. The article is quite readable.

Message: Posted by: Jim Sparx (May 27, 2012 01:02PM)
I have a Abbott's catalog that says the store was on Ohio street,which is the street behind Monument Circle. I remember the store being next to a theater, on the circle. But that was 62 ears ago. Is there any way to get a outside view of the store and the exact street address other than the 60 Ohio Street (which is now a Shearton Hotel).

BTW, Michael Baker, I made a copy of the picture and I am going to have it framed. Thanks
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (May 27, 2012 02:03PM)
I used to have all my magician photos framed, but I now have too many to do that. Currently, I have them in large photo albums. That Duke Stern photo was part of a collection I bought in the late 1970's. Unfortunately, it is not autographed, although I have Duke's autograph on a couple other things.

BTW - For anyone interested, there are a couple copies of his LP record on Ebay right now. I already have a couple or I'd grab one myself.
Message: Posted by: Rick Fisher (Jun 10, 2012 07:00AM)
Duke was first magician I ever met in 1960's - he made quite an impression on me - although as a kid I was intimidated by his demeanor. Percy Abbott (who I never met), Neil Foster and Duke were my idols growing up.

Here is clip of him performing just months before his death in 1973

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ittVn3GlueU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Message: Posted by: Rick Fisher (Jun 10, 2012 07:02AM)
My apologies - here is the correct link

Message: Posted by: Atom3339 (Jun 10, 2012 11:02AM)
What a kick! Thanks! :)
Message: Posted by: Wabojeg (Dec 17, 2019 10:32AM)
Hello. Has anything been written up about Duke? I mean like a biography. I see the usual stuff out there, but no special publication. I'm in the process of finishing up a biography on John Osborne and in doing my research I've read a lot about Duke Stern and have come to really appreciate this man I never met. Kevin Peshick