John Goodrum

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

Postby Bill Mullins » 01/30/05 12:36 PM

Magician John Goodrum passed away last November. He was 86.

I was not familiar with him, or his magic. I learned of him after a bunch of magic books appeared in our local library bookstore. Many of them bore his name. Fellow Huntsville magician (and also a forum member) Russell Davis and I guessed that someone must have passed away, and Russell located his widow. He had been sick (we don't know what his illness was), and in putting his affairs in order, he took his magic library to the bookstore.

He had not been particularly active in magic since he lived in Huntsville. He came here in the 1950's to be a part of Wernher von Braun's rocket team, and was a fairly big wheel at Marshall Space Flight Center until he retired in 1974. Don Spurrier, a Huntsville "old-timer" in magic, knew him, and tried to get him involved in the (then) new Space City Magic Club, and in the SEAM that was hosted here in the 1960's, but it didn't come to pass. I called the IBM about him and he kept his membership active until 1970.

His biggest magic contributions were two books -- "You'd Be Surprised" co-written with Robert Parrish in 1938, and "Now You See It...Magic with a New Twist" from 1946. He also wrote a biography of von Braun, and a travel book called "Rivers of Alabama". He had several articles published in "Travel" magazine and "Popular Science". "You'd Be Surprised" came about after he and Parrish met via mail, in one of the magic correspondence clubs that have long since vanished. They put the book together completely by mail.

Apparently he became interested in magic (as did many) as a youth, but kept his interest into his adulthood. Many of his books were English editions, bought, I suppose, during the war while he was stationed in England. The most recent book I saw was a Jeff Busby publication from the 1980s, so he stayed a hobbyist, if not a performer, through much of his life.

I'd be interested in hearing from anyone on the Forum who ever knew or interacted with Mr. Goodrum.
Bill Mullins
Posts: 3290
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Huntsville, AL

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