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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » Jeffery Atkins. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Irish_matt
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St.Louis, MO
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Can anyone tell about the English Illusionist, Jeffery Atkins. I remember seeing him on BBC tv while I was growning up and would love to know more about him. Any reading material would be great too as I'm sure there aren't too many of his performances available on video.

Thanks,
Matt
Pete Biro
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1933 - 2018
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He owned a furniture store in England. He was a big guy in English magic club politics. I remember seeing him do a very impressive Aga Levitation at a British Ring Convention. Nice man, tall, very knowledgable. Was involved with the IBM here in the USA putting the Gold Medal Challenge together -- the first one, Lance Burton won -- he was the chief of the judges.
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hugmagic
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He was very active in presenting a collection of big old time illusions every year at the British Ring Convention.

I would either get some old Linking Rings or contact the Magic Circle for more info.

Didn't know about the furniture store? Always interesting to see how a lot of magicians make their real living.

Richard
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Irish_matt
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Thanks for the input, guys.

I remember seeing him do a suspension/levitation where a girl wrapped in a silk cloth floated virtically out of a box and proceeded to do a vertical 360 spin. It was probably around 1977-78 and still sticks in my memory. It was kind of like the levitation Doug Henning did in one of his specials with Sheilds & Darnell. I think I remember seeing pictures of a similar levitation performed by Howard Thurston too.

I may try and see if there are any books on Atkins through the magic circle.

thanks,
Matt
Pete Biro
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1933 - 2018
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I was wrong on my mention that he was involved in CREATING the Gold Medal competition for the IBM here in the USA... It was done when Bill Wells was the chairman and it was Wells and his committee that created it. Atkins was the chief judge, though in the first competition where Lance Burton won the Gold.

Note: I voted NO to give Lance the medal (altho my vote had no effect as he would win it by a majority vote). I had a REASON to vote NO.

Atkins told us to "think FISM" and since I had been a FISM judge twice before I felt the act Lance was doing THEN would not be a FISM type winning act as he used STOCK DEALER items in that act (Zombi ball, Fantasio Candles, etc.).

I wrote a lengthy article in Genii about it.

Some time later, in Las Vegas, Lance was working at the Tropicana and word was forwarded to me that he wanted to see me after his show.

I was a bit nervous figuring he might want to break my nose or something.

He came out and without saying much we got in his car and went to a restaurant for breakfast.

I'll be brief: He said, something like, "When I heard you voted no and I read your article in Genii I wanted to kick your butt. Then I read it again, and wanted to break your arms... then a read it again... and I started to wonder if you were right. I read it again and realized YOU WERE RIGHT... that article had a great influence on me and I changed things, worked harder (at the time I thought I was the best and couldn't be better)... and harder and when I finally go to FISM I had all new and original material and WON THE GRAND PRIX. So, Pete, Thanks!"
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Steve Knight
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Hi Matt, the levitation you mentioned is referred to in Paul Daniels's book as Carmo's mummy levitation; according to Peter Warlock in an old issue of the New Pentagram the patent on that illusion was registered to Carl Hertz. I might be able to dig up some more info on Atkins. I'll let you know.
Irish_matt
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Thanks for the info Steve. I really must get my hands on the Daniels book one of these days. Any more info on Atkins would be greatly appreciated.

It's also good to hear that Lance took his constructive criticism well, especially while working his way up the ranks. It certainly paid off.

Matt
Hayre
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Arkansas
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My memory fails me, and my facts may be incomplete, but when Lance won the Gold Medal, didn't he fail to get the most points in the Stage competition leading up to the selection of the Gold Medal finals ?
Bill Palmer
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I met Jeffrey Atkins on a couple of occasions. He told me that once he had built a big illusion in his kitchen, and when he finished, he discovered that he couldn't get it through the door. So he had to dismantle it to take it outside!

He was a nice man.
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The Sorcerer
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Jeffry Atkins alwas had big illusions, He was vey good, but his stuff must have beebn woth lots of money, I think you was a rich man, but very clever.
Pete Biro
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1933 - 2018
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Hayre: Yes, Lance didn't get "first" in the preliminaries. Dopey judges? Or was he "off" not sure as I didn't see that show. But when he appeared on the final show for the Gold he was ON FORM AND KILLED.
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mikefallen
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I wish I could know more about jeff Atkins! All I have is the manuscript of the magic tea kettle he wrote...
Anatole
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If I may assume the role of devil's advocate...

I question the statement that Lance's Burton's IBM Gold Medal act would not have been a FISM-award winning act because "he used stock dealers items in that act..." I feel that Lance's original Zombie routine was more magical-looking than the bird cage zombie. Because of its design, the bird cage zombie tends to betray the modus because the orientation of the bird on its perch and the bars of the cage itself tilt during the routine.

Cardini's act did not boast any unique, custom-made items, and I find it difficult to believe that Cardini would not have won FISM if FISM had existed during Cardini's prime.

To say that Lance's Gold Medal act would not have won FISM's Grand Prix because he used "stock dealer items" is like saying a great pianist would not win a great music award because he uses a "stock" Steinway piano rather than a custom-made piano. I would go so far as to say that the measure of any artist in any field (painting, sculpture, song, dance... whatever) is 90% art and only 10% the props or materials he works with. The paints and brushes that Leonardo used to paint the Mona Lisa and that Michelangelo used to paint the Sistine Ceiling were not likely a whole lot different from what any other artist at that time used.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
----- Sonny Narvaez
mikefallen
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An intersting point to think about...!
AdamOC
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I just stumbled across this post and thought I'd reply.
My dad Philip O'Callaghan (commonly known as "Pat") worked very closely with Jeff (or "Uncle Jeff" as he was known to me). My dad was an aeronautical engineer and got involved with magic long before I was around. Unfortunately my dad passed away in 2001, but he designed and built a lot of the illusions that "Uncle Jeff" performed with and had MANY stories. He used to tell me "It took me 4 years to work out how to make that illusion, so I'm not going to tell you how its done!". I can still remember as a kid seeing all the illusions stored at his house in The New Forest in England.
We moved from England to Australia in 1985 but prior to that my dad was on stage performing with Jeff most of the time. The "beautiful" female assistant in many of the acts was actually my mother "Cynthia" (who has also unfortunately passed away).

Cheers
Adam
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