Eddie Fields died at age 86

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/01/01 11:03 AM

Sad news: Eddie Fields, the subject of my publication "The Greater Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields" by Jon Racherbaumer, died on Saturday Sept.29 from kidney failure at age 86.
Why don't we celebrate his life and work in this thread by discussing what a clever guy he was! :)
Tom Dobrowolski also posted this message, which gives a different date of death: Eddie Fields (Irving Feldman, February 5, 1915September 30, 2001) died on Sep. 30 at the age of 86. Fields was a well-known close-up magician, mentalist, pitchman, pool hustler, astrologer, and fortuneteller. Most magicians know him from his books "The Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields," "A Life Among Secrets" and "Greater Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields" and the videotape "A Day with Eddie Fields,Reminiscing With The Artful Dodger."

[ October 01, 2001: Message edited by: Richard Kaufman ]
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Postby Steve Bryant » 10/01/01 12:02 PM

Eddie was one of my heroes, thanks largely to Jon Racherbaumer's making him known to us. My final issue of The Little Egypt Gazette was devoted to Eddie and contains much info about him. This is online specifically at http://littleegyptmagic.com/ten97i.htm. When I told Eddie the issue would appear, he planned to view it on a computer at the local fire station. Immediately I received a call from the fire chief. Eddie wanted to know what _time_ the issue would be posted.
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Postby Jim Morton » 10/01/01 02:47 PM

Sad news indeed! I first encountered Fields in Jon Racherbaumer's wonderful book, Greater Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields. Later, I read Stephen Minch's biography, A Life Among Secrets, a book I recommend highly to everyone here. The man led one of the most interesting lives you are likely to encounter. Fields interests often paralleled my own (magic, pool, astrology, and con games), so I had a special fondness for the him. I'm sorry I never got to meet the man.
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Postby Simon Aronson » 10/01/01 08:45 PM

I knew Eddie Fields since 1965, when I first saw him perform two-person mentalism with "Professor" George Martz, in the Chicago Woolworth store. Their demonstration was done as a prelude to the sale of horoscopes -- and I cannot overestimate the inspiration that act gave me. Eddie and George performed their 10-minute act and spiel about twice an hour -- and I basically gave up attending classes at Univ of Chicago for about two months (really), just to go downtown every morning and camp out at Woolworth's to watch them, over and over again. I then spent day after day in the restaurant/bar across from Woolworth's (where George unfortunately would drink his share of their profits) chatting with them about all things mental (and cards with Eddie). Eddie gave me much encouragement in forming my own two person mindreading act, but he didn't give away the particular code they used (it was their bread and butter, and I never asked them for it) but the anecdotes,experiences (and some exaggerations) Eddie had were voluminous.

Keep in mind that their presentation of George's mental powers was not a "class" act; indeed, far better: it didn't come across as an "act" at all! Even though Eddie was the brains and the architect of the act (he had taught it to George), he knew what it took to make it look genuine, namely: it appeared to be simply a one-person act, because Eddie was so innocuous, he blended into the woodwork (or, more accurately, into the Woolworth, because many spectators thought he was simply an employee of the store). He was a master of becoming "invisible" as he moved among the crowd, mumbling first to one person, then another, and occasionally asking George "can you please tell this lady her birthday." He was (in much of what he did, including his cons) the quintessential non-entity -- which was a carefully maintained and cultivated part of his personality, and was a key to his success.

Eddie was a real character, and he "played" you (he played everyone) whenever he talked with you. He always hinted at "more to come", deeper secrets he might reveal, newer methods that only he knew. He enticed, teased, and sometimes he actually had something to reveal. But the con man role was not just an image he could don when he needed it; it was part of his very being. He was always selling the sizzle, but not with a hard sell -- it was just a wink, a smile, a subtle suggestion that there was more, if you only hung around a bit.

And now we'll never know what he might have had to tell ...
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Postby Steve Hook » 10/02/01 12:03 AM

A Life Among Secrets was one of the most interesting biographies I ever read. I even bought it for my dad to read. The Woolworth's stories were overwhelmingly intriguing.

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Postby thecardman » 11/01/01 11:04 AM

I've only just read about Mr Fields' passing and thought that I would ak what may seem either an obvious or rude question.

I, along with Mr Fields, share an obsession with pool and I would like to ask if it really was Mr Fields who came up with the pool table presentation for the Ultra Mental (aka Invisible) Deck?

Anyone else looking for a great magic/pool shot should look at the "Salty Dog Location" (I think that is its name) in the Further Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields.

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