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Topic: Orson Welles and the Koran Medallion?
Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Apr 15, 2002 04:46PM)
I actually put this question at the end of my topic in Food for Thought under No Rules in Fooling the Public, but I thought it should also be here. Does anyone remember Orson doing the Koran Medallion on Merv Grifftith? It was in the early seventies. I remember being stunned by it then as I got more into magic it seemed more incredible and impossible the way I remembered it. Finally, I grasped a theory that I believe, knowing how Orson operated, is correct. Please someone tell me I haven't been hallucinating all these years... well, at least, not about the Orson memory!
Message: Posted by: E-Leoni (Apr 16, 2002 08:41AM)
I used to watch Merv, I don't remember him doing it,..I do remember Orson on CArson doing a card in cigar thing though.

Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Apr 18, 2002 06:08PM)
Okay, here is what I remember: He did the standard Medallion effect where random people were selected to pick numbers that would be a three digit number. I seem to remember that it looked unforced. At the end he displays the medallion and etched (Yes, etched, not written) is the number just created. For those that know the effect you can see how having a close up of the medallion with the etched number enhanced the effect. If someone saw this please write me back to confirm what I remember. If my memory is correct I have come up with a solution that is more astounding than th effect... and knowing how Orson worked I'm probably right.
Message: Posted by: asmayly (Apr 18, 2002 09:56PM)
That must of have been the Merv Griffin show that also had on "The Three Stooges"!

(Why am I the only one laughing ...?!)

Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Apr 18, 2002 11:10PM)

I'm laughing, too! (And smiling at some good memories this thread has resurrected.)

Welles used that approach often. I am not sure if it was on the Griffen show, but I remember him tossing a bushel basket full of ping pong balls into the audience to select the volunteers. He explained that three of the balls had x's marked on them, one of which he displayed to the audience prior to tossing them out. (and then inexplicably put in his pocket!)

Whatever works..as Greg observed the effect was stunning. I was just getting into serious mentalism at the time (the late seventies) and I must admit that I was fooled as well until the basics of the ball toss force dawned on me - it was one of those things that I read somewhere and summarily disgarded- a mistake I have tried not to make since.

All that being said I must give my opinion about Welles as a mentalist- I truly believe he was one of the true geniuses of film. I agree with many that "Citizen Kane" is probably the greatest American film ever made, and that his pseudo-documentary "F for Fake" was one of the best deceptions and hoaxes every delivered with a straight face to a movie audience.

But as a mentalist I think he left much to be desired. While acting ability is essential in mentalism (and Welles had more of that than most of the top mentalists ever will), it is still necessary to hone one's skills in the methodology of mentalism to a level almost as high as the acting ability.

And Welles, I suspected, rarely practiced techniques at all and I would guess that rehearsal (of mentalism) was minimal if at all. This suspicion was pretty much confirmed when Welles wrote to me shortly after an early effect of mine ("Laboratory Conditions"- a test conditions design duplication) had received a favorable review.) He explained in his letter, which included payment for the effect, in cash along with an extra 10 bucks for "fastest shipping possible," that he need it immediately for an appearance which, I believe, was the very next week.

I will treasure that letter always, as Welles has always been one of my heroes and sources of inspiration, but I remember saying to my wife, "He'll never be able to do this right by next week."

And he never did.

Years later I asked Charlie Reynolds (the man behind the curtains of many of the greats, including Welles as a magician/mentalist) that my suspicion was on target- he hated to rehearse or practice.

Anyway, Gregg, I hope I helped out with an answer to your question. And thanks for bringing me back to "the good old days" for just a bit.

Best Regards-

Bob Cassidy
(not to be confused with that phony Rev. Dr. Bob who replaced my avatar with his and has been posting on my account at every opportunity and huckstering dubious goods.
Elsewhere in this forum he actually posted an ad for a device called "The Mentalist's Friend" and is selling it for 20 dollars over retail. I confronted him about using my computer this way. He was afraid I'd report him and get him thrown off work release. He assures me that this will not happen again. I apologize to all of you who sent him cash and tea bags. (The latter, he explained, was for his daily high tea with a certain Mr. ZigZag. I have no idea who he is talking about.)

Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Apr 19, 2002 12:39AM)
I'm glad someone has responded but no one seems to remember this specific effect. Well, over the years I've thought about what I saw... mind you, my memory could be off and it wasn't as amazing as I remember. But, if I'm right about it this is what I think happened and only Welles could have pulled something like this off. I remember him holding the medallion around his neck and then turning it around to prove that it had the number etched in the back of the medallion. To show this the camera cut to a close up. Here we go: I think he had hundreds of medallions made with all the various numbers and then got the director to shoot him holding the medallions one at a time... when time came for the show the director could hear what numbers were being called and shuttled to the proper place on the tape.When he supposedly cut to the close up he was really cutting to an inserted shot of the proper numbered medallion. Once again, I don't know if I'm remembering the way Orson presented it, but I know it bothered me for years that I was remembering a miracle until this crazy solution hit me.
So what do you guys think? Do I just need my daily dose of electroshock or could this be a solution?
Greg :realnerdy: :realnerdy:
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Apr 19, 2002 04:41AM)

Maybe I should have been more specific about the ping pong ball thing. I was, in fact, referring to it's use as a set up for the medallion effect.

I know we are not supposed to go into methodology in this part of the cafe, but what happens if none of the ping pong balls tossed into the audience actually have x's on them?

The comedy trio Asmayly referred to are simply given x'd balls before the show. Direct, simple and very effective. No need for camera cuts. (and all anyone will remember- especially those who are recalling the effect over 25 years later - anything about HOW the volunteers were selected, only that it was "random."

I do think, though, that your solution is, in some respects, a much better method in that specific television situation. I know I wouldn't have figured it out!


Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Apr 19, 2002 02:48PM)
Thank you, thank you... I now have an extra gray cell to use. That has been bugging me for the last thirty years. Wow? Has it been that long? I still feel like a college kid. Anyway, thanks for giving me the update. By the way, I love your video and really love the memory card ending. I feel it's so strong it could be done without the memory part and having on a blindfold as the process goes on. Loved a lot of your thinking on the billet switches.
My treat: :bubbly:

Message: Posted by: tboehnlein (Apr 19, 2002 03:30PM)
I recall seeing Orson on the tonight show where he tossed out 3 balls to the audience for a random selection(truly was in this case) the audience members called out three random cards of their choice which matched the open predictions he had displayed in front of him(effect at the time was marketed by zanadu) . As far as rehearsal I remember reading an article we he would have the same practices even when performing full illusion shows.
Message: Posted by: jackdd (May 6, 2002 01:08AM)
Reading the posts on Koran's Medallion effect have revived my memory of this great effect. Over the years I simply forgot how the 3 "random" numbers were obtained; now all the pieces fit and I hope to do this at our next annual affair. The simplicity is direct, straightforward and the effect just marvelous. Thanks for reviving a wonderful memory of Orson Welles and Koran's miracle. :bunny:
Message: Posted by: Thoughtreader (May 6, 2002 06:52PM)
The nicest piece available today to perform the Koran medallion effect with todate is "The Borodin Locket" available through Ted Lesley's Wonder Workshop in Europe and Stevens Magic in the United States. It is not a cheap prop but a beautifl, hand crafted piece of jewelery that can be used for the Koran Medallion effect to name a few. (Tell them I sent you.) You won't be sorry for getting one if you like top quality, good looking props.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Jul 30, 2002 11:09AM)
If you haven't seen the Richard Mark book, his version of the Koran Medallion has no numbers forced, as in the original Koran handling, yet allows a fair display at the end.
Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Jul 30, 2002 11:09AM)
I am, of course, talking about Mind Warp again.
Message: Posted by: Sid Mayer (Aug 28, 2002 08:58PM)
I saw Al Koran perform his Medallion years ago. It blew me away until I thought long and hard. There was no force. The key to it was his repeated use of a word which, thanks to his great showmanship, the audience (myself included) accepted as meaning the obvious.

Message: Posted by: The Pianoman (Aug 29, 2002 06:56AM)
The Medallion effect as it appears in Hugh Millers book (Al Korans Legacy) uses no force what so ever, any three numbers can be called out by the audience.
Simple clean and very magical, the use of the word is very clever and hopefully only one audience member will see the "Medallion, Large Coin, etc" up close and can verify the inscription matches the unforced, called out numbers.

Regards Alan

PS I am selling my original, picture cover copy of Al Korans Legacy by Hugh Miller if anyone is interested in a great book with lots of great routines and plenty "make at home" gimmicks that have uses in many different fields of magic.