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Topic: Harry Blackstone Junior
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Jun 22, 2004 04:10PM)
I saw Harry in 1986 at Expo 86 in Vancouver.

I remember 2 things ..1 was helping him on stage during the famous "card trick" bit where he gets 10 guys on stage and tried to do a card trick, but it becomes a comedy pick pocket routine.

I also remember it was a pitifully small audience, and Harry was going to do a backstage with the magician routine. Gayes line was "Harry you can't show people how it's done"

His reply.."There's not enough people here to make a difference!"
Message: Posted by: David Todd (Jun 22, 2004 10:51PM)
Thanks for the memory , Neale.

I miss Harry Blackstone . Seems to me that he was taken much too soon . He ought to be one of our elder Statesmen, showing up at Abbott's Get-Togethers and other conventions well into his late 90's .
Message: Posted by: Tom James (Jun 22, 2004 10:58PM)
I remember Blackstone Jr.. When I was a kid the first magic set I ever got was a Blackstone Jr. set. I loved it to bad I do not have it any more. It would be a great start up kit for my son. The Blackstone family was so infulical in magic I do not know where we would be with out them both. I can not wait to meet Gaye next week at the IBM convention, just so I can thank her for what her husband and father in law did for me as a young magician.

Keep the Magic ALIVE

Tom James
Message: Posted by: Tony Chapparo (Jun 23, 2004 09:49PM)
I was lucky enough to see Blackstone Jr. when I was about 11 yrs. old.

To this day it is one of the best magic shows I have ever seen... also one of my fondest memories from childhood.

I still have the ticket stub and the original program. Ahhh... memories!
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Jun 24, 2004 01:06AM)
I saw Blackstone Sr., 12 times and he was incredible... I went onstage and slipped him my watch (to save him picking it) and when I did he said, "You again? Thanks."

I got the chance to take some nifty photos of him too.

Another guy that was a RIOT in vaudeville's last days, was Dai Vernon's sillouette cutting budy and comedy magician, Larry Gray... I never laughed so hard (until Ballantine came along).
Message: Posted by: MarkTripp (Jun 26, 2004 02:17PM)
I ran into Harry and Gay many times over the years as our tours crossed.

I think I had my shirt pulled more times than anyone by him.

He is greatly missed....
Message: Posted by: Rob Johnston (Jun 29, 2004 02:14PM)


Father and Son. Here are their graves.
Message: Posted by: 007mystic (Jun 29, 2004 03:09PM)
I fondly remember playing cards at the legion during Abbotts with Harry Jr And Gay. They are both very good people.
Message: Posted by: Avrakdavra (Jul 1, 2004 07:38AM)
I had the pleasure of watching HB,Jr. perform at an event at Swarthmore College. His style was amazingly playful, laid back, almost impromptu-- was this typical, or did it reflect the fact that he was among old friends and fellow alumni?
Message: Posted by: Tony S (Jul 2, 2004 08:57AM)
I saw Mr. Blackstone perform on several occasions, my favorite being at the Westbury Music Fair on Long Island. I had the good fortune to meet him after his show and he was very gracious and spent some time talking to me and a few other people. He was a true gentleman and a wonderful performer.

Does anyone know Mr. Blackstone's cause of death?
Message: Posted by: Avrakdavra (Jul 2, 2004 10:30AM)
According to the website that Astinus linked to above, HB,Jr. died from pancreatic cancer.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 3, 2004 04:21PM)
My uncle, Kurt Brokaw, a very fine NYC magician once worked for an advertising agency that hired Harry Jr. to do magic for a "Vanish" bowl cleaner commercial. I was sent a copy of the original story board when I was a kid. It, and mention that I was a magician was all I needed to get a backstage invitation from Harry and Gay, two very delightful and friendly people.
Message: Posted by: Marshall Thornside (Jul 9, 2004 11:21AM)
One year before he passed away we did a trade.

Approximate a year or prior my dad and I found
a piece of sheet music with the broadway poster
for the song "oriental fantasy". We bought it
right away. Found out it was used in broadway
themed concert at Lincoln Center.

The following summer when we went to Abbots for
the last time since, we saw Harry and fam. He
was very sentimental over seeing dad, as my
father has known since he was boy. He hugged dad,
caught us by suprised. Anyway I told him about the
music and he aksed if I could find it again.

It was harder this time around because the music
had been out-of-print. But I did find a copy. Probably
the very last one I guess. In turn he sent me
an a broadway poster signed.

"Uncle" Harry

A year and 4 months later he passed away.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jul 9, 2004 05:32PM)
Harry, Jr. was a friend of mine. We worked together at Magic Island in Houston, when it first opened. I opened for him at the Music Hall in Houston in 1976 when he appeared here for the TAOM, and I met his son, HB III that year, as well.

He was a real gentleman and a fine fellow, to boot.
Message: Posted by: Brent W (Jul 14, 2004 08:13AM)
I too got my start in magic with one of the Blackstone magic sets.I bought another one a few years ago at an auction. I got the chance to see Harry Jr live several times and will never forget sitting in the first table seeing his dinner show on a small stage in Ohio and the floating bulb crashing to the ground...I still have a piece of the glass.
One of the greatest magicians of this century.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Jul 14, 2004 07:07PM)
Brett, I was there at Tangiers the night the bulb went down. It was not one of the most memorable moments for me being backstage. But Harry talked his way out of it and finished the show strong as only he could.
Message: Posted by: rtgreen (Jul 14, 2004 07:37PM)
I'd like to know what he said. He handled audiences so well, I'm sure he did something special.
Message: Posted by: Brent W (Jul 19, 2004 07:34AM)
I can remember Gay taking a step and covering the "secret" with her foot.

Posted: Jul 19, 2004 8:35am
Tangier's was the place Richard. I think Harry said something about his concentration being lost...he covered it like the pro that he was.
Message: Posted by: espresto (Jan 11, 2005 08:43PM)
I was lucky to see Blackstone, Jr. perform in Washington, D.C. in 1980. The Dancing Hanky and the Floating Lightbulb were the two effects I remember to this day. In 1984 I bumped into him at a 7-11 store in West Los Angles. He was wearing a tuxedo and can only assume he had just fininshed a peformance. We actually had a small chat and was very gracious indeed.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Jan 12, 2005 08:54PM)
That night at Tangiers he did not have the normal assistant helping him. the bulb failed not once but twice on a Saturday night with a house full of magicians. He still gave a hell of a show.

The second time he could not do it ( second show), he said something like "ladies and gentleman we were going to do our piece de la resistance at this point but there seems to be some problem with the voltage. We need DC and apparantly this is AC. So if we can get a few gentlmen up on the stage to help I will show you something really special." With that he went into committee (Rope Tie) and closed the show strong.

Working with Harry was always an adventure. He could adlib and think so fast that you just never knew what he was going to say or where he might be going with something. He taught me a lot about be a pro and I miss him greatly.
Message: Posted by: foolsnobody (Jan 13, 2005 12:48AM)
I saw Blackstone senior. It was my first "date." (Third grade). I got called up on stage and took home a rabbit which my mother promptly gave away. That cost me years of psychoanalysis later. But who cares? The show was great. I never did see Blackstone Jr.
Message: Posted by: Matt Graves (Jan 13, 2005 07:12AM)
I would have loved to have seen either one of them. I did see Blackstone Jr. on TV one time, but it was late at night and I had to go to bed before I saw much of it. He was about to saw a woman in half, but he was making more of a comedy routine out of it. I've heard of some of Blackstone Sr.'s tricks - floating a glass of milk, the vanishing birdcage (which he got tons of kids up on stage to help with, I think), and producing a live goat from under a shawl. Also the dancing handkerchief - I'd love to see that, if it was ever caught on film. Barrows Mussey described him as a "smaller" big illusionist. From what I'm reading, it sounds like his son was the same way, had that impromptu feel to everything.
Message: Posted by: donsmagic (Jan 13, 2005 09:25AM)
I remember seeing Harry Jr. at Abbott's in 1971. That is the first time I ever saw the Zig Zag Illusion. It completely blew me away.
Message: Posted by: cigar808 (Feb 6, 2005 11:43PM)
I was lucky enough to meet Harry Blackstone Jr.
while working at "The Magic Shop" in Denver.
Was around 1975.
He was very nice to us all.
Levitated his wife Gaye outside the shop.
Right on Colfax ave.!!!
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Feb 11, 2005 05:49PM)
One of my favorite stories about Harry concerns an incident that happened during a show, just a couple of weeks before he passed away. He was performing the floating light bulb, and had gone out into the audience with it, when he collapsed. One of his assistants rushed out, removed his jacket, folded it, and placed it under Harry's head. He asked, "Are you comfortable, Mr. Blackstone?"

Harry replied, "I'm making a living!"
Message: Posted by: jlevey (Feb 12, 2005 10:14PM)
I have a vague recollection of sitting in th audience and watching a "great" magician on stage pull a rabbit out of a hat. For some reason I have the impression that it might have been either Blackstone senior or junior.

This was in 1964, at one of the pavillions at the New York World's Fair.
I was about eight years old at the time. I believe the show had just begun, and a rabbit was produced, then theatre grew very dark. Unfortunately, that's when my little brother started to cy and my father rushed us down the aisle and out of the theatre.

Might anyone have an idea or recollection of what magician(s) was(were) employed by the World's Fair that year (1964)?

Many thanks.
Message: Posted by: Kevin Connolly (Feb 12, 2005 10:49PM)
Mark Wilson was one to work there. I think it was the White Owl Pavillion.
Message: Posted by: jlevey (Feb 13, 2005 03:00PM)
On 2005-02-12 23:49, Kevin Connolly wrote:
Mark Wilson was one to work there. I think it was the White Owl Pavillion.

Thanks for your suggestion Kevin.

Was Mark Wilson the sole magician at the 1964 World's Fair? I believe that Mark's t.v. show was being aired in those days, and if his was the show I saw at the Fair, then I believe I would have made the connection. I seem to recall a magician with a much more mysterious and larger than life persona than Mark's. Someone similar to one of the Blackstones. However, I could be mistaken.

Any other suggestions as to what other magicians might have "played" the World's Fair in 1964?
Message: Posted by: damien666 (Feb 13, 2005 05:09PM)
I saw Harry Blackstone Jr at Abbott's in 1992. I got to meet him and gave him a poem that me and my father had written about him and Blackstone Sr. He read it and autographed a copy of it for me and also asked me to autograph his copy for him. He was very kind and approachable. Seeing him live and meeting him was one of the greatest moments in my magic life. He is certainly missed.
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (Feb 13, 2005 05:48PM)
Not ever seeing the first Blackstone except on film or video. I was very lucky to have seen Harry Blackstone Jr's full show at least once every time it came to Chicago. I have seen Andre Kole, Doug Henning, David Coperfield and others.

But the Blackstone show was the show that I liked the best.

When the others tried to have the next latest illusion in magic or the new headline illusion for each season.

The classics of magic was performed in the Blackstone show. In other words Harry was modern but the show was very old school and was backed up by entertainment. Not the over produced flash magic that many illusionists use today.

For me watching this show was a treat and real magic history and entertainment all at the same time. The costumes, illusions the color and the music. It is to bad because they don't do shows like that anymore.

I think that if a magician loves magic they miss - Blackstone!
Message: Posted by: Crispy (Feb 14, 2005 12:17AM)
I saw Blackstone in the early 90's perform at the Kentucky State Fair. They had an outdoor stage set-up (the same one they use for concerts) and he performed a very long show. I was captivated from beginning to end and the audience was huge. The one thing I remember about his show is that it included something I doubt I'll ever see in another magic shows. The music was provided by a live orchestra. I again saw him perform not long before his death when the Palace theatre was restore here in Louisville. I think his passing brought an end to a magical era.

Message: Posted by: JL608 (Feb 19, 2005 11:38AM)
I had the pleasure of working Harry Jr's show a few years before his death. Having the privilege of watching the Floating Lightbulb from backstage was very cool. Hard to imagine while you're watching that it could fool anyone!

After the show Harry agreed to a lecture for our local IBM Ring. While he could've easily dismissed it or slapped together something lame, he took the time to present a really informative slide show of his (and his father's) life in magic, and a lengthy question and answer session.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Feb 19, 2005 10:43PM)
I agree (having worked backstage many times). The light bulb, rabbit routine, and other things seemed so simple in the hands of a master. Many of the things Harry did, as did his dad, were the essence of simplicity. That is the one great lesson I learned from him. Keep it simple and just do it. No fancy tech or moves. Just do it. But it was entertaining always.

I loved the Duck routine but few people ever saw it.

He is missed.
Message: Posted by: SHOC (Feb 26, 2005 12:41PM)
I will always remember Harry for his speaking voice.
Message: Posted by: Rick Fisher (Feb 27, 2005 10:44AM)
To me...Harry was the epitome of what a magician should be - on and off stage. His personna was such that when he stepped onto that stage you knew you were in the prescence of a real magician and you knew you were going to have a good time. He took each and every audience and put them in the palm of his hand. You like Harry because he was having fun and it was contagious to the entire audience. I have not seen another (maybe never will) an entertainer like Harry B. We miss him and for for what he stood for - Don't get me wrong. Lance,David & Blaine are all great magicians but Harry had the whole package and that is hard to find.
Message: Posted by: Ed Hutchison (Mar 1, 2005 11:29PM)
Like Glenn, I have seen 'em all, but, for my money, Harry, Jr. was in a class by himself. He had just the right mixture of comedy and mystery and always looked, spoke, and entertained in a way that shouted "magic."

Ed Hutchison
Message: Posted by: CARNEGIE (Mar 4, 2005 07:13PM)
Harry Jr. was the first big time magician I saw live. I sat in the second row at the Warner Theater in Washington DC and there was an orchestra. I can actually remember most of the show even to this day. I was mezmerized. Luckily whenever Harry Jr. would come to town, I'd see the show. I saw it again at the Warner Theater. I saw it at Wolf Trap which was interesting. The Wolf Trap theater had burnt down a few months earlier and a large tent had been constructed nearby. Harry was the first person to perform in the tent. Great Show. I'm not sure how many times over the years I saw his act but it was always a wonderful experience. I never got to meet the man, although I did ride in an elevator with him and sat behind him at a Magic Convention. He had a following with him and it was hard to break through.

I was on my way to Mexico to perform and I picked up the USA today and saw that Harry had passed away. When I arrived in Mexico, all my fellow magicians were distraught, having learned the day before of his passing.

There is a DVD out called Grand Illusions-The Story of Magic Part 2. There is an excellent documentary on the Blackstones, Sr. & Jr.. I still get chocked up watching it. There will never be another like him.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Mar 16, 2005 05:51PM)
I only met Jr. a couple of times. The first time was when we both answered the same page for a phone call. (we're related and have the same "real" last name). Wonderful guy and magician. He had a style truly his own, I often wondered why he performed under the name of Blackstone, Jr., as I felt he was a very talented magician in his own right, totally separate from his dad's reputation. His radio TV experience gave him a wonder stage presense. He could command the stage. He handled himself on talk shows better than most magicians. One of the last really big traveling illusion shows. Plus, he kept some of his dad's signature tricks alive and well in a medium that is quick to discard and forget (for a while at least). A much underated performer and magician for the talent and skill he actually possessed.
Message: Posted by: Wizardwannabe (Mar 22, 2005 08:32PM)
You know how PBS often has fund drives during which they broadcast a special of some type? Here in the Seattle area they've lately been showing the George Harrison memorial concert and a documentary about a man building a cabin in Alaska. Anyway, I remember years ago they aired the Blackstone show during the fund drive. The show was on tape, of course, but during breaks Harry Jr. would appear live in the studio encouraging viewers to call in with their pledges. At
one point he performed a cups & balls routine for the host thereby demonstrating that he had the chops to do sleight of hand as well. Gay Blackstone also talked a bit about the history and philosophy of magic.
Message: Posted by: mikefallen (Apr 9, 2013 08:54PM)
I heard that john calvert`s casper routine, gave harry jr. some tips for his floating lightbulb...! Always good to remember such a magician
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Apr 10, 2013 08:01AM)
I can't think of anything in the Casper routine that is applicable to the floating light bulb routine though both are great routines in their own right.

Message: Posted by: Rainboguy (Apr 11, 2013 08:19PM)
Blackstone Sr. and Jr.'s presentation of the Floating Lightbulb was a MAGNIFICENT moment of Pure Wonder and Astonishment.....it "did Magic Proud"...and was in a league of its own, as a "Trademark" of The Blackstone Act.

That piece, along with the Cassedega Cabinet and Handkerchief, Vanishing Birdcage (with all the kids onstage), and "Rabbit in Newspaper as a Gift to Child From Audience" are, in my opinion, MASTERPIECES OF MODERN AMERICAN MAGIC.......

Not to mention that Harry Jr. was one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet.....he is deeply missed.
Message: Posted by: aceofillusions (Jun 1, 2015 12:28PM)
He was an amazing performer for sure. Any Blackstone enthusiast out there want to give me some feedback on this article I wrote about him? http://aceofillusions.com/Blog/2015/04/Who-Is-Harry-Blackstone-Jr-Master-Magician
Message: Posted by: mtpascoe (Jun 2, 2015 03:22AM)
I first saw Blackstone Jr. during the filming to the Houdini Séance at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles starring William Shatner. He looked big at the time.

I later worked with his daughter at Magic Mountain for the Bugs Bunny Magical World of Kids.

Then years later I saw him again at the Sahara in Vegas before he died. He looked much smaller to me. I me, not just thinner, but shorter. When I saw him at the Orpheum for the Houdini special, he looked taller.

An interesting thing happened during that show. Some man stood up during the show and yelled something out that no one could hear. Everyone thought it was a heckler. He persisted until he actually stopped the show. He yelled out at Harry and said, “Mr. Blackstone. You sir are the finest magician I have ever seen.”

What could be said after that? Harry didn’t know what to do as there was an awkward pause. But, being that he was dying of cancer then, I am sure it was something that made him feel good. My wife agreed with this man. Now she is not much a magic fan, but loved Blackstone. Go figure.

Anyway, that was a great memory as he is certainly one of the greats during that area of the second golden age of magic.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jun 9, 2015 06:10AM)
Harry Jr. "opened" for ME!

Now that I have your attention! I'll tell the story.

Jack and Anne Gwynne are buried in the Colon cemetery. They had been giants in vaudeville and night clubs in the early days. Their grave marker, in Karrell Fox's words, was, "a brick!". (It WAS small and, certainly not very imposing.) Karrell got a bunch of us together,and proposed a midnight benefit show to raise funds to purchase a suitable headstone. Most of us had known Anne, and some had known Jack. We agreed. Karrell said, "There's a dozen of us. If we all do 5 minutes, we'll have an hour show. We'll ask $5.00 admission,and that should buy a nice marker. Abb Dickson will get us a good price.

Now, it's "show time". Harry Jr. was one of our group. Harry said, "I need to open because Gay and I are invited to a late party." I think we "drew numbers", and I got the deuce spot. Harry opened with the Cords of Fantasia. I did about three minutes with the Pom Pon Stick' Jerry Conklin may have followed me, I don't remember for sure. Anyway, after that, I would refer to Harry as "my opening act"! hee hee!

Re: the light bulb and the handkerchief. Artie Kidwell worked the sound at the Get Together for years. I was playing the area around Cincinnati, and visited Artie. On the living room wall were two picture frames, each had a "mouse nest" of the "motive force" for the bulb and hanky. I, of course, had been backstage over the years and recognized souvenirs of Harry's show. We had a nice laugh about them.

Someone above mentioned Harry doing the big show in Minneapolis, and seeing it later on tape for a PBS fund raising promo. Harry did the duck bucket, and he came down to the front row, and had a man stand, and look inside the bucket. Harry said, "Look into the bucket! You can see YOURSELF! The bucket is empty! I fell on the floor, laughing!

In the early '90s, I was on the road for Jack West's National School Assemblies, and was spending a weekend in Sacramento, visiting Jim Jayes, Dale Lorzo ("Ronald") and Mary Mowder & Tom, et al. Harry Jr. was doing a concert tour, and was set to play Sacramento. We went. Harry and Gay, plus a girl to box jump, two boys to push the boxes, and two young fellows in the pit to provide live music, was a nice sized unit. Harry did the girl thru the glass, I think, zig zag, and the little sawing. plus all the "personality pieces" (bulb, hanky, sands of the desert, cords of fantasia, bird cage, the committee, etc. I had seen the "BIG show", and, often at Abbott's, 30 minute "pieces". He always did a fine job, but, this night, he did the best I had ever seen him do! It was glorious!

We went out in the lobby and stood near the "BOR" joint, to visit when he had gotten out of wardrobe. Gay came out, dressed in a jump suit, and started packing the tee shirts, program books, etc. I said,"Hi Gay! Show BUSINESS, eh!" She said, "Dick, with THIS show we're making money!" We both laughed. The New York "run" was great for the press book, but it was an expensive show to stage. Harry came out and we hugged. It was the last time that I saw him.

I wrote up in my book, a funny story about Harry doing the Zig Zag in the kitehen of Abb Dickson's motor home in Colon. It was Doug Henning's Zig Zag, that Abb was delivering to Bob Lund. Doug's blades wouldn't "fit". We found a set of blades in the back room at Abbott's. It was in the show that night!

When Harry died, "we" had a memorial service at the Get Together. Gay had tapes of the Light Bulb. She needed to dub the tape for the service. I had the ONLY facility to dub. Charlie Reynolds and Gay came over to my RV, and we spent a couple hours reminiscing and putting together the memorial.
Message: Posted by: mtpascoe (Jun 9, 2015 10:52AM)
Great story Dick.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jun 10, 2015 06:51PM)
I would like to say a few words about Harry Jr.

While Jr. was growing up, his father was on the road with "Blackstone's Show of 1001 Wonders". Jr. saw the dress rehearsal in the Colon Opera House, and waved goodbye when the train pulled out of Colon for the opening date. Perhaps at Christmas time, Jr. visited his dad on the road. About high school age, he was enrolled in a Military School in Northern Indiana. Later, he could spend some time on the road, with dad' show.

Harry Sr. was often called the "Ziegfield" of magic. He understood how to frame a show that had flash, drama, comedy, with pretty girls to add sex appeal. True, it was not the "currently popular" style of presenting "big boxes", but, it was great in its time.

The dealers always "knew" where Harry Sr. had just played a week! They knew by the orders for Clippo, Six Card Repeat,etc. (They were "dollar tricks" that young magician wannabees could afford, and DO._

Harry Jr. had opportunity to learn all the fine details of producing an entertaining show. And, he learned especially well, the fine points of PRESENTATION of tricks like the candy box and rabbit. the wrist tie, the cage, bulb and handkerchief, clippo, six card repeat,and the "red rag". His dad was his teacher, and Jr. was a good learner.

In short, Jr. was in a sense,the "luckiest kid". His father was a MAGICIAN!

In the last few years that Sr.'s show was on the road, he was a tired, ill, old man. The war (WWII)had ended, Television was the "new" theater. It was harder to fill the seats. In April, 1950, Sr., with health failing, closed the show and "took it back to the barn" in Colon. Harry Jr. got "involved" in TV. Then, a few years later, an opportunity arose, and Jr. reframed his dad's show.

I saw one of his early performances at an Abbott Get Together. It was great to see those production numbers again! At first, the big stuff was so strong that the "in one" tricks, seemed a little weak. Harry booked the Playboy Clubs, and, polished what he had learned from the old man. When he came back to Abbott's, he was still billed as "Blackstone JR.", but he was now, BLACKSTONE!
Message: Posted by: jakeg (Jun 13, 2015 09:27AM)
I saw Harry Jr at the Holiday House night club in Pittsburgh. Small audience, great show, but ...... The lighting was so bad, that the shadow of the floating light bulb threads were clearly visible in the shadow that the were cast on the club wall.
He had nothing short of a great stage personality.
Message: Posted by: Spongedude (Jul 5, 2015 09:49AM)
I got to see Blackstone Jr. a couple of times and had a playing card signed. I remember a younger child running after meeting him and falling down and Harry was the first one over to help the young child up. Wish all magicians could be as kind and careing as him.
Message: Posted by: intervalmagic (Aug 21, 2015 05:12AM)
I was lucky enough to have a semi-personal meeting with Harry in 1981 when he was in town for his performances at the Holiday House in Monroeville, PA (Pittsburgh). He was filming a television commercial during his visit, and my father was the still photographer that day! A couple years ago I posted my memories of this and the Holiday House performance on my blog. Check it out if you have time because you might find it interesting: [url]https://intervalmagic.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/harry-blackstone-jr-born-79-years-ago-today/[/url]
Message: Posted by: David Todd (Aug 25, 2015 06:50PM)
[quote]On Aug 21, 2015, intervalmagic wrote:
I was lucky enough to have a semi-personal meeting with Harry in 1981 when he was in town for his performances at the Holiday House in Monroeville, PA (Pittsburgh). He was filming a television commercial during his visit, and my father was the still photographer that day! A couple years ago I posted my memories of this and the Holiday House performance on my blog. Check it out if you have time because you might find it interesting: [url]https://intervalmagic.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/harry-blackstone-jr-born-79-years-ago-today/[/url] [/quote]

Thanks. I enjoyed reading that.

Message: Posted by: Jerskin (Oct 22, 2015 04:51PM)
I was fortunate to have done several gigs with Harry, Jr as well as seeing his full evening show in Detroit in the 1970s.
The floating light bulb looked great in the Palace of Mystery at the Magic Castle (it's a small theater, around 125 seats)
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 23, 2015 11:33AM)
It was about 30 years ago, at an Abbott GTG. We had just had breakfast at the M&M Café. Harry Jr., Karrell Fox, Jay Marshall, and I were standing in front of the M&M. Also, just outside were a half dozen teenage magicians. One young lad, looked up and asked, "Mr. Blackstone! What tricks have you invented?"

Harry smiled and replied, "None!" The group looked surprised. Harry continued, "You must realize that I am an ACTOR, a PERFORMER. I'm not a PLAYWRIGHT! I don't invent tricks, I perform them." The boys looked a bit surprised. I've long since wondered if they later realized what Harry had said to them!
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Oct 23, 2015 07:56PM)
your are right about the dealers knowing where HB Sr. performed....Horace Marshall could follow the flower orders as he played. Senior often told Horace that "you were just a barefoot boy when I met you, now you can afford to buy shoes. "

Message: Posted by: Anatole (Oct 26, 2015 03:23PM)
Speaking of "The Floating Lightbulb"...
I remember reading in the English edition of Ottokar Foscher's _Illustrated Magic_ that Blackstone Sr. used to do a "Floating Glass of Milk." I did some searching on askAlexander and found an ad for "The f=Floating Glass of Milk" in the November 1930 issue of _The Sphinx_. I posted a screen grab of the ad on the
IBM Ring 103 Norfolk
community page:

As I mentioned in the comments on that facebook page, "The Floating Glass of Milk" sold for the bargain price of $1.00 back in 1930, with a master version selling for $5.00

I'm curious as to whether any of the readers of this thread ever saw Blackstone Sr perform "The Floating Glass of Milk" and how that routine compared with "The Floating Light Bulb" or "The Dancing Handkerchief."

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
Message: Posted by: JNeal (Oct 29, 2015 11:06PM)
Re: the Floating Glass of Milk...well, one thing is pretty certain... unlike the lightbulb... he didn't send it 'soaring off over the audience's heads'!
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Oct 31, 2015 07:21AM)
Horace Marshall told me about the floating glass of milk but I never saw it. Horace later sold it.
Message: Posted by: MJE (Nov 10, 2015 09:35AM)
Junior, like Senior, actually liked us. He enjoyed hanging with magicians.

I once attended a show where one of the three guys I was with was asked to be the guy who gets his shirt stolen. Naturally, he readily agreed. Oddly, Blackstone was unaware of this dude's standing as a magician.

After the show, Blackstone was sitting in the theater with us....just chatting. He did mention that if he knew this fellow was a local magic guy, he never would have asked. But, it all worked out, bad acting and all.
Message: Posted by: jlevey (Feb 9, 2016 08:43PM)
Can anyone confirm that Blackstone Sr. actually performed at the New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York (circa 1964/65)? I retain a vivid memory as an eight year old enthused boy, witnessing the performance of a very tall magician in a formal suit, inside a blackened out theatre located n one of the World Fair's pavilions. And at the end he did, in fact, gift his volunteer with a live rabbit. Lucky kid! ;)
Message: Posted by: MJE (Feb 9, 2016 10:48PM)
[quote]On Feb 9, 2016, jlevey wrote:
Can anyone confirm that Blackstone Sr. actually performed at the New York World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York (circa 1964/65)? I retain a vivid memory as an eight year old enthused boy, witnessing the performance of a very tall magician in a formal suit, inside a blackened out theatre located n one of the World Fair's pavilions. And at the end he did, in fact, gift his volunteer with a live rabbit. Lucky kid! ;) [/quote]

I can't give a definite, but I do remember seeing at least one magician there. Although I had nothing but a passing interest in magic at the time, I have a feeling it was Mark Wilson. Photos and video I saw of him years later reminded me of the magician I saw. It must have been '65, as the Beatles were playing across the street at Shea the day I saw that mystery magician.
Message: Posted by: jlevey (Feb 9, 2016 11:32PM)
Yes. I have heard that Mark Wilson did one of the shows there. But it was not Mark. Almost positive it was Blackstone Sr. , but not conclusively. :(
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Feb 10, 2016 01:54AM)
When I saw THAT show in the summer 0f '64, James RANDI was doing it. IIRC, Mark Wilson had produced the show, and various magicians performed it. I vaguely seem to remember that the voice was on tape, and, Randi "moved his lips", like the old record pantomime acts. Harry Jr. about that time, was just "starting", and may well have done a "week or two".
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Feb 11, 2016 09:32PM)
I doubt if Sr. was performing them. He was well up in years and had not performed much. He did come to Abbott's in 1964, I believe. I think he died in 1965. I am writing off the top of my head with dates right now. But still pretty sure he did perform in New York.

Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Feb 11, 2016 10:00PM)
I'd agree with Richard. Uncle Harry was not in good health at all at that time. He did not perform at the World's Fair then. Mark Wilson did have a show sponsored by the American Tobacco Co and White Owl Cigars. Mark still sells a video of that show.
Message: Posted by: msillusions (Feb 23, 2016 05:14PM)
Harry Jr was the first true professional I saw perform live while in Junior High school. And the Lightbulb was absolutely Magnificent. When it flew out over the audience, my eyes bulged and my chin dropped. That is what I wish all my audiences experience! Then after the show he signed my autograph book, "Keep the Secrets!" and was so encouraging. While performing at Six Flags Magic Mountain, his daughter Cynthia was my stage manager, and Harry came to see our show. I have never been more nervous. Had to keep telling myself, just do the same show you always do. He was so kind. And as others have said- that voice. He is missed.
Message: Posted by: Dapperdan (Apr 18, 2016 01:22PM)
What a great thread!... I'm really glad I happened upon it!

Dick and others... your first hand stories of HBJr are great! I was a Abbott's Get Together regular back in the early 80s and hearing the names of Harry Blackstone, Karrell Fox, Ab Dickson, and others brings back great memories! Harry seemed to attend the get together every other year or so, and I always looked forward to the years when he'd be there. Best part was that the part of the week that he wasn't performing, he'd be visiting around town and sitting in the audience with the rest of us for the evening shows. (One year, I remember, he and Gay were right in the seats in front of me. Even though he was acting as "one of us", it felt like being around royalty!

I miss his deep, booming voice. What was it he'd say to introduce one of his marquee piece (I forget if it was the lightbulb or (perhaps) the buzz sawing Gay in half - Something like "... you'll remember as long as you shall live..." (that's not it, though).
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Apr 18, 2016 08:41PM)
It was the lightbulb...."Here is something you will remember the longest day you live".......he was right.
Message: Posted by: Dapperdan (Apr 18, 2016 10:06PM)
[quote]On Apr 18, 2016, hugmagic wrote:
It was the lightbulb...."Here is something you will remember the longest day you live".......he was right. [/quote]
That's it!! Thank you! :)
Yes... He WAS right!
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Apr 19, 2016 08:25AM)
Harry Jr.'s father always did the "DUCKS" (the "TUB", and the "DUCK INN") which was mentioned earlier in this thread. I don't remember Harry Jr. ever doing it. Someday when I have time, I'll write up a "story" about Nick Ruggiero, and the Duck Inn!
Message: Posted by: danaruns (May 10, 2016 04:32PM)
In the early 1980s I was a musician. I got a gig playing for Harry, Jr. (he was using a live orchestra) at the La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts in L.A. From the orchestra pit, I could see some of the secrets. (I could also see Gay doing all the hard work while Harry stood out front and was showered with applause, but that's a different issue familiar to female magicians. ;) ) Doing that gig is what kindled my passion for performing magic. I never told him I wanted to perform magic, and that he inspired me. But he did.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (May 11, 2016 08:41PM)
Jr. did the Ducks in the Pre-Broadway show. I have probably the only film of him doing the routine.

I just did a talk with Adele Friel Rhindress at the Battle of Magicians in Canton, Ohio. The Duck's Inn was one of the topics we touched on. Nick's part was very important to the success of the routine.

Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (May 12, 2016 02:17AM)
Nick Ruggiero and I discussed the DUCK INN, some years ago. I saw the Blackstone Sr. show, that last season, and, as Richard has noted just above, Nick had a "subtle" (???!!!) but "importantrole" to play!

I will try t0 block out some time, this week, to tell the story, of the DUCK INN, which Nick told me. [WATCH THIS SPACE!]
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (May 12, 2016 08:52AM)
November 1945...I was 13, almost 14, and, just starting to perform. My parents drove to Milwaukee, an "all day" drive, then! They took me along! Harry Blackstone, pere, was appearing at the Davidson theater. My father talked with the theater manager. I was invited backstage to meet "Mr. B" before the matinee!

Blackstone was most courteous, and visited for a few minutes. I was thrilled! I had seen Stanley (Susan) my first magician about 7 years before. Sometime in 1940, KEYSTONE (Clifford Withdrow) had performed at a church in Escanaba. I had seen his evening show. Harold Sterling had appeared at my school in the early '40s, but, my teacher, a strict old nun would not allow me to meet him. Now, I was to see the last of the big illusion shows!

70 years later, having seen, perhaps a thousand magicians, I can still "see" that show! (In the five years that followed, I saw that show, seven times!) The first time I saw the "DUCKS", I was baffled beyond belief!

An old fashioned wooden laundry tub was spotted center stage. Ten water pails, each decorated with one letter of Harry's surname: B L A C K S T O N E ! were spread out in a neat row, on stage. One at a time, the buckets were emptied into the tub, which an assistant had shown empty. Blackstone pointed at the tub, and about a dozen ducks scrambled, dripping wet, from the tub. This was ten times "better" than one rabbit from one hat! The audience, me too, screamed with laughter.

The assistants "guided" !!! the ducks into the "Duck Inn". It looked a bit like a little girl's doll house, about three feet tall, and, perhaps four feet square. Blackstone clapped his hands, and the doll house was folded into a flat pile of lumber. Those ducks had disappeared. From the flies, what looked like an old wooden barrel, was lowered on a spot line. I could see right through it when the assistants tilted it. The barrel was flown to about 8' above the floor. It hung vertically. The assistants spread a blanket sized cloth under the barrel, like a firemen's "rescue" blanket, and, the ducks fell, quacking, from the barrel. The whole routine couldn't have lasted five minutes. It had been fast, funny, and, it sure fooled me!

The most amazing part of the routine was that VANISH OF A DOZEN LIVE DUCKS FROM THE "DUCK INN" WHICH WAS NOW A FLAT PILE OF PLYWOOD! In the next several years, I was to learn that a lot of magicians, NOT just me, had been fooled by the DUCK INN!

In the next five years, I saw it at least six more times. About the third or fourth time, I was able to "catch" it. ABSOLUTE SIMPLICITY! plus, "gutsy" misdirection by the assistant(s). It took my seeing it several times to realize that the misdirection was different, each season! It was GREAT stagecraft!

Nick Ruggiero, and Dick Berry were assistants for that final season of the "1001 Wonders" show. I don't remember how, but, we were about the same age (18/19)and I met them. It was a non matinee day, and we went to their hotel room (The Belmont Hotel) and spent several hours "jackpotting" about our magic experiences. Then, we went to the theater, put Blackstone's burro on a leash and took the beast, decorated with a "blanket" with the words: "Blackstone's Senora" on it. We walked around downtown Milwaukee, and got chuckles from pedestrians! (and, free advertising for the show!)

I didn't see Nick again for about thirty years. We met at a convention. I reminded him of our burro walking. That's when he told me about his part in the DUCK INN. I had seen in those late '40s years, various misdirection "methods", including "Nick's big bit" in that last season. Nick then told me the backstage "story" of his "part".

The DUCK INN was spotted downstage right, about three or four feet from the wings. The INN was just a "shell" of plywood. The ducks had to "exit, stage right", and, this needed MISDIRECTION! As I've mentioned, the misdirection was different each season.

That final season, Nick was "it". He was about 19, and athletic. When the ducks were safely inside the iNN. Nick would enter from upstage left, apparently slip, and do a "prat fall", actually a full body fall. Attention was on Nick! The ducks were "sneaked off" downstage right at the same moment. If you kept your eyes on the INN, you SAW them go! They were actually in a wooden "tunnel" inside the INN and, the tunnel was DRAGGED off stage by a rope, and a husky offstage assistant!

Nick told me that he had a small carpet on the floor where he made his "spectacular" entrance. He could put one foot on the carpet. It would skid, and, he could do a spectacular fall, landing on his shoulders. He needed that carpet to skid, to make the fall. The other assistants, to relieve boredom would often play little jokes on each other. The third or fourth week on the road, he started to enter and put a foot on the carpet. The carpet wasn't there! As he started to put his foot on it, the carpet, with a thin black cord attached, was jerked toward stage right!. Nick adlibbed a spectacular stumble, and the ducks did their exit!

The next show, as he stood in the wings, waiting, he checked and saw no cord. At the right moment, he stepped on the carpet. IT WOULDN'T SKID! The guys had TACKED IT TO THE FLOOR!. He did another "adlib stumble".

He had been "initiated", so the guys quit the gag. They had had their fun. Nick's shoulder was getting sore. (No padding on stage floors!) He went to Pete Bouton, Harry's brother, and, stage manager. "Pete! my shoulder is getting sore from that fall." Pete responded< "Well, land on your head!" (The show must go on!!!)
Message: Posted by: Dapperdan (May 12, 2016 10:09AM)
Dick... an AMAZING story!... thank you for sharing!
Of all the true magic greats that I never got a chance to see, Blackstone Sr. is definitely the one I regret the most! (Of course, I was only 8 months old when he died.)
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (May 12, 2016 10:49AM)
I developed callouses on all 12 of my fingers, typing that! Glad you; enjoyed.

Last I heard, Nick was retired somewhere in Arizona. That was a couple of years ago. He was a year or so older than I when we met in the fall of '49.

The DAVIDSON THEATER is now a parking lot.
Message: Posted by: Anatole (May 12, 2016 01:23PM)
Getting back to the magician who appeared at the New York World's Fair--this article from the _New York Times_ provides some information:

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (May 12, 2016 03:00PM)
P.S. Elephants are said to have their graveyards, but, WHERE DO OLD MAGICIANS' PROPS GO?

I have no idea where the DUCK INN is, but, someone told me a few years ago that the DUCK TUB was now "retired" and is comfortably parked on an old Colonite's front lawn. where it now serves as a flower planter.
Message: Posted by: ColtonRaelund (May 12, 2016 09:52PM)
[quote]On May 12, 2016, Dapperdan wrote:
Dick... an AMAZING story!... thank you for sharing!

Same Here!
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (May 13, 2016 09:52AM)
[quote]On May 12, 2016, Dapperdan wrote:
Dick... an AMAZING story!... thank you for sharing!
Of all the true magic greats that I never got a chance to see, Blackstone Sr. is definitely the one I regret the most! (Of course, I was only 8 months old when he died.) [/quote]

Ya shoulda planned to be born ten years earlier! LOL

That old man was often called the "Ziegfeld of magic". Styles of performing have changed, but, when he had his box car full of "1001 Wonders on the road, I would take the train from Upper Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (all night ride) to see Blackstone, and, learn about how to present magic. In retrospect, that trip was well worth it.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (May 14, 2016 06:55PM)
Nick was retired in AZ but has developed Alzhemer's and moved back east with his son.
Message: Posted by: Chatterbox41 (Apr 16, 2017 11:01AM)
I fell in love with Harry Juniors magic on TV back in the 1960's and it was a thrill to meet him in 1970 when I was 13 at the Abbott's Get-Together... he was just walking around in jeans in the school gymn where they had the dealers room. Just one of the guys and very approachable! I saw and talked to him every year through 1974, when I moved from Michigan to Georgia. He was a true gentleman and a class act who made a lasting impression on a young boy!
Message: Posted by: Julie (Apr 16, 2017 09:19PM)
Hi Dick et all!

The key to Abbott's/Blackstone's(?) WHERE DO THEY GO? vanish was the same "prat fall" type misdirection.

It appears bold, and it is, but it worked! I understand Abbott's no longer builds or sells this unique version of WDTG even though it is listed in their current online catalog.

Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Apr 18, 2017 07:30AM)
Yeah Julie!

I FIRST saw the "ducks" in November, 1945. I was 13. I saw it about 6 times after that. When I was 16, 17, 18, I would take the "milk" train at 9 PM Michigan time, arrive in Milwaukee about 7 AM Wisconsin time, stay overnight, see the show at least twice, when I was 18, three times (matinee, and two evenings) and, return, tired, but, full of ideas! Mr. B. was always most hospitable, and friendly. On that last show, in 1950, I was a "member of the commttee". I stood NEXT to Mr. B, and I learned about wrist watch stealing.

On that last trip, I met Nick Ruggiero, and Dick Barry (both assistants). The "boss" was not well. The show closed that April.

So, I saw a half dozen performances of the "ducks". Yes, each year, the misdirection was different! One year, a duck was chased around the stage by the assistants. One year, one of the assistants, "bumped" another assistant, and a "scuffle" happened. ETC.
I've already written about Nick's "starring?" role!

My old friend, the late Jerry Conklin built an "Inn". The Conklin Family Illusion show, had enough assistants to make it possible. I've never heard of anyone else doing it.

I was a very fortunate kid!!! Harry Jr. and I became friends, years later. The last time I saw him, was in California. He was doing a tour of one nighters with Gay, a girl to "jump boxes" two boys to push the boxes, and, two boys in the pit. He was not feeling well, then.

Gay and Charlie Reynolds, and I spent a couple hours in my RV, dubbing the light bulb for Harry's memorial service at Abbott's, a year of two later.
Message: Posted by: Julie (Apr 18, 2017 12:48PM)
Great memories, Dick. Thank-you so much for sharing. We became friends with Nick when he first moved to Arizona. He's a very pleasant man and shared some wonderful stories and slides of the various magic shows he had trouped with. (That's an Oslund sentence ender.) When we'd occasionally visit his home and basement workshop in Sedona, it was amazing to see the "new" tricks he came up with up based upon proven principles from long ago.

Our initial contact with him was when he and Rich first began selling their Card Duckling. There was a lack of consistency with the initial production run, but Nick handled difficulties promptly and with courtesy so little aggravations never became big problems. He was a gentleman in his business dealings.

We understand he is not well now. We can only wish him the very best and remember him in our prayers.

Message: Posted by: Stunninger (Oct 14, 2018 05:53PM)
In the late 1970's when I was a child I first saw Harry Blackstone, Jr. perform his full evening show at the Studebaker Theater in Chicago. What a wonderful night that was! The full scale production show featured a cast of dancers, and many animals including a donkey, a Bengal tiger and an elephant. The entire show was delightful, but what I remember most were the asrah levitation, the vanishing birdcage and the floating light bulb.

Several years later Blackstone came to the area again, this time just he and his wife performing at the Blue Max night club in Oak brook, Illinois. That show also featured the floating light bulb and the dancing handkerchief. I found it fascinating that he could perform these two stage illusions in a night club.

I saw Harry one last time in the late 1980's, at the Circle Star Theater in Merrilville, Indiana. This too was a large scale production with big illusions, dancers and many animals. But the highlight was getting to meet Harry after the show where he autographed my stage bill.

What a wonderful showman Harry Blackstone, Jr. was. Thank you for the magical experiences and very fond memories.
Message: Posted by: GlennLawrence (Oct 15, 2018 01:06PM)
I got to see Harry Jr. once around 1986 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL. It was the full evening show and he packed the house of about 2000 seats as I recall. Most memorable were the Buzz Saw and of course the Floating Light Bulb. I clearly remember that although Blackstone told the audience not to try to grab the bulb as it flew over their heads, some did attempt to and the bulb jerked up and back toward the stage! That routine left such an impression on me that a few years later, I had Tannen's in New York city make me a custom one featuring a larger, globe type bulb. Never did end up performing it but maybe someday!

I feel like Jr. and to an extent Lance Burton were some of the last of the old time classical style stage magicians. Watching Blackstone Jr.'s show took me back to what it must have been like to see one of the old masters of Magic's "Golden Age" although Harry was certainly one of those in his own right! He surely left us too soon but at least I have the memory of that great evening!
Message: Posted by: Jerskin (Nov 6, 2018 02:33PM)
I worked with him many times, at Abbott's Get Togethers and at both the Newport Beach & Houston Magic Islands and considered him a friend. I was flattered when he came to see me perform at a comedy club.
Message: Posted by: Powermagic (Jan 24, 2019 07:08PM)
I recall PBS ran a show from West Point in the 80s. Is it on line anywhere?
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (May 29, 2019 07:57PM)
I believe that I have the only footage of Jr's short lived Farm act in the big show that did Duck's Inn. Even on film, the misdirection will fool you.
Message: Posted by: Rainboguy (May 30, 2019 06:07PM)
Jr. was a friend, and a Class Act....not only as a performer, but, more importantly, as a Human Being.

I miss him!
Message: Posted by: TomB (Jul 7, 2019 09:12PM)
Blackstone Jr was the epitome of 80s magicians. He had the appearance that said magician. His baritone voice drew you in. He had fantastic tricks. My two favorite are the floating light bulb and when he had the kids hold the vanishing cage. Complete superstar.

It can be said it's easy to judge someone when everything is right. There is one performance where everything went wrong. That was the 87 orange bowl half time show. He held his head up high and my guess is the people at the audience didn't know all the mishaps/poor decisions (lipsyncing, human horse, sawing in half, dropped bunny, the cards not falling, then the elevator not working). With YouTube however that memory is preserved. I cant help to wonder the back story. Was it lack of preparation? Was it rushed? Were they new props?

One thing can be said. Any magician that has a bad day, can always look at that performance and say even Blackstone Jr has days like this.