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Vandy Grift
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I am fascinated by Del Ray, I never saw him perform. I never even knew anyone that saw him perform, but I am fascinated all the same.

I am fascinated by the fact that apparently he rarely perfomed for magicians, rarely attended conventions, concieved and produced many if not all of his effects and never revealed any of his methods. I am also fascinated by the fact that everything I ever read about this man indicated that he was an unbelieveably talented magician. Max Maven wrote in Magic magazine shortly after Del passed away that Del Ray had given the greatest performance that he(Max)had ever seen. There was an article in Linking Ring a few months ago in which another person said the same thing. I read an article about Del written in 1958 and at that time he was already recognized as "America's Foremost". (the article also stated that that year Del was going to attend a convention and that was to be his first in 6 years).

How I wish I could have seen this man perform, I don't mind that none of his effects have been tipped or published and I don't mind that it appears his entire act seems to have gone with him. That actually seems right to me. I'm glad he took it all because it sounds so excellent, so magical that no one but Del Ray could or should have performed it. I only regret that I will never get to see his dice ladder, or the Lil' Bird that could predict the number a pair of dice would turn up or would reveal a selected card. Will never get to see Butch the Bear or the little mouse Willie. I'll never get to see his incredible card handling or hear him say "Wille when your ready-light up the-light" or "Stand by, Stand by".

I know there are a few folks on this site that saw and maybe even knew Del Ray, I would really love if you could tell me a little about this man and the type of magic performed. There is precious little available about this incredible magician and I would be glad to hear anything anyone would like to share.

Thanks,

Vandy

P.S. I also don't know of many photos of magicians that look as cool as those famous shots of Del Ray.
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
magic mike
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Michael M.
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Hi Vandy,
I sent you a private message about where to get film footage of Del Ray in performance.

All the best,
Mike
Channing Pollack is my idea of the perfect magician. For those of you that have not seen him perform, I recommend trying to get hold of a video of an old movie called "European Nights" made about 1959.
I was able to buy this video from Stevens Magic
Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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I saw Del Ray at a banquet when I was around 15. The platform act was fabulous; the close-up was the closest thing to 'impossible-possible' I may ever see.

Steve
Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
andrew martin
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I saw Del Ray here in Toledo and in Orlando.
WOW!!!!! The penny ,heads or tails? On it's side WOW!
Talk to him here in Toledo about 1:00 in the morning then he was off to Florida. Driving! (Del did not fly)I was with Al the Only and Lori. Lori ask him if he wanted a room and he said, no ,I gota go.
He told us about working on the Blackstone show. I have a friend that worked on the Blackstone show and she that Del was amazing back then.Del showed her how to do card fans.
hugmagic
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Andrew,
Who is the Blackstone show friend? I know Del took George Johnstone's place on the show. His first gig was Nashville TN and he had to climb in the flys amind all the dust and dirt to hang the stuff for the levi.

I first saw Del in college when I drove to Columbus to see him do his stage and closeup. He also had his color film of the Blackstone flower act and Thurston movies. I took a 4-H friend with me. It was the most incredible show I ever saw.

Del loves magic. Unlike a lot of pros he would set and do magic for hours. Do not let the various mechanical things he might or might not use for his act fool you. You never knew what was Del and what was something else. He could run cards for a poker deal and palm them in and out in a flash. Realize Del also worked around some of the shadier characters in this world. He told me once he was hired to entertain a big gambler who was afraid to fly on a flight to Vegas. The funny part Del was not thrilled with flying either.

I spoke with Del about a year before he passed on. I was flattered that he still remembered me, mainly because of my contact with his through the Marshall flowers. He was getting ready to work another NFL Commissioners Party in Canton for the Hall of Fame weekend. He had worked everyone since Pete Rozelle had been commissioner. He had worked many, many Kentucky Derby parties.

It was only in his later years that he let any magicians see his act. Unfortunately, his stage act had slipped some by then. But his closeup was always impecible.

Imagine a gruff sounding Polish fellow who looked more like a stevadore than a magician, just charming the pants off everyone. It was a truly magical time.

As to the secrets with him, maybe not. I know a fellow who knows all the "work" . I am trying to get him to write it down at least to preserve it. I would not want to see it published but it needs to be archived. But even with the necessary mechanics, there will only be one Del Ray!
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
Vandy Grift
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Thanks a lot guys!! I really appreciated it. I am hoping that someone will put a difinitive work together on his magic. At least cataloge the effects that he did.

Dr Midnight, can you remember specifically any of the things he performed that day?

Richard- thank you for the info, you and the others were very lucky to have seen him perform. The info you supplied seems to fall right in line with what I've been able to find out. Particularly the fact that Del worked mostly high end trade shows and corporate circuits. Also, the Blackstone info. As far as his magic, yes, he had some mechanical marvels, but as you said, EVERYBODY that I have ever heard speak of him makes it clear that those were just a small part of the magic of Del Ray. His card work is said to have been excellent. As Andrew said, he did miracles with coins. In one article it was described that he would spin a coin on the table, say something like "you call it, you keep it" then slam his hand on the table and say "too late!! too late it's gone" and show his hand completely empty both sides, fingers spread. In addition I have heard he was one of the greatest dice stackers of all time, finishing with a vanish of the dice that apparently blew peoples minds.

Thanks for the info guys! I'll read more if anyone wants to share some more.

Vandy
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
jkesler
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Vandy, I interviewed a magician that was good friends with Del Ray. He had great stories about Del. I am currently writing an article about Del's friend. pm me for more info.
James
Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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You had better believe I remember!
If you want details, PM me and I'll give you a rundown of what I recall.
Teaser: I walked up and looked at the platform after his club routine. It was LITTERED with crushed-out cigarettes! Part of his routine included casually producing a cigarette periodically, puffing it a bit, and then dropping it and crushing it out.

Steve
Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
Doc Dixon
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Del Ray was the best. PERIOD.

I realized how great he was from the first time I saw him, but that estimation went through the roof when I saw a give a performance for LAYMEN. Laymen often aren't as polite as magic conventions audiences are, but to Del, it didn't matter. One of the spectators, after Del dealt hands of blackjack and poker and won easily, kept saying "Let me deal -- I wanna deal". Del, unphased, eventually handed the putz the deck.

The guy deals.

Del wins.

Flawlessly, as though it was part of the show all along. Using technique that would put a lump in most magician's throats, but done with the steady hand of a master.

One thing that should be remembered, though he had a TON of original material, he wasn't above doing the classics -- but yet he didn't mindlessly walk through them, doing the "book" patter. No, everything he did was stamped with his persona.

A confession:
A few nights ago I was alone in my den, smoking a cigar, sitting back in a big leather chair with a video of Del Ray on the TV. I don't mean to get sappy, but I couldn't help but get a little misty-eyed as I thought about what we've lost with his passing.

Simply the best ...

Respectfully,

DD
Jonathan Townsend
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Agreed that we've lost another conjurer the likes of Karl Germain.

The larger questions are;

0) Who owns the rights to the work? Have they voiced an opinion on the matter?

1) Does his work get lost, buried, or published? Who decides? Are we going to have his stuff bubbling through the underground? If the guy's friends are keeping the magic alive in performance... wonderful! No need to publish a working repertoire. If the stuff is just artifacts sitting around gathering dust... a tragedy.

2) What does this suggest to you about your own works? Gossip merely browbeats those who listen. It does nothing for the art.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Vandy Grift
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Thanks a lot for that story Doc, looks like you live right in Dels neck of the woods. You may have been one of the lucky ones to have seen him multiple times.

Jonathan, Good questions, I have no idea.

0) I don't know if anyone owns the rights to his work. It's possible that noone does. His wife survives I believe and I believe he had children but I don't know.

2) I don't know what is going to happen to his work. I don't think it would be unheard of for Del to have stipulated that nobody ever perform the stuff or even know the working or handlings. Richard Hughes says there is someone who has the knowledge, but who knows what will be done with it? Who decides? I would say Del decides, if he made provisions. Even if that decision is not the one that the "magic community" would prefer.

3) As far as the gossip, I am not trying to engage in gossip about Del Ray. I'm just trying to find out a little more about the magic of a person who seems to be held in unbelieveable regard by many. And at the same time, is virtually unknown not just to the general public but to the general magic community.

But I will tell what I have discovered, Del Ray didn't trust magicians. Didn't want to perform for magicians (even though he blew them away when he did) and didn't seem to care what any magician thought about his act. He was different than the "self absorbed" magicians that you often describe. And also was a consumate performer for it. He performed and entertained his AUDIENCE. It's hard to imagine a magician as good as Del Ray that didn't seem to have a bit of that "look at me" attitude. How many are there today? People that are considered "great" "the best" "Americas Foremost" that don't market effects produce teaching materials or appear at conventions? Del Ray recieved a standing ovation at the IBM convention in 51 or 52. Then he didn't go back fo 6 years. Clearly, this mans motivations were not centered around attention and self aggrandisement. That tells me plenty, I just haven't sorted it all out yet in my mind.

I believe that he didn't trust magicians because he knew they would rip him off. I've heard that he didn't want to perform for or have his act seen by magicians while he was alive and wanted that to continue after his death. Because he didn't trust most magicians, because they would rip his act off. They would and they will, if the stuff comes out.

I think if we look at the life and magic of Del Ray it just confirms what we all kind of believe and know to be right, correct and true about magic. But it also shows how few people actually live up to those ideals. that's what makes them special.
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
Pete Biro
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Someone did rip him... he showed up at the Castle with the table and the lot... after it was found out he was told to pack up and go home.

Don't know how much he had/did and if he still has all the STUFF.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
Vandy Grift
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Quote:
On 2005-04-11 16:49, Pete Biro wrote:
Someone did rip him... he showed up at the Castle with the table and the lot... after it was found out he was told to pack up and go home.

Don't know how much he had/did and if he still has all the STUFF.


Someone showed up with a VERSION of Dels' act or someone showed up with the actual props that belonged to Del? When did this happen?
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
Vandy Grift
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I was fortunate enough to view a performance that Del Ray gave at Tannens Jubilee. Some of you may have seen this. Of course I had built it up so much in my mind it wasn't going to be all I expected.

WRONG

Everything I heard is true. I was blown away.

Vandy
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
hugmagic
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Someone did indeed try to rip off Del and that is why he stayed away from magicians. He had copied Del's stage act and tried to pass it off. He was run out of every convention he tried to go to. I believe he is out of magic now. His name was Tazzi.

Del did not have any children. As to who owns the rights, I think Del does. There was only one and will never be another. Any one who attempts to duplicate will always be compared to him. His mechanisms are everyday items in their world but it was truely the genius of Del to make them blend in with his act.

I do know the man who knows the insides of act. I am happy to say he is a man of very high standards and ethics. I do not know if it will be ever released. My only point to this man was archive it somehow so it is not lost. I made a similar request of David Alexander who recreated the Frakson act at Collector's last weekend. This knowledge should not be freely passed around but it must not be lost. There are those who will preserve and cherish this information until the time is right for the next person to use part of it. I might add David will be releasing a recreation of the vanishing and reappearing Martin style cages with DVD soon. Sit down. If you are curious, it will cost $6,000. No, the DVD's will not be sold separately.
Richard E. Hughes, Hughes Magic Inc., 352 N. Prospect St., Ravenna, OH 44266 (330)296-4023
www.hughesmagic.com
email-hugmagic@raex.com
Write direct as I will be turning off my PM's.
Vandy Grift
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Richard,

I agree, I hope that someone preserves the act. Not to be performed, just so it dosen't disappear completly. Which would be a shame. The good thing is that having seen the act now I can see how difficult it would be to duplicate. Not just the effects themselves but the way Del Ray presented them. Anyone trying to do the same things would be so obvious it would be ridiculous. There really isn't anyone I've ever seen like him. I suppose there are those that would think that since not many people know about Del they could get by ripping him off. But they would be spotted eventually and shut down.

You would have to be a pretty good fool to think you could steal that act and get away with it for very long. You certainly would never be able to go big with it because you called out pretty quick. I can garuntee if I ever see someone doing any of it they are going to be asked about it.

Bottom line, the guy was one heck of a magician and entertainer. I was laughing as much as I was scratching my head over the magic. Excellent, excellent stuff. I'm so glad I was able to see this man work.

Vandy
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2005-04-14 08:04, hugmagic wrote:...I do not know if it will be ever released. My only point to this man was archive it somehow so it is not lost. I made a similar request of David Alexander who recreated the Frakson act at Collector's last weekend. This knowledge should not be freely passed around but it must not be lost. There are those who will preserve and cherish this information until the time is right for the next person to use part of it. WHO DECIDES?


I follow you up till the should stuff. For all the copyists, hacks and tyros in conjuring, there are artists who would be ever so much more productive if they had access to these wonders.

I argue that since the guy is gone, let it get out as widely as possible. Sure the collectors will pay good money for nicely made props and pretty books. The rest of us just want to appreciate the guy and his works.

This way, those who look down upon others while pretending to serve the art will not have exclusivity or bragging rights, and the artists will have the knowledge to build new works. The rip off artists lose in that they will not be respected as copyists, and the art wins with the new works developed.

Consider carefully who it is who wrote those words above. Not many have the experience of seeing part of their legacy touted and become common knowlege during their lifetimes. I have seen the good and the bad of it. What do you think about this approach?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Vandy Grift
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Jonathan,

I want to think about your post for a while, but I have to admit I'm a bit surprised by it. Now, you know much more about magic, the history of magic and all things magical than I do, but given how your wishes in respect to your VCA and possibly other things were disregarded(albeit while you were alive) I would be surprised to hear that you would call for the stuff to be released.

Now, I don't know what provisions Del Ray made while he was alive regarding his magic once he passed on, but I would think that has to be respected. I don't know, for example, if he said the work was not to be released. Perhaps he did grant permission to someone to discuss it after his death. I just don't know. I know it's a tough call. The art could probably be advanced if this material was put into the correct hands, and I don't think Del's legacy would be destroyed if a few hacks started using it. The mans legacy is firmly in place I believe.

Still it's a tough question, espically for someone like myself who does not possess an extensive history of magic and how these thing are traditionally handled. I just go with my gut I guess, and not knowing what Del's wishes on the subject were it's hard for me to determine what is right.

I guess a question would be; if someone has all the work but was told that this was not to be given away, should if be distribuited widely anyway? For the good of the art?

Vandy
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
Marshall Thornside
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The 1985 IBM Convention Kansas City.
celebrating 100th birth of Blackstone, Sr
he was on one of the shows.

I can't remember if he was on the panel along
with my dad and uncle geroge and uncle harry.

but I remember seeing him perform.
you will remember my name

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Vandy Grift
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Thanks Marshall,

I know from your posts that your family and the Blackstones were very close. Del was an assistant to Blackstone as you probably know so it makes sense that he would be there to honor the man. I'm sure that your father and Del were well known to each other as well. Harry Jr, DeYip and Del. Must have been a wonderful convention.
"Get a life dude." -some guy in a magic forum
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