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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Bob Brown and Brenda (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Chad Sanborn
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I was reading back through some of Tannens Magic Manuscripts. The June/July 1981 edition featured the Dynamic Duo of Bob Brown and Brenda. One of the items mentioned in the article was the "Ultimate Levitation". It was a go anywhere, do anytime illusion. And it became a signature piece with them. Does anyone know if they ever put the effect on the market?

Chad
Magical Dimensions
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Hi,
I know the mag that you are talking about, I have a collection of mags. The "Ultimate Levitation" was made by "Mephisto" in Beigium. Back when that mag came out I tried to buy the levi. I wrote "Mephisto" but, they informed me that they didn't make it any more.
I think that it sold for $3000. If you want an illusion that you don't see over here in the states, write to "Mephisto" and get their illusion catalog. They have some really cool things.
The "Ultimate Levitation" to be honest with you, is one of those illusion where you and the lady must really want to do it! It is work! One of the last persons that I read about who bought one was, Lance Burton. Contact him on his web site and ask if he wants to sell it.
If you want the address to "Mephisto" let me know. I will be happy to give it to you.

Ray
Darmoe
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Very interesting...

The illusion system used by B&B has had tons of theories and explanations set around it over the years. According to Bob, no one really knows all the twists and turns he's done to the device... he's never completely tipped it and it is not "stock" as in, the way it came from the original builder. I'm also to understand (from conversations with Bob Brown) that he's lead magicians on with the device from time to time as well... as in, he's switched gimmicks here and there, so as to add to the mystique associated with the effect.

I do know that Barclay Shaw "lent" some ideas to Bob that permitted some very clever advantages with live performances in a public park on the grass... Barclay performed this bit for the old "That's Incredible" show in the 70s... I do believe Lance is the only one privy to the full scope of said system (though elements of it were "borrowed" by someone for a Flying effect... as I understand the telling of the tales... )

BTW... Bob said he wouldn't sell his levi for $10,000.00 some twenty years ago, so I really don't think a $3k European system contains the complete answer... but what do I know Smile
"I firmly believe that of all the Arts and Crafts of Mentalism, there is nothing more satisfying than one who is a first-class Reader. It is the ultimate in Mentalism..." - Tony Corinda * 13 Steps To Mentalism
Blair Marshall
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Did any of you actually really see this "levitation" in performance?
I did.

Let's just say it looked great for photos.

Blair
gallagher
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I'm always a bit late,...
blame it on the school bus.

I have been reading Genii Magazine,..
June edition;
there was a short small article:
"Bob Brown has died."

'THE Bob Brown'?, I thought to myself,..!?
I googled, a bit,...
read a Thread, from Mary Mowder.
here on the Café,...
Caring for our Own,,...
Febuary 17th, '16,..
"Bob Brown has past away."

wow,...
I only met Bob Brown ONCE(!),
,....for a three day weekend,
in Germany,..
at a Magic Hand's Convention,..
back in the '80's.
I was playing with a floating ball effect,.
and totally fooled him(!),..
"I don't see the string."
"There IS no string!"
We were best friends, for three days!

Man was he good!
I'm SÖÖ surprised, there isn't,..wasn't,
MORE,..
written about the man!

Here IS, a short clip, of him,
and Brenda,
with his levitation.
Remember, it's only a cold rehearsal(!).
On stage,...
it was even better!
Bigger,,..stronger!
http://youtu.be/uFF00OuWgWA

Bob was a master of focusing attention(!),..
on a stage.
"Focus attention".
,he told me that, all week end.
"Create interest. Focus attention."

(another tip,..I heard,...
"Sex sells.",..(!).
Believe me, this wasn't coming from the lips of a 'dirty old man'(!).
This was a successful,...
great Magician.)

Mr. Bob Brown. A truely great Magician.
He's past on,..
but it is fantastic,
that he had been here!
Gallagher Hayes
gallagher
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P.s.:,...just found a bit more.

http://magic1.org/ibm192/honorees/Brown_Bio.pdf
ricker
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Of course this is portable

http://www.gamololevitation.com/
Ray Pierce
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Bob Brown was an odd one. From what I remember he was fairly well off and really wanted to be a magician so went after this one effect which became his trademark. I actually never knew of him doing anything else but this, but maybe he did. He hired Brenda to be his assistant and they always worked together. From the videos I've seen, his version of the levitation was clever in some ways but never really what I thought of as "good". The hook up and revolve always seemed very forced but it was his and he loved doing it at conventions and anywhere magicians gathered. To my knowledge he never really performed professionally but instead made his money other ways and just kept this levitation to show off to others in the trade. I've heard he was a very nice guy and loved magic a lot. It takes all types!
Ray Pierce
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hugmagic
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Ray you bring up many points about the levitation that are right on.
From my understanding, Bob made his money selling insurance to some of the biggest hotel chains all over the world. Through that connection, he did work some in other countries in these various hotel shows. Brenda (Saxon) was in the business already. Her husband did a juggling act in which she assisted. Bob was smart enough to know that a curvy blonde would create interest in his act. He was right on.
He was a nice guy and did love magic.
Richard
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Dick Oslund
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In a little booklet published by the late WINSTON FREER, about 1954, is a picture of him levitating a girl while standing on a table, apparently surrounded. It probably was a suspension, not a levitation, but, it did look pretty good.
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Bill Hegbli
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As I remember the article I read a long time ago in a magic magazine, Bob Brown made his wealth from an invention that he created while working for a company. In those days, companies purchased ideas from employees and became very wealthy. Now all work agreements, salaried or hourly, state any inventions are the property of the company.

Never got to see Bob Brown's act. It was said, the did his own booking all around the world. So I would agree he was an excellent salesman.

I applaud him, that he was able to do what he really wanted to do in life, and went after it, when the financial ability to do so came his way.

It would be nice to know what his act consisted of, besides the levitation of his assistant. Nothing has ever been mentioned or written about his act.

I wonder who obtained his levitation and material. No book is to be in the works. It seems he was not interested in the magic community, and had a connection to it.
cheesewrestler
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Quote:
On Jul 8, 2016, Dick Oslund wrote:
In a little booklet published by the late WINSTON FREER, about 1954, is a picture of him levitating a girl while standing on a table, apparently surrounded. It probably was a suspension, not a levitation, but, it did look pretty good.


If I remember right, the Freer effect was first published (just the photo) in the Jinx. WF standing on a table completely surrounded, woman suspended in front of him. Annemann printed the picture but dismissed it as trick photography: after some controversy, witnesses convinced him it really happened.
Ray Pierce
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David Copperfield recreated that classic photo in the ballroom where he won Magician of the Year from the Academy of Magical Arts.
Ray Pierce
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JNeal
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Bob was a real magic supporter. Every year he would host a huge party for a few dozen magicians at his condo near Laguna, followed by dinner and the Pagent of the Masters show. This was quite a hefty bill! He is work for the Hilton people at their hotels in exotic plac s. Maybe his insurance business was the inside connection, but in essence, he performed for fre... Trading lodging for shows. But he built up a long list of credits.

He performed once for the PCAM, WITH a prediction effect where the prediction was baked in a loaf of bread and it was not a great presentation. He was well liked because of his good natured personality and his generosity to other magi... Rather than his performing skills.
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Bill Hegbli
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You'd think if a person wants to follow their passion, and have the ability to get training and good direction, they would do so.
gallagher
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Again,
"I only met Bob once(!).
,..a three day weekend convention."
But I can firmly say,
he was great!
,..Magically, as well as Personally.

At the convention, he performed in the gala evening.
His levitation WAS the acknowledged 'high point'.
Everyone knew it was coming,...
wanted to see it.
He and Brenda pulled it off really smooth,.
didn't disappoint a soul.
On top of that,
they performed three or four other effects,
Each, taking a turn.
It was really interesting,
that Brenda WAS NOT an 'assistent', per se(!).
She stood her own ground!
She performed an illusion, while Bob watched,..
then Bob performed,
as she watched.
It was set to music
and very well choreographed.

If I remember correctly,
Bob performed a torn and restored newspaper,..
Brenda then, produces lit candles, simultaniously(!)
,....two at once,...
from a beautiful foulard.
I was a really balenced act.

The Levitation, was obviously 'last',
and super built up.
They took the time nessecary,.....
it was almost believible(!)
that she was hypnotised!
,...and that,
amongst 800 Magicians!
,..wasn't 'hokey-hypnosis'.

A very natural tempo.
Very natural movements.
How he lifted a bit of hair,..
her arm,...
it was very clever.
They used a lot of sublime.
Again,....very good timing.
They 'created the time'.
,..it really focused.

The illusion itself,
the hookup,
was very smooth,
800 Magicians knew what was happening
,...and didn't see a thing.
,...didn't 'feel' a thing.
It was very good,..
very smooth.
They received a standing ovation.

Besides his evening show,
Bob also gave a lecture on 'Creating Publicity'.
He was a master!
Houdini would have been proud,...!
On the flight over, from the States, to Germany,..
the press was waiting in Stuttgart!
He had preformed an 'impromptu' Torn and Restored Newspaper,...
on the airplane,..
using the Stuttgart newpaper(!).
The pilots radio-ed ahead,..
the press was waiting!

(he had binders filled with such publicity. Really.)

From what I understand,
most of his gigs were not 'hobby' gigs.
He played mostly exclusive shows.
Top-end private partys and performances,
...as well as top hotels around the world.

The guy was class.

(David Ginn put together a book, some years ago,
'Promoting Me II'.
A collection of professional magician's promotional material.
From business cards to stationary to publicity photos,
real examples of each,...
Bob Brown's material sticks out!
A touch of class, that just,...feels,...looks,...fantastic.)

The guy was really good.
,...i say this, not JUST because of his Act,
,.....but because,..
he WAS curious, as well(!).
{funny, but somehow,
the 'guys you think know-it-all',... 'have-it-all';
let you know,..
right away(!),..
they're curious,..
don't 'know-it',..'have-it' all.
They're the really 'good' ones!}
He was good.
gallagher
gallagher
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P.s.: From the back of my head,
I believe Bob told me his levitation was originally built by Roberto Vergonjeanne,..
Vernet.
Vernet built two(!),.. one for himself,
one for Bob Brown.

Bob Brown was later, the first to perform 'Impaled', in Europe.
Brenda saw the world,..
from lots of different perspectives!
smiles,
gallagher
Pete Biro
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Ray - I took the photo of Copperfield at the Beverly Hilton. David's parents, the Caveneys and one other, maybe Ali Bongo were seated at the table. David told me it was one of his favorite photos.
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Pete Biro
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Bob would check into 4 Star hotels and offer to do a free show in exchange for getting a photo and bragging rights.
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Quentin
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I was at the Magic Hands convention that Gallagher mentioned above and I remember Bob Brown's lecture on publicity. He would offer to buy hundreds of copies of a magazine if the magazine did a full story on him and especially have him on the cover.

Pete mentions him doing free shows in hotels. The trick he did to "prove his worth" was Francis Carlyle's Homing Card.

Magic Hands conventions were more than just conventions, they were events. There were two Bob Browns in magic. The other Bob worked for Magic Inc.
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