Bill Neff

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Ken Trombly » 01/22/03 03:47 PM

I am looking for anecdotes or any interesting info on Bill Neff. You can post it here or email me directly (trombly@magicposters.com) thanks so much.

:rolleyes:
Ken Trombly
 
Posts: 63
Joined: 04/06/08 10:27 PM

Postby Don Spurrier » 01/22/03 07:41 PM

As a young man, I had the good fortune to see Neff's show on many occasions. He had one piece of business which has stayed in my memory over the years. It involved the Burned Alive Illusion...you know, where the reclining female assistant is enclosed in a casket or surrounded by a box of some sort; a torch is touched to the contents and flames ensue. The sides of the box drop down at the climatic moment, and it is seen that the girl is gone. In her place, instead,is a smoldering skeleton.
In Neff's version, in the preliminary stages, the sudience side of the casket or box was open allowing full view of the right side of the "sleeping" assistant. As the sacrificial preparations were being readied, the unconcious girl's right arm would slip off the platform to dangle downward. One couldn't help but observe the ornate bracelet around her wrist. Neff would notice the movement and gently replace her arm on the platform by her side. As the preparations for the sacrifice continued, a minute or so later, the arm would slide off and dangle again. Neff never made a big deal of this. Rather, it was very underplayed. He simply would replace the arm with no comment. Maybe it happened a third time; I don't remember.
Anyway, the side of the box was closed up. The torch was applied to the now hidden girl. Flames and smoke engulfed the interior of the box. As the flames died out, all of the sides of the box/casket would suddenly fall open to reveal the transformation of the girl into a still smoldering skeleton. As the effect registered with the audience, the skeleton's right arm would slowly slide off of the platform to dangle beside the coffin. An observant spectator would notice that slight movement and note that on the skeleton's wrist was the exact, but charred, bracelet that he had seen before. No one called any attention to it, but a sharp, very observant guy would pick up on it. And maybe, if he was lucky, he would remember it forty years later!
Don Spurrier
 
Posts: 44
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Huntsville, AL

Postby Pete Biro » 01/23/03 10:58 AM

Not a Neff story, but yours reminded me of a Burned Alive bit..

I was in "Les Sorcery" a review show produced by Johnny Thompson (Great Tomsoni & Co.) some time ago in Reno, Nev.

On the closing night of the show, traditionally, the cast does inside gags and bits...

When the girl was "in flames" a number of us came onstage with marshmallows on sticks and held them over the flames to cook them.

:D :p :D

In addition, I stole and produced John's Bowling Ball just before he went on.

:p :p :p
Stay tooned.
User avatar
Pete Biro
 
Posts: 7124
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Hollyweird

Postby Don Spurrier » 01/23/03 05:29 PM

Hey, Pete, good story! One of my convention funny moments was magician pattering into the down front microphone. Upstage ia a Doll's House which has been in position for some time. While the pattering is continuing, someone enters from stage right (I seem to remember Jay Marshall as the culprit). That person is carrying a glass of water. Everything is underplayed. That person walks to the house, slightly parts the roof and inserts the glass of water (ostensibly for the thirsting assistant), closes the roof, turns and exits the stage. Not a word is said. The pattering magician never notices and the show goes on!

I think that this was at an IBM National, but I don't remember who, when, or where. Got any help?
Don Spurrier
 
Posts: 44
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Huntsville, AL

Postby Pete Biro » 01/23/03 06:41 PM

No, but... we were doing an Historic Presentation of the original sawing ala Thurston.

Johnny Thompson was made up as Thurston. Mike Caveney had the original prop and John did the sawing...

When finished the historic element came into play, in that a discussion and Q&A ensued.

Suddenly we heard this loud knocking sound.

They had FORGOTTEN that Tina Lennert was still inside the box and it was still on stage... for a looooooooooooong time! :D :D
Stay tooned.
User avatar
Pete Biro
 
Posts: 7124
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Hollyweird

Postby David Alexander » 02/03/03 12:20 AM

Does my memory serve me in that Neff was Jimmy Stewart's brother-in-law?

Stewart has a published trick in The Jinx.
David Alexander
 
Posts: 1550
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Aurora IL

Postby Guest » 02/03/03 09:36 PM

Originally posted by David Alexander:
Does my memory serve me in that Neff was Jimmy Stewart's brother-in-law?

Stewart has a published trick in The Jinx.
Doomo has informed me that Jimmy was actually a college mate of Bill's when they were very young and worked as an assistant for Bill.
Guest
 

Postby John Smetana » 02/04/03 11:18 AM

Back in the 60's I had the pleasant opportunity to spend a little time with Bill Neff. He was working in the lobby of a movie theater in NYC, doing small magic and illusions, promoting a movie the title of which I don't recall.We had a very pleasant conversation and I found him to be a true gentleman.Whenever he was in NY he generally appeared on the Long John Nebel radio show which is where I heard he was working this theater.

I asked why he wasn't performing on the stage rather than in the lobby and he told me that the unions had made such stringent demands that it would have cost him money to perform inside the theater.Demands such as two electricians to operate the Van de Graff generator he used in the show...payment for 3 musicians, even though he used pre-recorded music..etc. He also mentioned that he would probably not do any stage work in NYC, ever again.And to my knowledge, he never did.

Best thoughts,
John Smetana :cool:
User avatar
John Smetana
 
Posts: 264
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Morganville, NJ

Postby Guest » 02/16/03 08:02 PM

In my estmation, Neff was one of the all time greats,,I saw his big show in the 40s,I am surprised no one has commented on his haunted doll house illusion,,also surprised no one has taken the routine...Nef was a REAL showman I am glad I saw him work.
Guest
 


Return to Magic History and Anecdotes