IBM Ring #21 - Hollywood, CA

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Caryl S. Fleming, Charter Member
Actor, Director, Writer, Magician, Financier, & Namesake
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Caryl Fleming
Caryl Stacy Fleming was born Oct 13, 1890 at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His World War I draft registration signed June 5, 1917 (age 26) has him living at Riverside Drive, New York City, employed by Film Craft Corporation in NYC as a motion picture director -- a far cry from Cedar Rapids. At that time, Caryl was described as "blue, blonde, slender and tall."

Caryl married Constance Ethel Norton of New York City (born Aug 2, 1895), and they lived in New York City for a time, where he was involved in moviemaking and she had family. Their only child was Marjory Gladys Fleming, born September 8, 1917.

Caryl worked as an actor, director, writer and amateur magician in New York and later in Los Angeles. His interest in magic never waned and as a result, in the spring of 1938, he helped charter a new magic club of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, christened "Hollywood RING 21."

As a charter member of Hollywood RING 21, Caryl rubbed shoulders and shared the limelight with such luminaries as; internationally acclaimed author Harold Robbins, attorney William W. Larsen, master magic craftsman Floyd Thayer, legendary stage magician "The Great Leon", author, hypnotist & mentalist Arnold Furstenberg and B-movie actor Chester Morris among many others.

As fate would have it, at age 49, Caryl Fleming died on September 2, 1940 in Los Angeles while performing a card trick...just one month shy of his 50th birthday.

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A more somber looking Caryl

At the time of his death, The Reno Gazette called him a financier and amateur magician. He was past President of Pacific Coast Association of Magicians, officer of Manhattan Trade School and of a trade school in Chicago.

According to several accounts, Caryl never told the same story twice when asked about his age or childhood.

Caryl's final resting-place is Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, formerly known as "Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery" nestled amongst Hollywood's elite such as Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Tyrone Power, and Cecil B. DeMille. The cemetery sits adjacent and just north of the Paramount Studios lot. Caryl's mother Constance is buried alongside him.

Subsequently, the RING's name was officially changed to the "Caryl Fleming RING" in honor of Caryl's many achievements and contributions over the years to the RING and the local magic community.

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Chester Morris, Charter Member
Star of Stage, Screen and Radio

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Born February 16, 1901, actor Chester Morris grew up in an artistic family. His mother was the comedian Etta Hawkins, his father William Morris was an actor, also his brother Adrian Morris (1907-1941). His brother Gordon Morris (1898-1940) was an author.

He began his film career already in the silent movie era but only in the 30's and 40's he became a big star.

He made his stage debut in 1917 on Broadway in Lionel Barrymore's play "The Copperhead", he also made his film debut in the same years with "An Amateur Orphan" (17). It followed the silent movies "The Beloved Traitor" (18) and "The Road to Yesterday" (25) before he was nominated for an Oscar for his first talky "Alibi" (29).

His breakthrough came in the 30's where he impersonated often tough fellows. To his well-known movies of those years belong "The Divorcee" (30), "The Big House" (30), "Red-Headed Woman" (32), "Infernal Machine" (33), "Public Hero #1" (35), "Three Godfathers" (36), "Frankie and Johnnie" (36), "Counterfeit" (36), "Sky Giant" (38) and "Blind Alley" (39).

He achieved huge popularity in the 40's with his role Boston Blackie" Black. He impersonated this character in more than a dozen movies and was able to live up his love doing careful carried out masquerades and to demonstrate his dexterity.

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He appeared among others in in the productions "Wagons Westward" (40), "Meet Boston Blackie" (41), "Wrecking Crew" (42), "High Explosive" (43), "Secret Command" (44), "One Way to Love" (46), "The Phantom Thief" (46), "Blind Spot" (47) and "Bostson Blackie's Chinese Venture" (49).

The expressive actor usually appeared in TV productions from the 50's, normally in single episodes of successful serials.

To these serials belong "Suspense: Black Panther" (52), "Danger: Death Pulls the Strings" (52), "Frontier Justice: Black Is for Grief" (59), "Naked City: Make-Believe Man" (61), "Route 66: Child of a Night" (64), "Dr. Kildare: Dolly's Dilemma" (64) and "Cimarron Strip: Without Honor" (68).

He only appeared seldom on the big screen in those years, e.g. in "Unchained" (55) and "The She-Creature" (56). 

Morris was dying of cancer when he committed suicide in room 202 at the Holiday Inn of New Hope by taking an overdose of barbiturates in 1970. At the time of his death, he was appearing in a stage production of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

He never saw the first night of his last picture "The Great White Hope" (70) with James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander.

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Max Terhune, Charter Member
Vaudevillian, Western Actor, Comedian, Ventriloquist & Magician

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Max Terhune

Max Terhune, although not the first of the two to make his way onto the silver screen, was the first to do feature length films. It may have been Terhune's success in features that inspired Goldwyn to use Bergen in features as well. Terhune was born, modestly enough, in a log cabin in Franklin, Indiana in 1891. A talent for whistling and bird calls at a very young age led Terhune to win a whistling contest. From there he would go on to perform bird and animal imitations, card tricks, song, and magic in vaudeville. After meeting The Great Lester … Max Terhune's interest in ventriloquism was awakened and Terhune added ventriloquism to his act. The first 'Elmer,' originally known as 'Skully,' became his wooden comedy partner and a hit with audiences.


In 1930 Max joined the International Brotherhood of Magicians and within a year organized Ring #52 in Anderson, Indiana just before planning the Indiana State Magic Convention in 1932.

In 1932, Terhune became the master of ceremonies of radio's WLS Barn Dance. It was as master of ceremonies that Max Terhune made the acquaintance of a young crooning cowboy named Gene Autry. Autry uses Terhune and his little wooden pal in Autry's radio show and eventually, in the mid 1930s, when Autry headed out to Hollywood to make his break into movies he urged Terhune to join him. Although reluctant at first, Max Terhune came along and made two movies with Autry for Republic Pictures 'Ride, Ranger, Ride' and 'The Big Show' (1936).

Republic Pictures wanted to use Max Terhune in the movies but they became reluctant to cast Terhune as a ventriloquist in a western … as Terhune envisioned himself. Terhune, not wanting to leave his comedy partner and little wooden buddy out in the cold when his big break in Hollywood arrived, continued to push for a part for his wooden partner.

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Max Terhune and Elmer Sneezeweed

When Republic Pictures began filming with their two newcomers, Gene Autry and Max Terhune, they liked what they saw in the two … or should we say three … because Max Terhune performed with his ventriloquist dummy partner in tow after all … having been able to convince Republic that ventriloquists did in fact exist in the wild west and that his wooden sidekick wouldn't seem out of place in a Republic western.

Max Terhune was signed to his own contract with Republic and Terhune became part of the popular cowboy trio The Three Mesquiteers, making twenty-one feature films as 'Lullaby' Joslin (the first six of them were with John Wayne) for Republic. "Ghost Town Gold" (1936) is said to have been Max Terhune's favorite Three Mesquiteers film because it is the movie in which Max's character is shown winning Elmer in a poker game. Terhune's ventriloquist dummy was given the name "Elmer Sneezeweed" for these movies and the name would stick for the rest of Terhune's career.


After Republic Pictures Max Terhune and fellow Three Mesquiteers star Ray 'Crash' Corrigan moved to Monogram Pictures and appeared in the Range Busters movie series … Terhune made two dozen of these westerns. The Range Busters were a western trio much like the Mesquiteers which featured Terhune's humorous banter with his dummy Elmer as they rode alongside Corrigan through more than twenty Western features between 1940 and 1943. Terhune would become one of the biggest box office attractions of the '30s and '40s. His success in the movies would continue for over a decade with Elmer becoming a popular box office draw as well.

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As far as serial western stars go … Max Terhune and Elmer Sneezeweed were among the great ones of their day.


Max and Elmer from the Range Buster movie "Arizona Stage Coach":

Elmer Sneezeweed
(vent dummy): Alibi, come here.
Max 'Alibi' Terhune: What's bothering you, Elmer?
Elmer Sneezeweed: Who's going to take that money to the stage office?
Max 'Alibi' Terhune: Well, I am, I reckon.
Elmer Sneezeweed: That's what I was afraid of. You better take me along to protect you.


Co-star Gene Autry has stated that …“Max Terhune was one of the best liked of all western actors.”

After Terhune's death in 1973, Gene Autry requested Elmer Sneezeweed be placed at THE GENE AUTRY MUSEUM of Western Heritage now called the Autry National Center.  Elmer resides in his new home for all to see.

 

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Arnold Furst, (Furstenburg), Charter Member
Magician, Author, Lecturer, Hypnotist
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Arnold Furst

Arnold Furst died on February 22, 2002 at the age of 83. Furst was best known to magicians as the inventor of the classic "Fresh Fish" paper tear where a strip of paper with the words "Fresh Fish Sold Here Today" is torn into pieces using a comical presentation and then restored.

As a magician he toured during WWII with the USO presenting his classic routine with Oscar the white rabbit. After the war he performed in nightclubs and did many shows for children. His success however, came in the field of Hypnotism where he wrote a number of very successful books about using hypnosis for therapy.

The magic books he wrote include: Famous Magicians of the World (1957), Magic for Monsters (aka Kid Stuff 6 – 1960), Mightier Than The Bullet (1961), Great Magic Shows (1968), and How to Get Publicity in Newspaper ... and Other Media (1975).

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Arnold Furst's "FRESH FISH" Paper Tear and his performing rabbit, Oscar, took him around the world including a 1946 FISM appearance. And these features, combined with his knowledge of publicity methods, filled up many scrapbooks!

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Floyd G. Thayer, Charter Member
Magic's "Master Craftsman", Thayer Studio of Magic
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Floyd G. Thayer residence, studio and Magic Theatre located at 929 So. Longwood Ave., Los Angeles, CA.

Thayer once sold high-priced illusions with their "Pay As You Show" Plan. Magicians could send a down payment for the illusion and then pay as the high-priced engagements inevitably (?) came rolling in from the feature of a new Thayer prop. Needless to say, this idea was quickly discontinued.

In 1942, William W. Larsen, Sr. traded homes with magic craftsman Floyd Thayer, which now belongs to Irene. The three-story Spanish-style home, built in 1937, was once the stomping ground to some of magic's best-known performers on Saturday mornings as they visited Thayer's Studio of Magic. The home's name, Brookledge, was derived from Bill Larsen's "Genii Speaks" column in "Genii Magazine."

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The homes' name also refers to the Rio de Oro brook running through the backyard. In it's heyday, and even today, Brookledge is a haven for world-renowned magicians and celebrities alike. In the early days, people like Dante and Blackstone dined there, and Orson Welles used the home's theatre with a red-curtained stage, to rehearse his tent shows with Marlene Dietrich, Joseph Cotton and Rita Hayworth, before they left to entertain World War II troops.

During his lifetime, Bill Larsen an his wife, Irene, traveled throughout the world spreading the word about the Magic Castle. Today, Irene Larsen travels around the world as an Ambassador-At-Large for the AMA, and the mansion where she lives, Brookledge, has the requisite magical bunny sitting on its roof, which Floyd Thayer installed years ago. Brookledge is now a historical landmark, and represents all things magic, from the time of Floyd Thayer's Studio of Magic, to that special day when the property became the homestead of the Magical Larsen Family.

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The famous Hindoo trademark of Thayer's Studio of Magic first appeared in the May 1918 issue of Magical Bulletin, and was a simple version of the character in the Talking Vase ads used earlier. The artist is not known, only his initials of W.S.

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The Great Leon, (Leon Levy), Charter Member
Vaudeville Headliner, Showman, Inventive Genius
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The Great Leon

Excerpt from "The Lost Papers of The Great Leon" Vol. 1, Issue 2, Magnus Mirabilis:

Leon Harry Levy was born in New York in 1876 and became, during the dawn of the twentieth century, a leading performer in Vaudeville. The Great Leon would become one of the most talented, gifted performers in the world of magic. Leon, was gifted not only as an accomplished performing artist, but also as an inventive genius in the area of illusion. This was in addition to his acumen as a showman and a knack for promotion and marketing.

Early in his career, Leon married Edythe Packard (of the Packard car company family). Edythe became an integral part of Leon's show, as well as his life. Both Leon and Edythe were vivacious, beautiful people made for the stage. Leon was well known in the magic community, with many friends. Counted among those friends was Harry Blackstone Sr.

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The Great Leon was an inventive mind. Throughout his career, and into his retirement, Leon continued to think about new illusions. Sometimes years went into bringing a new miracle into existence.

It is understandable then that Leon went to great lengths and was quite careful to register and patent his original work. In correspondence sent to Variety and the National Vaudeville Artists, Inc., Leon asks for and receives protective registration for all of the items he listed. Shrink and Shrunken, Fire and Water, The Miniature Haunted House, Ribbon Shot Through a Woman, Duck Tray, and The Doll House.
 
The Great Leon's huge illusion show was known for its fast pace and spectacle, and especially for his signature illusion "Fire and Water", in which a female assistant was wrapped in paper and set on fire, only to reappear in a water-filled tank on the opposite side of the stage. Leon also performed an Oriental act early in his career as Chunda Hula and later, Kadan Sami. 

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Dr. Edward Saint, Charter Member
Carnie, Magician, Friend, & Seance Conductor
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GENII Magazine, Vol. 2, #3 November 1937
Edward Saint was an old ex-Carnie man and the the companion of Bess Houdini after Houdini's untimely departure and helped keep Houdini's name alive right up to his own death.

Mr. Saint was the primary driving force behind the now famous Houdini Seances and conducted them himself atop the Knickerbocker Hotel just off Hollywood Boulevard for over 10 years until Bess finally decided to put an end to the seances in 1936.

A good friend of Genii's Editor, William Larsen, Sr., Edward Saint was featured in his own monthly Genii Magazine column: "Thru The Monocle" for a number of years.

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Bess Houdini & Edward Saint

Edward Saint was an old ex-Carnie man and the the companion of Bess Houdini after Houdini's untimely departure and helped keep Houdini's name alive right up to his own death.

Mr. Saint was the primary driving force behind the now famous Houdini Seances and conducted them himself atop the Knickerbocker Hotel just off Hollywood Boulevard for over 10 years until Bess finally decided to put an end to the seances in 1936.

A good friend of Genii's Editor, William Larsen, Sr., Edward Saint was featured in his own monthly Genii Magazine column: "Thru The Monocle" for a number of years.

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Harold E. Robbins, Charter Member
One of the Best-Selling Novelists of All Time!
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Harold E. Robbins
Born in New York City, Harold Rubin spent his childhood in an orphanage. He was educated at George Washington High School and after leaving school he worked in several jobs. Robbins made his first million at the age of twenty by selling sugar for the wholesale trade. At the beginning of World War II, Robbins had lost his fortune and moved to Hollywood where he worked for Universal Studios, first as a shipping clerk. Later he became a studio executive.

His first book, Never Love a Stranger, (1948) drew on his own life as an orphan on the streets of New York and created controversy with its graphic sexuality. Ian Parker says that according to Robbins, publisher Pat Knopf bought Never Love a Stranger because "it was the first time he ever read a book in which on one page you'd have tears and on the next page you'd have a hardon. [sic]"

The Dream Merchants (1949) was about Hollywood's film industry, from the first steps to sound era. Again Robbins blended his own experiences, historical facts, melodrama, sex, and action into a fast-moving story.

His 1952 novel, A Stone for Danny Fisher, was adapted into a 1958 motion picture King Creole, which starred Elvis Presley.
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He would become one of the world's bestselling authors, publishing over 20 books which were translated into 32 languages and sold over 50 million copies. Among his best-known books is The Carpetbaggers. It was loosely based on the life of Howard Hughes, taking the reader from New York to California, from the prosperity of the aeronautical industry to the glamour of Hollywood. Its sequel, The Raiders, appeared in 1995.

Robbins was married five times. From 1982 he was obliged to use a wheelchair because of hip trouble, but continued writing.

He spent a great deal of time on the French Riviera and Monte Carlo until his death on October 14, 1997 from respiratory heart failure at the age of 81. He is buried in the Palm Springs Mortuary & Mausoleum in Palm Springs, California.

Harold Robbins has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6743 Hollywood Boulevard.

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George McAthy
Columnist, Ventriloquist, Author, Humorist, Magician
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George Mcathy, GENII 1967
George McAthy graced the cover of both GENII and TOPS magazines in 1944. McAthy was recognized by both the magic and ventriloquial communities as an expert entertainer, humorist, and presenter.

McAthy later to made the covers of LINKING RING in 1953 and GENII magazine in 1967.

McAthy wrote a column, "For Vents Only" for a number of years for TOPS Magic Magazine and published numerous booklets on gags, bits of business and tricks for the magic fraternity.

George formed a new comedy magical society, the "D.O.P.E.S.". -- the Deceptive Order of Prestidigitoral Entertainers. According to the Juggler's Bulletin No. 7, April 1945, you could mail a buck to George at 1915 Alabama St., Vallejo, Calif. and become a DOPE member.

The brilliant comedy writer Robert Orben, was inspired by, "a very successful book in magic was something called Smart Talk For Magicians by George McAthy and I looked at that book and I thought well I can do that."

The international ventriloquial community, recognized Mr. George McAthy as one of their finest ventriloquists and vent figure experts.
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George Mcathy, GENII 1944

Publications by George McAthy

George McAthy's Smart Talk for Magicians and M.C.'s by George McAthy (1945)

George McAthy's Smart Business for Magicians & M.C.'s by George McAthy (1946)

George McAthy's Smart Tricks for Magicians & M.C.'s by George McAthy (1947)

Smart Stuff by George McAthy (unknown publication date)

Laff Letters by George McAthy (unknown publication date)

12 Ways to Use the Big Nickel by George McAthy (unknown publication date)

Magicomedy: By McAthy ; Illustrated by Micky Hades by George McAthy (1967)

Magic From the Dope Den by George Mcathy (1967)

New Laff-Tested Dialogues by George McAthy (1967)

The Dope Sheet by George McAthy (1967)

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George Sands  aka "Mr. Sandsational"
Magician, Performer, Inventor & Lecturer
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George Sands, GENII March 1992
George Sands began his magical journey later than most, at the age of 17 with guidance from Dr. Abe Hurwitz, who was the father of Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop's grandfather. With Abe's help he joined the Ledgeremaniacs. His peer group consisted among others, George Schindler, Frank Garcia, Howard Schwarzman, and Ken Krenzel. Not a bad beginning.

At the time he never realized the caliber of the company he was keeping but he absorbed everything he could from them and gave as much as he got.

To further his knowledge he worked for Lou Tannen-Tannen's Magic, Mike Tannen and Morris Fox (Royal Magic).

During World War II George developed his highly successful and much performed Sandsational Rope among other great mysteries, all to entertain his buddies in the trenches. Upon his discharge George reentered the world of Magic and joined the Knights of Magic. George felt the group was so advanced that he would practice weeks on end before he would dare show an effect to them. This was the basis of his perfection in performing and inventing.

George was a respected performer, inventor and lecturer and had traveled the country bringing his ideas and Magic to both lay audiences and magicians, all eager to enjoy what obviously is his real love for the Art of Magic.

Many illustrious performers have performed one of George's greatest contributions to Magic, Sandsational Rope. Dick Cavett performed the routine on the Johnny Carson Show, and said that George was a genius! David Copperfield performs his rope routine as do many others. His rope mysteries are the basis of most of the current rope routines in vogue today. He published many booklets explaining his vast collection of original effects and the culmination of material can found in his '50 Years Of Magic Series'.  There are still a few sets available from Arlene Sands.

George passed away on Tuesday May 16th, 2006.  He was 86 years old.

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Bev Bergeron
Entertainer, Magician, Inventor, Clown, Author
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Bev Bergeron is one of the most creative minds in the world of magic.

He rose from fame as Rebo the Clown on the CBS-TV show "Mark Wilson's Land of Allakazam" and has since played nearly every kind of venue from the top state fairs to trade shows to a 16-year run at Walt Disney'sTM Diamond Horseshow Review at Walt Disney WorldTM in Florida.

Las Vegas, Atlantic City, network TV for ABC, CBS and NBC are only a few of the other places Bergeron has performed. He recently returned from a tour of Australia and New Zealand, and has been elected President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and honored by the Magic Collector's Association.

Bev received the Lifetime Achievement Fellowship Award given by the Academy of Magic Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, California. Sponsored by the Magic Castle, the prestigious club for magicians, the award went to Bergeron for his long and continuing service to magic. Steve Allen, Harry Anderson and guest magicians from around the world were in attendance at the awards banquet. Mark Wilson made the award presentation.

A magical inventor as well as performer, Bergeron concocted and oversaw many of the illusions on the Allakazam show, a thing not generally understood by outsiders, who think of him mainly as a funny man clown.

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Bev Bergeron, Linking Ring, 1985

Publications by Bev Bergeron

Williard the Wizard (toured with Williard in 1948)
Rebo Nose Clowning
Entertaining Children with Magic
Ken Brooke's Magic-The Unique Years (1980)
Tony Marks - Aristocrat of Deception (2000)

MEDIA:

The Magic of Bev Bergeron (DVD)
Bev Bergeron: Comedy & Clowning (DVD)
Bergeron, Bev: Masters Of Excellence #3 (VHS)
REBO: Nose Clowning (DVD)
BEV BERGERON: On Tape! (DVD-VHS)

Bev Bergeron is also a magic inventor of hundreds of props and illusions in use by magicians today.

INVENTED:

Multiplying Magic Wands, the One Balloon Dog (1957), Utility Hat, and the Silk Gun.

www.BevBergeron.com