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Topic: Will Rock Presents . . .
Message: Posted by: sethb (Jan 26, 2009 07:57AM)
Just finished reading a great book called "Will Rock Presents . . . " by Leo Behnke and Will Rock's daughter, Gretchen Rock.

Today the name of Will Rock is almost forgotten, and few people know that he took over the Thurston show after Thurston's death in 1936. He made a great success with it despite the Depression, the death of vaudeville and the rise of movies, stopping only because of the onset of World War Two, when he and his assistants were drafted. It's a shame that he couldn't continue the show after the war ended, as Blackstone did, and cash in on the favorable climate at that time.

Mr. Behnke had full access to Rock's diaries and scrapbooks, which enabled him to pierce together a very detailed account of Rock's life. The book is chock full of pictures of the show, including Thurston's Sawing a Woman, the Kellar Levitation, the Disembodied Princess, the Million Dollar Mystery, Stretching a Woman and several others. There are also lots of publicity pieces, flyers, one sheets and interesting correspondence between Rock, Jane Thurston and Harry Thurston.

If you've ever wondered how a full evening show trouped across America, this book will show you, and it's an eye-opener. We all think magic is a glamorous and fun profession, but perhaps it's not so glamorous when you are doing 5 or 6 shows a day between movies, or when you're working six and seven days a week, in six or seven different towns. And no matter how well you did yesterday, it's always tomorrow that counts, so there is always a continuous search for new bookings that kept the agent and advance man busy.

At $50 the book is not cheap, but it was obviously a labor of love done to preserve the history of this show. This is a hardcover book in a library binding, with good quality paper and photo reproductions. If you enjoy the history of magic, you'll enjoy this book. It's distributed by FUN, Inc. and is available through Midwest Magic or H & R Magic Books, click [url=http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:4OG7JdSc6SsJ:www.magicbookshop.com/product_info.php%3FcPath%3D1%26products_id%3D12172+%22will+rock+presents%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us]HERE[/url] to view. SETH
Message: Posted by: mtpascoe (Jan 26, 2009 01:39PM)
He was never the successor to Thurston. He just purchased the illusions.
Message: Posted by: Moxahalla (Jan 26, 2009 02:31PM)
Was it actually HARRY Thurston's (Howard's brother) props that Will purchased?

I look forward to reading this book.
Message: Posted by: mtpascoe (Jan 26, 2009 02:57PM)
I think you are correct. Bill will correct us when he comes on.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Jan 26, 2009 04:05PM)
Yes, It was Harry Thurston's props. I believe it was Jane who added the Thurston presents to the billing.

I just picked up a tape off ebay of Will Rock talking. It was pretty entertaining.

Richard
Message: Posted by: sethb (Jan 26, 2009 04:17PM)
Although the stories get a little confused, it does appear that Rock purchased Thurston's show AND presented it for 3-4 years after Thurston's death. His publicity states that the show was called "Will Rock presents Thurston's Mysteries of India."

A similar account was given by George Boston in his book, "Inside Magic," written in 1947, although it conveniently omits some of the juicier details.

As far as Rock being Thurston's "successor," if you are talking about the "mantle of magic" business that went from Kellar to Thurston, I agree that this didn't happen; I don't think that Thurston actually chose Rock to succeed him while he was alive. As has been stated, Rock simply purchased the show from Thurston's daughter and brother. But he did present it and troupe with it, which is what I said. Sorry if this wasn't clear. SETH