The Magic Clown TV Show

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.

Postby Gord » 03/25/08 07:06 PM

Clowns are scary, especially in black and white.

HERE

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Postby Spellbinder » 03/26/08 07:04 AM

THAT brought back old memories. My family didn't have a TV, but I would bring my younger brother to join a crowd of kids at a rich neighbor's house to watch it on their TV. After all, that was why they bought one in the first place, to be the first on the block to own a TV, and it served them right that their son suddenly had fifty new friends almost overnight. My brother and the other kids were not interested in the magic, just in the fact that it was one of the only kid shows on TV at the time. I was one of the older kids (20, but in those days, still a minor!), so they expected me to chaperone and keep the screaming down to a minimum. I got my first lessons in crowd control trying to keep a roomful of kids from screaming like the kids on TV.

After the show, I got to do some magic of my own for the kids when the rich kid's mother chased everyone outside onto the lawn. The only kid in the audience who was more interested in magic than me was a scrawny lad of about ten. I always picked him to assist me because he played along, even if he knew how I was doing my trick. Then he always had a trick to show and I played along as his assistant. Pretty soon, the two of us were conspiring to put on our next "after TV" show as a team. I could see that he was better at it than I was, so I decided to let him be the magician and I just played the assistant. That's how I got started as Jim Gerrish's assistant, and our first client was the rich kid's mother who hired us to perform for the kid's birthday party. I think we got paid $10 for the two of us. I gave my half to Jim Gerrish to buy us some better props and we were on our way.
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Postby Nicholas Carifo » 03/27/08 10:02 PM

This early magic series must have predated "The Magic Land of Alakazam", if the date of 1952 here is correct. This link states "The Magic Clown" was a SERIES on NBC.

Would that make this CLOWN, really the first magician to hold a regular magic tv series on national television in America?

Does anyone know the identity of the magician in the clown suit?

I have seen old tapes of magic specials from early tv in the 1950's, as well as magicians appearances on other television shows, variety shows and talk shows... but this is the first i heard of this early series.

Up until now, I thought Mark Wilson was the first magician to hold a regular tv series of magic.

More info please! Very interesting....

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Postby Spellbinder » 03/28/08 02:00 PM

The series apparently started in 1949 and the first performer's name was Zovello. Here's a site which gives a history of the show. Wait until you see the name of the last person to play "Bonomo The Magic Clown" on TV!

http://www.tvparty.com/lostny2bonamo.html
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Postby MaxNY » 03/28/08 08:43 PM

I have a couple of TV clowns that have never hit the streets. One of them has Ricky Dunn doing magic. One episode has a girl rollerskater, I always wanted to track her down via Google, and see if she is still around. I sure do miss Turkish Taffy, I liked the Vanilla or Strawberry.
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Postby JimChristianson » 03/29/08 03:59 PM

It's Fred Kaps. KILLER milk glass switch!

"We love the magic clown,
the swellest show in town.
We swear our unquestioning obedience to him,
And promise to help him bring the government down!
Bonamoooooooo!"
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Postby Nicholas Carifo » 03/29/08 06:10 PM

Are you certain it's Fred Caps? Upon inquiry, Jack Greenberg sent me this clip he researched in Bart Whaley's "Who's Who"... and it identifies Zovello the Clown as a performer named SAM WISHNER:


From Bart Whaley's "Who's Who":

WISHNER, SAM
(USA: fl.1920s-80s) Lived in Brooklyn. Pro magic clown as "Zovello".

Teacher of magic. Invented "Zovelloscopes" (by 1936). New York NBC-TV series as "The Magic Clown" (with his hand-puppet "Laughy") 1949-1951 when replaced by Richard DuBois. Wrote The Manual for Teaching Magic (1983, 103pp). Tricks & dictionary column in HMM. [Se]"


Jack Greenberg, upon research, also wrote me:

"Apparently our clown (Zavello) also spent some time in Florida, and he worked for the New York City Parks Department. If he's still around, I'd estimate that he'd be about 105 years old, having been born in 1902 or 1903."
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Postby Nicholas Carifo » 03/29/08 06:18 PM

So Again... could the original pioneer of a regular weekly magic tv series in America be a clown?

Does anyone know of a magician's series before 1949? That's getting really early for Television.

I'm still trying to picture The Amazing Randi playing the clown in the reprise of this series in the 1970's. That was news to me too!
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Postby MaxNY » 03/29/08 09:11 PM

The Randi stuff might be available thru William McIhany Burbank CA. The Complete Encyclopedia of Television Programs 1947-1976 says that The Magic Clown ran from 1949-1954.
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Postby Simon Aronson » 03/30/08 12:17 AM

This thread brings back (very) old memories -- of my one and only "real" television appearance.

Each week the Magic Clown show featured a different Junior Magician, and at age 15 I appeared on the show in January 1959, doing two minutes. I received a Certificate (which I still have) and an awful lot of Bonomo's Turkish Taffy (which I ate). At that time the show was broadcast in New York on Channel 13 (WNTA), with studios in Newark, New Jersey (my mother had to drive me there). The Producer was Hank Leeds, and the Magic Clown was played by Richard (Dick) DuBois.

There's a fairly detailed history of the show in MAGIC Magazine, August 1998, p. 45.

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Postby Michael Close » 04/01/08 07:02 PM

What's interesting is that Simon performed Everybody's Lazy and Shufflebored.

What's amazing is that he did both of these tricks in two minutes.

What's astonishing is that he wouldn't invent these tricks until many years later. :D

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Postby David Alexander » 04/09/08 07:49 PM

Fun with Felix ran on DuMont in, I believe, 1949. I don't know the month it was broadcast, so I don't know if it went on the air before The Magic Clown. Someone with better resources than I should search.

Felix Greenfield was the magician and Bud Collier (I believe) was the host. I've seen one show and it wasn't bad for early, live television. There was a studio audience and people on stage with Felix as well.
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