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A Look Inside Magician Trade Magazines from the 1940s-1980s

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From “Atomic Candle” and “Cigarette Impalement” advertisements to cheesy magic humor and sexy magician’s assistants – there’s a lot to love about these old magician periodicals.  We’ve got two from the forties and fifties, and two from the eighties.  Enjoy!

GENII, October 1947

Genii October 1947 (1)

“Portrayed on our cover this month are George Nicolls and his dainty and attractive, newly acquired wife.  Together they make a handsome pair and are much in demand in the better night spots in this country…. Recently Mr. Nicolls acquired complete ownership in a ‘spook show’ and he plans to supplement his already busy life with some midnight performances wherein the ghosts will gambol and the haunts will haunt.  I haven’t seen the new opus but I’m willing to wager that it will be good.”

I did a Google search for George Nicolls and could only find a reference to him in a 1951 issue of Billboard where he was suing to get compensation for an injury.  I presume the injury was from his stage show – I wonder exactly what happened.  I guess we’ll never know.

Genii October 1947 (3)

I’ve never seen the famous goldfish catching act.  Sounds intriguing.

Genii October 1947 (4b)

Now this is just plain awesome.  I can just imagine this stunning small audiences in the 1940s.

Genii October 1947 (2)

Genii October 1947 (5a)

The zipper banana…. suffice it to say, humor has changed in the last seventy years.

Genii October 1947 (4a)

Cigarette impalement.

Genii October 1947 (5)

For thorough details on how to open your own Spook Show see: Operating a Haunted House: A Vintage How-To Guide

GENII, April 1952

Genii April 1952 (1)

“Charles Kirkham and his beautiful and talented wife, Phyllis, have done much to grace the magic picture in the West these several years past.  Together, and aided and abetted by several other assistants, they present one of the few really large conjuring shows still laying in this part of the country.”

Genii April 1952 (4a)
Genii April 1952 (6a)

The 1952 Society of American Magicians (S.A.M.)

Genii April 1952 (7)

“WINDY CITY WIZARDRY: At the Chicago round table Dorny amputates the hand of a waitress…”

Genii April 1952 (5)

“Sock Comics”?

Genii April 1952 (3)
The first recorded flea circus dates back to the early 1820s, when Louis Bertolotto advertised an “extraordinary exhibition of industrious fleas” on Regent Street, London.

Genii April 1952 (2)

Genii April 1952 (4)

It’s sounds like they’re over-hyping this Atomic Candle shtick, but here’s a review from June 7, 1952 issue of Billboard: “Bill Larson from the West Coast reports that The Atomic Candle is one of the best selling tricks he has handled in years. This is the nifty [trick] in which a 15 inch red candle vanishes after being lighted and covered with an unprepared cloth.”

Genii April 1952 (5a)

Now let’s fast-forward a few decades…

MAGIC MANUSCRIPT, June/July 1981

Magic Manuscript _June_July 1981 (1)

I’m sure ol’ Bob was a stellar magician; but, as you’ll see, I can’t help but wonder if his success may have had a little something to do with his assistant.

Magic Manuscript _June_July 1981 (3bb)

Magic Manuscript _June_July 1981 (4a)

Magic Manuscript _June_July 1981 (7a)

Truly awful humor that I suppose may rouse a chuckle from a magician.  At the end, The Great Gusto Wynd thinks to himself, “He’d be great for Zig-Zag”.  This is in reference to the zig-zag routine….

Magic Manuscript _June_July 1981 (8b)

Magic Manuscript _June_July 1981 (9a)

Magic Manuscript _June_July 1981 (7c)

Magic Manuscript _June_July 1981 (8a)

And finally…

MAGIC MANUSCRIPT, July/August 1985

Magic Manuscript July_August 1985 (1)

Remember John Belushi doing the back hand springs down the church aisle in The Blues Brothers?  That was Jonathan Pendragon – a Hollywood stuntman who later became a magician. Charlotte was the other half of the Pendragons who went on to great success in the 1980s, appearing on TV a good bit and even at presidential galas for Bill Clinton and George Bush.

Magic Manuscript July_August 1985 (3b)

Things went to hell in the 2000s.  In 2006, Jonathan was changing a light bulb when he slipped and fell onto one of his arrows used in his magic act.  Talk about bad luck! It punctured his liver and stomach and was within inches of his heart.  Then, in 2009, he got into an altercation with Charlotte and was arrested at gunpoint!  Needless to say, the two went their separate ways shortly thereafter.

Magic Manuscript July_August 1985 (3)

(Left) The Pendragons, (Right) Carlton and Company

Magic Manuscript July_August 1985 (4)

Magic Manuscript July_August 1985 (2)

Magic Manuscript July_August 1985 (5)

  • Barry Rivadue

    Magician Bob wasn’t fooling anyone with that hairpiece illusion.

  • njguy54

    Besides having an awesome name, Jonathan Pendragon was very proud of his abs and his lady who is stroking his very large… sword.

    (Also, I wonder how many times he’s heard the “how many magicians does it take to change a lightbulb” joke?)

  • Fred Johansen

    The magazine Genii still exists, 75+ years and still going strong.

  • Liz Cooper

    Bob and Brenda Brown both have really large, fluffy wigs. And Brenda’s smile is painfully forced.