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One night at the Magic Castle, June 12, 1968.
Return to our May issue for a look at Main Event: The Knockout Magic of Caleb Wiles, at Harry Anderson's'Penguin lecture, his Jinx tribute, his online clips, and his high school yearbook.
A half-century ago, dating from June 12, Maleficent and I tied the knot. There was an afternoon wedding and small reception in Pasadena, followed by an evening at the Magic Castle. Does life get any better? Magic has been there all along. I was already subscribing to Genii when we became high school sweethearts. My only regret is that I didn't pay more attention to her in junior high. We wasted what might have been a very nice year. I have absolutely enjoyed the ride through time, with an assortment of children and grandchildren and plenty of magic along the way. But for now, let's turn back the clock, to the one night that started it all.
A mere quarter-century ago, Juan Tamariz was thrilling TV viewers in his native Spain with his program "Chan-Tatachan." Thanks to those sterling folks at Magicana, we too can turn back the clock and enjoy his magic. Catch virtually all of your favorite magicians from the early nineties, in their primes.
And it was only eleven years ago in Las Vegas that I enjoyed Harry Anderson's and Mike Close's performance of Wise Guy, "An Evening's Interlude Intended for Mature Audiences Performed Without Intermission."As Harry has been on our minds of late, it was the perfect time to dig out the Annotated Script, with delightful annotations by Jon Racherbaumer.
GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY -- There was indeed a golden age of the Magic Castle, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. The Best Night Ever of that splendid era, for me at least, would have to be June 12, 1968, fifty years ago this month. To the surprise of those who knew me then, I showed up at the Castle that night with a date, a small, thin, drop dead cutie with a to-die-for wealth of blond hair. Earlier that day, more to the point, I had married her in Pasadena. It was her first visit to the Castle, and the regulars couldn't have made her more welcome.
Slicing a wedding cake in Pasadena.
Please indulge me as I turn back the clock and relive that evening, an uncrowded Wednesday populated mostly by members.
Quick on the draw, Jules Lenier kissed the bride. Decades later I reminded him of this. After that, whenever we would part company, he would smile and say, "Say hello to your wife."
Irma played Here Comes the Bride.
Someone, and I don't recall if it was host Guy Thompson or prez Bill Larsen, broke out the champagne, and drinks were served all around.
Dai Vernon was there and supplied the cake. He had been taking piano lessons from Ray Grismer, and someone had baked him a birthday cake--his birthday was June 11--in the shape of a baby grand piano. The Professor felt it was the perfect occasion to actually eat the cake, and so he let my bride do the honors and slice it. (Context: Vernon had just turned 74, the Larsens would welcome baby Erika in two days, and Jules was putting together the first AMA awards banquet.)
One of our favorite Magic Castle gags.
What else happened in the old mansion that night?
Did we dine? Probably not, given that we opened the festivities with cake, in the Grand Salon. But we could have. The prime rib dinner, complete with Victorian Festalboard and dessert, was five dollars in those days. Maitre'd Klaus Riisbro would unfailingly recognize us and compliment us for ordering "the same Johannesburg Riesling that Mr. Grant and Mr. Kerkorian are having." A typical evening for us was to dine and see magic shows at the Castle, then to drive to the Playboy Club in Los Angeles for drinks and breakfast (a dollar-fifty for either). Yes, fifty years was a long time ago.
Did we see any magic? I'm sure we did, but it would take some research to remember who. I first checked with librarian Bill Goodwin, who located a May and July Castle newsletter for 1968. Alas, neither contained a performance schedule. Bill suggested I try Genii, and that paid dividends. In those days editor Bill Larsen wrote a column called "News Direct from the Magic Castle (Hollywood)." In the June 1968 installment, he wrote that Close-up Gallery regular Al Goshman would be flying to engagements in the East and conventions in Europe. Replacing him would be Ron Wilson and Dave Tansey, with Mike Skinner as a nightly added attraction at 1:00 AM. Performing in the Wine Cellar on our night would be Don Lawton. We saw all these guys in the months to follow, but I don't recall the wedding night shows.
Did we miss any behind the scenes magic? Probably. Bruce Cervon had no entry in his Notebooks for June 12, but there was a nice trick on June 11 if you could do a four-card turnover.
All in all, a perfect wedding night. (OK, it wasn't over yet!) As Milt would say, usually on a night when the Castle was full of the likes of Cary Grant or Tony Curtis, "Just another night at the Magic Castle."
THE REIGN IN SPAIN -- Magicana recently added an extraordinary resource to its video Screening Room, over 18 hours of Juan Tamariz's "Chan-Tatachan" (whatever that means), his television program that ran in Spain from 1992-1993. In addition to generous footage of Juan himself, the guest list constitutes a who's who of magic on the planet in the early 90s. A few: Al Carthy, Anthony Blake, Chris Hart, David Williamson, Fantasio, Gaeton Bloom (lots), Harry Blackstone Jr., Jeff McBride, James Dimmare, Kevin James, Mac King, Mahka Tendo, Max Maven, Nick Lewin, Norm Nielsen, Rene Lavand (lots), Ricky Jay, Rudy Coby, Tomsoni and Co., the Pendragons, and Tom Mullica. Much of this is is in Spanish, especially Juan, with the Americans being translated into Spanish.
I've much left to watch. So far I particularly enjoyed Juan's Close-up Rising Cards (A familiar method that I know? Or three that I don't know?) and Al Carthy's (new to me) Making a Monster. In that bit a mad scientist assembles a monster, Frankenstein-style, that comes to life and enters the audience to seriously terrified screams. The monster returns to the stage and rips his creator's head off. How cool is that? Big thanks to Magicana for this latest addition.
Tamariz! Three methods or one?
AT OSWALD'S -- A few notes from February 2007, reporting on World Magic Seminar XXX: Personal and public highlights included: Harry Anderson's Wise Guy. Developed for Harry's passe night club in New Orleans, this is a two-hour stint of hilarious theater and magic, made all the more special with Mike Close on piano. These two guys should package the thing for Broadway and an HBO special. A few bristled at the language, but I sat at a table with San Diego friends and we never stopped laughing. My kind of show, especially Harry's Elephant Man as a ventriloquist.
In the wake of Harry's passing, rummaging through the flotsam and jetsam of my magic hoard, I recently came across my copy of this play, Harry Anderson's Wise Guy, the Annotated Script. This is Harry's one-act play that i saw in Las Vegas, not the Caveney book of magic tricks, and the annotations are by Jon Racherbaumer. Reading it is a handy way to remember the show, and Harry. For the record, the rundown is as follows:
THE WISE GUY MONTE/THE WELCOME
THE ELEPHANT COMIC
A MIDDLE-AGED STRAIT-JACKET ESCAPE
THE BRAIN SHOWS OFF
NOTHING BEATS SKIPPY
It's a fun script. There is even a Trump joke in there, written long before the joke was on us.
And even though The Grappler didn't appear in Wise Guy, I can't pass on the opportunity to run this image, a gift from my friend Joe Hanosek. It's classic Harry Anderson.
You should come back later for the X-rated show.
Sometimes I feel as if our marriage is haunted.
Happy anniversary, Beth.
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