Originally posted by Pete Biro:
There are a couple of people that I know of that know a lot about Frank Shields' work.
Paul Chosse and Mark McGuire. Mark, who learned and used a lot of the material, told me at the recent WMS he might be writing up several of Shields' routines for a future issue of Genii.
I wish I had taken notes at the time, but was more interested in watching Frank than learning his material.
Although he did teach me his handling of a false count, a top change and a great (simple) poker deal as well as a flashy display of four cards.
Hi James, Pete, etal.
I'm glad to see some interest in Frank Shields. He was one of the all-time great card handlers. Vernon loved him, in fact made what amounted to a pilgrimage to Oakland just to see Frank work. He (Vernon) once commented that "Frank did everything wrong that it was possible to do wrong when he did the top change - and fooled me with it worse than anyone ever has!"
Frank idolized the Professor, studied Marlo voraciously, was Braue's only real student, was confidante to guys like Jack McMillen, Bill Woodfield, Charlie Miller, Mel Brown (who, curiously, carried on a bi-weekly correspondence with Marlo for over 30 years, but NEVER met him!), and mentored people like Matt Corin, Jeff Busby, and me.
Frank was funny, kind, generous, and a hell of a magician. His rendering of Marlo's Supercount was legendary. Some of his bar antics belong in the "World's Funniest Magic Jokester Hall of Fame" (if there was one...). Imagine some poor soul, wandering into Frank's bar and thinking he would do some magic too. Frank would ask for the deck, dunk it in the bar well (in the sink), take it out soaking wet and shake it off. Handing it back to the hapless magic boy Frank would say: "Here you go, they looked a little dirty, so I cleaned 'em up for ya! Go ahead!" NOBODY worked Frank's bar... There are dozens of stories like that, stories about false teeth, cards in urinals, anatomical impossibilities, flying chairs, bar room brawls, and, common to all of them, amazing magic! If you've got a Frank Shields story maybe this is the place to share it. I'd love to see a book on Frank, but I don't know any one person who could do it. Maybe a collaboration, a collection of stories would be a fitting memorial.
After suffering a stroke that left him unable to do any slieght of hand, his passion and the way he made a living, Frank did something unexpected by most, but not by those of us who knew him. Refusing to throw in the towel, Frank completely re-structured his thinking, eliminated all slieght of hand, and developed a mental act! He was determined to continue to perform, and he found a way. Frank was an amazing, inspiring man, and the magic world is poorer for his loss.