HOLLYWOOD September 17, 2006 — On Saturday afternoon of It's Magic! week, the Magic Castle threw a party in its Inner Circle to honor 50 years of It's Magic! alumni. A spread of Castle pastries, an open bar, and an incredible guest list guaranteed that a good time would be had by all. Golden helium balloons floated throughout the room, and a gorgeous ice sculpture of a huge "50" resting in a top hat made for a dazzling central display.

Ice scupture celebrates 50 years.

 In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention a few Castle-friendly celebrities who were invited but did not appear: Jason Alexander (he would be there later that evening), Nicholas Cage, Neal Patrick Harris, Tony Shalhoub, and (darn it!) Tippi Hedren and Teri Hatcher. My theory is that these celebrities might have realized, correctly, that they would have been on the B list of autograph seekers, with the A list being the alums themselves. Indeed, I suggested to one fellow that he obtain an autograph from famed composer Richard Sherman (who was present), and he declined on the basis that his autograph book contained "magicians only." (If the situation had presented itself, he might have changed that to "magicians and Teri Hatcher only.")

Indeed, numerous magical legends were on hand. It was my pleasure to meet Bill Chaudet, the only surviving performer from Milt's first show, way back in 1956, and to meet Nancy Keener, who looked great for a lady who first appeared on the fifth edition, in 1960. (Of her appearance on that show, Bill Larsen was moved to say, "Nancy can be my assistant anytime she wants to leave the old man!") Marvyn Roy was present (Marvyn was there all week, having a fine time), as were Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell. Accompanied by husband Glenn Falkenstein, Frances Willard wore a knockout dress. Goldfinger and Dove looked regal, with Goldfinger in a sharp white turban.

Arlene Larsen saw to it that the attendees received special gift bags, containing among other goodies a white 50th Anniversary It's Magic! baseball hat, Hollywood Walk of Fame candy bars with Milt's and Bill's faces on them, and a business card holder shaped like a small golden briefcase labeled with the 50th Anniversary logo.

At 4:30 the assembly, many happily oiled, trouped from the Inner Circle to the Palace theater for the photo op, where they squished and jostled together just as you did in those grade school photos, for magicians are a fun-loving bunch, and the vow to never grow up is more sacred than the vow to never reveal a secret. A few were wise enough to have brought props: Gay Blackstone held a vanishing bird cage, Dove fanned jumbo monte cards, and Frances Willard carried an antique spirit bell. A lot of history is captured in the final shot, and I leave it to the reader the pleasure of identifying who's who from the 50 or so faces both familiar and obscure, a sampling of the entertainers who defined live Los Angeles magical theater for the past five decades.

The crowd settles in to say cheese.

And for your viewing pleasure, here they are:

It's Magic! - The first 50 years.

If you are looking at this with bifocals and would like
to see a high-res version, click magnify. (Be patient.)

Class photo courtesy of Milt Larsen and Dale Hindman.

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Copyright© 2007 by Steve Bryant