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Topic: Blackstone Tire Illusion
Message: Posted by: jkesler (Dec 21, 2005 09:45PM)
I am looking for information on the working of the Blackstone Sr. "Tire Illusion". Any information on presentation and method would be welcome. Thank you in advance for your replies.
Best Wishes,
Message: Posted by: Chezaday (Dec 22, 2005 12:19AM)
Hi James .. you might be able to find some video of this illusion as his son, Harry Jr. also performed this illusion from time to time. There is even a DVD available that might have it on there. This may still be the property of Mrs. Blackstone as far as performing or recreating this illusion. I think if you send an email to her you'll get all the information you'll need. Look it up online possibly under Blackstone Magik .. yes with a "k" in magic. Good luck ..

Message: Posted by: Paul Hughes (Dec 22, 2005 05:51AM)
Blackstone Jr performed the "Tire Illusion" on the Best of Magic in the UK about 15 years ago. There may be some people around with a VHS/DVD of the performance.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Dec 22, 2005 08:33AM)
Blackstone Jr. performed a version of the Tires but not exactly as Sr. did. George Johnstone tipped the whole thing to me once. It was typical Blackstone Sr. simple and gutsy but it worked 100%. The original apparatus was owned by Mark Wilson and is now in the Copperfield museum where I saw it last year.

Jr.'s version is on tape. It might be on the dvd or the PBS special. Bill Smith made the apparatus and had a devil of time working with the heavy truck tires.

A great illusion but it takes the proper staging and personality to properly sell it.

Message: Posted by: John Martin (Dec 22, 2005 08:53AM)
Hi James,

You'll find a performance of it on the Magical Moments DVD from Stevens. It's in the Christmas Toyland sequence.

Message: Posted by: magicmanfrank (Dec 22, 2005 12:52PM)
I've also seen a version on one of Bill Smith's promo materials showing some of the Illusions that he has built. You may want to contact him as well.

Message: Posted by: jkesler (Dec 22, 2005 08:50PM)
Thank you to everyone who replied...I will let you know what I find out.
Happy Holidays,
Message: Posted by: entity (Dec 23, 2005 04:20PM)
Few people know that this illusion was originally conceptualized by Walter Gibson, who passed the idea along to Blackstone, Sr.

Gibson had thought of it as a part of his SHADOW series of novels and radio plays. In one of the plays, a gang of thugs are chasing The Shadow, ready to shoot him with machine guns. The hero dives into a rack of rubber tires to escape. The thugs pull out the tires, one by one, but The Shadow has vanished.

The tires used by Blackstone SR. were multi-colored and very thin as compared to today's car or truck tires.

This illusion certainly doesn't pack small, and requires several assistants and a theatre fly system to pull it off properly, but in the right cirucmstances, is very novel and mystifying.

- entity
Message: Posted by: Blair Marshall (Dec 31, 2005 04:54PM)
Cool post Entity!!

Blair Marshall
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Dec 31, 2005 09:14PM)
The best thing for Blackstone was the advertising he could generate for local dealers by using "their tires".

I had forgot it was Walter Gibson's idea.

Message: Posted by: jkesler (Jan 2, 2006 08:27AM)
I would like to thank everyone for there information...lots of good stuff.
Thanks again,
Message: Posted by: Deke Rivers (Jan 2, 2006 02:33PM)
Wasn't there a version of this in a book by Tom Palmer?
Message: Posted by: Norrabmagic (Sep 8, 2007 10:14AM)
Is this in print anywhere? are the rights available? I am interested in this effect. Any help would be appreciated.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Sep 8, 2007 01:41PM)
Norrabmagic, contact Gay Blackstone. magik@blackstonemagic.com or 12800 Puesta Del Sol , Redlands, CA 92373-7408
909.792.1227 ph
909.794.2737 fax
or you can sometimes reach her through the magic castle, since she is president of the board.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Starr (Sep 8, 2007 02:37PM)
Here's a video of Harry Blackstone Jr. performing it:

Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Sep 8, 2007 08:06PM)
Thanks Chris... had never seen it.
Message: Posted by: Starrpower (Sep 9, 2007 03:04PM)
That's a different version than I'm familiar with. I've seen a stack of tires on one side of the stage inside of which the girl is, the rack center stage. The tires are unstacked and rolled across the stage to the other side where they are restacked and the girl emerges. Method used BA and only one girl.

Two completely different methods. Which, if either, are proprietary?
Message: Posted by: M-Illusion (Sep 9, 2007 03:10PM)
I don't believe the method Starrpower described is proprietary. If it's the version using the triangular BA tables, I know for a fact it is in several books. I believe it might be in one put out by Abbott's, New Tops illusions, or something like that? I would have to look.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Sep 9, 2007 04:28PM)
Harry Jr's version is a bit different from his dad's which was pretty gutsy. But then Harry Jr never tried to copy his dad and generally took illusions his dad did and improved on the performance. Harry, Jr's was still gutsy in its own right, but not exactly the same way Uncle Harry did it.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Sep 9, 2007 07:45PM)
Photius, is correct. Jr's version was much different than his dad's.

I would talk to Bill Smith about it. Bill will tell you if he would make it for you or if it is proprietary.

Realize, this is a heavy illusion in many and requires quite a few assistants to properly stage it. You just don't grab a girl and guy and do it.

Reread my earlier posts carefully. I do have a reasonable background on this straight from the horse's mouth.
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Sep 9, 2007 08:09PM)
You might consider remaking the illusion with one (or more) of these:

You could get the same effect, but with none of the weight. If you want the separateness of the tires, you could make a stack of play tunnels of different colors, that all Velcro together.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Sep 9, 2007 09:09PM)
The idea of the illusion was to use local tire dealer's tires for advertising. They should be real tires if you want the lay public to think they are just tires.

Message: Posted by: MagicErik (Sep 10, 2007 06:02AM)
I have seen an illusionist perform something like this with racing tires. It looked amazing. The tires from Blackstone are for sale. Just contact them...
Message: Posted by: Blair Marshall (Sep 10, 2007 06:23AM)
There have been many methods used to accomplish this effect.

Blair Marshall
Message: Posted by: Norrabmagic (Sep 10, 2007 11:47AM)
I was thinking a more urban feel with motorcycle tires. Themed accordingly. I will give Gay a call.
Message: Posted by: Blair Marshall (Sep 10, 2007 09:12PM)
There was even an illusion with giant Lifesavers (candy) that was similar.

Blair Marshall
Message: Posted by: EggMagic (Sep 11, 2007 06:33AM)
I saw this live years ago by Jr. Personally, if you had a REASON for tires (promotion for instance) I could see doing it. If NOT, then life savers, deformed giant records, the color fabric tubes someone else suggested, or some other round disk with hole would be as good or better. I always thought it odd that in this show of gorgeous props, there was a stack of tires.
Message: Posted by: Blair Marshall (Sep 11, 2007 06:36AM)
I believe both Thurston and Blackstone Sr. did Vanishing Cars.

Blair Marshall
Message: Posted by: illusionman2 (Sep 14, 2007 05:46PM)
On 2006-01-02 15:33, Deke Rivers wrote:
Wasn't there a version of this in a book by Tom Palmer?

It was in book -- Modern Illusions by Tom Palmer page 12 Name----In Tire Vanish
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Sep 14, 2007 06:57PM)
Tom Palmer's method is not the same as the Blackstone but it would workd with some modifications.

Message: Posted by: mikefallen (Mar 11, 2014 06:34PM)
As far as I know, there is a clip of harry jr. performing the tire illusion. I amnot familiar with harry sr. version, but I once spoke to dennis loomis about h doug henning and his daning hanky and he was so kind to tell me about "things that go bump in the night"...eventually, we discussed the tire illusion and also the floating light bulb. Dennis saw harry sr. perform both the illusions live several times... Harry jr. version of the tire illusion, seems not to be possible as what it really is. I just think: I am a magician, so, I would not do it like that...! but it worked indeed and so it was performed like it was.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Mar 11, 2014 08:34PM)
I saw Harry Sr. do it at the old Davidson Theatre in Milwaukee in 1945. I was only 13, and had never seen an illusion show. It was a phenomenal effect to my young eyes!

Years later,after seeing Harry's show a number of times, and having talked with George Boston--and George Johnstone, I really appreciated it! Johnstone and I became good friends and he tipped a lot of information on Mr. B.'s show. Jay Marshall said that he watched it from the orchestra, the balcony and the gallery, from center, left and right, and he couldn't figure it!

The assistants on the show hated it! The tires were heavy!!! --and they didn't pack flat!!! The assistants had to stack the tires vertically on top of the "elephant tub". Old joke: an old assistant was asked if he had worked on the old Blackstone Show. He answered with a grin: "Sure I was on the Blackstone show! --Wanna see my truss?"

BTW...Harry Sr. worked it "in one"!

I only saw Harry Jr. do it once. It was in that show in England. It looked great! Well, everything that the Blackstones did looked great.

Hey! You "shoulda" seen the DUCK INN!!! --ask Nick Ruggiero!!! Nick was on the show the last couple of years. He was the "important" assistant for the Duck Inn!!!
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Mar 11, 2014 08:49PM)
I believe I have the only footage of Jr. doing the Ducks Inn. It took me three times watching to catch it.

Yes, Nick might "slip" and tell you about his part in the illusion :).

Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Mar 11, 2014 08:59PM)
I thought the Tire Illusion was published in the Marconic hard bound book. My copy is stored, can't look. Or maybe it was in an old Genii Magazine.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Mar 12, 2014 07:58AM)
It is not in that book and to my knowledge the real work has never been published. As George explained it all to me, I realized how lucky I was to have this explanation and how typically "Blackstone" simple it was.

Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Mar 12, 2014 08:34AM)
Yeah! That old man has been called the ZIEGFELD" of MAGIC, and I truly believe it.

I have a picture of Harry Sr., from an old souvenir program. It's Harry, a couple of girls, and a GOAT! I never saw him do it, but in talking with a few old geezers who did, it was CHUTZPAH 100%!!! I can't tip it here, 'cuz it'a an open forum, but, like the tires, and the duck inn, and the goose and burro from the drum, it was typical BLACKSTONE!!!

George Johnstone, besides the tires, had some neat stories about Harry's Indian Rope, and his LEVI. Nick Ruggiero has some great stories about his part in the duck inn.
Message: Posted by: David Charvet (Mar 12, 2014 01:19PM)
Charles Reynolds told me one of the big secrets to the success of the illusion's PACING on the Blackstone Sr. show was that they used large, thin, Ford Model T type tires which were available in the 1920's and 30's. The tires are light and they can be rolled quickly across the stage. When Harry Jr. did it in his show (recreated with Charles' help) they used modern truck tires, which are bigger and heavier, so the pacing of the illusion was much slower.

As a car collector, I told Charles that you can still buy new Model T style tires from Coker Tire in Tennessee. Of course they were all painted different colors for the illusion. As mentioned previously in this thread, motorcycle tires would also be good.
Message: Posted by: aheads (Mar 18, 2014 05:30PM)
Here's a working link to Blackstone Jr's version of the Tire Illusion on You Tube:


I can see how this version works but I have no idea if it has the same method as Blackstone Snr's version.
Message: Posted by: Julie (Mar 18, 2014 07:21PM)
I remember David Copperfield having a Blackstone Sr. Tire Illusion in his museum/whse.

Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Mar 19, 2014 07:20AM)
It is the original Blackstone Tire illusion.