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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » When was the Zig Zag actually invented? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Aroy
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Can anyone shed some light on when the zig Zag was actually invented?

ROY
Bill Hegbli
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The Zig Zag was an invention of Robert Harbin, an English magician/inventor. He published his book in 20 or 30 years ago on a limited basis with signed contract.

In 1969 Dick Summers in Chicago, was in Los Angeles, CA local convention. At that time he claimed it was his invention. He made a break-down model. It made the newspaper and created a lot of controversy at the time. It was the 1st completely surrounded illusion that was a trick anyone with a $1000 could own an perform with only a 1 assistant.

It quickly became the most popular illusion around. My wife at that time was the person in all the newspapers (in the illusion) as Summers did not have his assistant with him on this trip.

I do not have Harbin's book at hand, so I do not have so the date he created the miracle is not know to me.

Hope this answers you question. There are many different types of quality in this illusion. Some break down others do not.

Bill
Aroy
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Thanks for the input Bill.

I was actually looking for the year in which Robert Harbin himself first performed the trick.

Any help here?

Thanks
Bill Hegbli
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Aroy,

After going thru the Harbin Book I find it lacks dates on almost all of the Illusions.

He only states he performed it on a TV spot 'Sunday Night at the Palladium'.

The final version had 4 previous prototypes.

That's all I can find. Sorry.

Bill
Randy Sager
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Pete Biro maybe able to give you the time period it was invented by Harbin. He was a friend of Harbin's
Jeremy Greystoke
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Robert Harbin published his magnum opus "The Magic Of Robert Harbin" in 1970. I believe the illusion was first performed around 1967. It was performed on the show "Sunday Night At The Palladium" as a previous poster noted. This series was actually shown here in the U.S. during the summer as a summer replacement series. I believe it was on NBC, and the host for the episdoe in question was Jonathan Winters. This sticks in my mind because Winters was the onstage spectator assisting with the performance...and he was completely stunned by the illusion. I don't recall him making any sort of comment or joke....he was just completely dumbfounded.

For those who have seen shoddy constructions and performances of Harbin's brilliant creation, I wish you could have been sitting watching TV that night back in the late 1960s. The illusion was literally astounding and quite impossible-looking.

Jim Sommers tried to rip it off and claim it as his invention. This dubious claim was quickly shot down, and Sommers later issued a public apology.

Harbin was featured on the cover of Genii with the Zig-Zag (and this cover is reproduced in the book) and I think it may give the year it was first performed. I know it's somewhere between 1965 and 1968.

Hope this helps!

Jeremy
HarbinJr.
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Eric Lewis wrote the massive book called "The Genius of Robert Harbin." This book has a lot of the info I believe you all are looking for in dates and such. It gives a much better history of the Zig-Zag. The predecessors of the Zig-Zag were the little by little and the take it away. Harbin often would keep re-invinting his illusions. Jim Sommers did attempt a rip off and I believe there was someone else that tried to do it. Im not sure who the other person is. In a interview, Harbin I "believe" reffered to two people ripping him off. I may be wrong though. I had at one time talked to Sommers and he still claims the zig zag as his. But there is a lot of information that is missing out of the Magic of Robert Harbin because Robert Harbin would write something down and not reread his work to make sure everything was correct. The Genius of Harbin in many ways fills in the gaps that the first book leaves behind.

Robert
Bill Palmer
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The thing that pretty much nailed Sommer's posterior to a tree was the design on the front panel of the Zig-Zag. It was so close to Harbin's that there was no doubt where it came from.

Terry Seabrooke and Billy McComb have a lot to say about that illusion.
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Harry Murphy
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It is difficult to pin down when Robert Harbin first performed the Zig Zag. It was some time after 1957 and before 1965. In 1957 he performed his act on the first US network special. He did not perform the Zig Zag. He was still performing the moving head illusion. By 1965 there is evidence that a couple of different US magicians, including Mark Wilson were performing it (with Harbin's approval).

Mark Wilson is credited with having performed one of the first presentations of the Zig Zag on TV. He performed it on one of his six “Magic Circus” (CBS-TV) specials, which was aired after the “Magic Land of Allakazam” (1960 to 1964) ended its run.

Mark performed it in the round, had the illusion spun after the mid section was pulled aside, and even pushed the illusion toward the audience so that they could see that the hand and foot were real! See a clip of Mark and Nani performing it on that show at: http://www.markwilsonmagic.com/streamingvideo/zigzag.html
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chmara
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Please note -- the art on the ZZ front for both the original mock-up and final was created by Billy McComb's then wife. For exact provenance and dates ask Billy -- he also was instrumental in making the McComb - Harbin Blade box I now use.....with pride and very different routine. (Really - Harbin's routine was as evident of genius as is the prop -- which suffers from too much bad handling. Ask Pete B abkut that!!! He's seen it all!!!)

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ricker
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The Genii Magizine with Harbin and the Zig-Zag on it is April 1969 (yes, I have it in my possesion).

The article on him in Genii is called "If Ever a Wizard there was".

No mention of the date of the Zig-Zag in it either.
Aroy
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Thanks for all the input guys.

Just thinking how interesting it is that, with what is possibly the most performed illusion in the world, we are not even able to pin point its date of origin.

Mmmmmm!
Liam Jones
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Robert harbin was the inventor I have heard and he was also the first to perform it on a television in black and white so going back a few years ( 30 years as a guess )
Bill Hegbli
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If anyone knows a free website, where I can post the pictures of the Jim Summers Zig Zag being performed in 1968 or 1969 at the Hollywood Calvelcade of Magic with my wife as his assistant, I would be happy to post it so all can see.

Bill
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