Geoff Latta has Died at Age 51

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/20/08 07:32 PM

With a damn heavy heart I report that my friend Geoff Latta, known around the world as one of the finest close-up card and coin workers, died Tuesday morning at the age of 51 from the effects of alcoholism.

He leaves behind a lot of friends who wished they could have done more to help, but realize that sometimes it's impossible and things just have to play out in their own way.

He also leaves behind a 6 year old daughter, whom he described as the light of his life.

A memorial service will be held this coming Monday, August 25th, at the Greenwich Village (aka Crestwood) Funeral Home located at 199 Bleecker Street in New York City. The service will last from 7 pm to 9 pm. ALL are welcome. His mother would appreciate it if any and all magicians who knew Geoff, or simply admired his work, would come.

The website of the funeral home is here:
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Postby Mallakite » 08/20/08 07:42 PM

I just couldn't believe it when I read the title of the post, Geoff Latta's magic is some of the best and he had so much more to offer, I'am a huge fan of his work, magic has lost one of it's greatest creators, my condolences to his family and relatives, I'am still finding this very hard to accept.
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Postby Jim Martin » 08/20/08 07:44 PM

My condolences to his family on their unfortunate loss. I only know him from his work, which was brilliant.

May he rest in peace.
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Postby bagelsandlox » 08/20/08 07:51 PM

Geoff was a very kind and generous gentleman and will be missed.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/20/08 07:57 PM

I just cannot believe this news. My condolances to his family and many friends.

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Postby Mike Rubinstein » 08/20/08 08:59 PM

Geoff was one of the founding members of our group New York Coin Magic. He was a brilliant technician and thinker, who I have known for over twenty years. Many people have asked why Geoff left our group, but we felt Geoff's problems should not become magician gossip so we never discussed them. Geoff had been battling his demons for a very long time, and after nearly dying a year ago, we had hoped that his prior health scares would push him to find the way. Unfortunately, they did not. He has given the magic world some incredible magic, and many examples of his thinking and brilliant and innovative ideas have been recorded both on DVD and in the literature. Steve Minch was going to put out a book on his work, I am sure that it will be well received. Life takes strange turns sometimes. Geoff had all the ability, and he will be missed both personally, and professionally.
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Postby Darryl Harris » 08/20/08 09:32 PM

Damn... Breaks my heart to see news like this. I really admired Geoff, and he was very kind and most generous with me. Equally talented with with both cards and coins, he was nothing less than brilliant.
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Postby Bill McFadden » 08/20/08 10:38 PM

Yes, it is heartbreaking news. Geoff was a real gentleman, and one of the most inspired artists I have ever met in magic. His creations and innovations have earned him immortality in our little world, and as previously noted, these extend to all of his close-up work. If he'd done nothing other than coins, it would still be true.

Having had the good fortune to spend time with Geoff in Las Vegas and NYC, I always left with the feeling of, "there but for the grace of God go I." That statement is one of the many slogans used in the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous, in which I have been a member for nearly twenty years. My impressions regarding Geoff Latta's struggle with booze were discreetly confirmed by a mutual friend. And yes, the recovering alcoholic wanted to reach out, but until the active alcoholic becomes receptive to the message of hope - which a sober life promises - such outreach is futile.

Had I not stopped drinking at age 35, I know I would never have lived to reach my fifties. Once again, this disease has claimed another victim. Goddammit, I'm so sick and tired of losing people I care about to this insidious (and patient) sickness. It makes for a miserable existence followed by a tragic demise.

My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. Farewell, gentle friend; at last you have found peace.

BTW, if any of you reading this post have misgivings about your own drinking, I am available to listen and empathize 24/7. Please feel free to call me at (410) 320-1143.
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Postby Curtis Kam » 08/20/08 10:50 PM

No words suffice. Magic has lost a demanding artist and a generous friend. We are left with only the product of his labors and the hope that he has found what life and magic did not give him, peace.

Aloha Geoff.
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Postby tedski » 08/20/08 11:04 PM

So sad to hear of this. I met him only once, and he was very generous in helping me. Truly a master. My sincere condolences to his family and freinds
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Postby Bill Duncan » 08/20/08 11:06 PM

COINMAGIC page 122
COINMAGIC page 148
COINMAGIC page 246
The Collected Almanac page 81
The Collected Almanac page 86
Spectacle page 15
Spectacle page 77

Thank you Geoff, for everything, and for the yet to be seen.
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Postby Mike Rubinstein » 08/20/08 11:40 PM

COINvention Inaugural Collection
New York Coin Magic Seminar vol 1,2,3, and 4
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Postby erdnasephile » 08/20/08 11:45 PM

I once emailed Mr. Latta Re: one of his more complex routines.

Even though he didn't know me from Adam, he took the time to send me a remarkably detailed reply (including color photos he took of his own hands) of how to correctly perform a particular move. I was flabbergasted to receive such an amazing gift!

His love for magic, his sincere desire to see his creation performed correctly, and his generosity towards a complete unknown were (and are) truly inspiring to me.

Rest easy, Mr. Latta.
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Postby S. Draun » 08/20/08 11:59 PM

I thought Geoff was one of the best coin guys I ever knew, and I enjoyed his company and passion for magic. I am shocked by his death. Below is a link to a movie of my favorite performance of his.

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Postby Harvey Rosenthal » 08/21/08 12:26 AM

I first met Geoff at the 1983 New York Magic Symposium. We had dinner together the first night and had a great session where I saw Geoff do some of the most amazing coin and card magic I have seen to this day.

He, Tom Gagnon, Mike Gallo and myself spent the next 48 hours having a marathon coin session. We went without any sleep, little food but in that span of time I saw Geoff do his own brand of coin magic that was not only a pleasure to watch but left me clueless. I was already familiar with the great coin magic of Tom Gagnon and Mike Gallo but Geoff was a person I only heard about as being both a great card and coin man. He certainly didn't disappoint.

I will greatly miss him. Magic has lost one of its best.

Rest in peace my friend.
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Postby John Carney » 08/21/08 12:34 AM

geoff was one of the finest sleight of hand thinkers and technicians I have ever seen. I'm so sorry to hear this news.
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Postby castawaydave » 08/21/08 12:37 AM

R.I.P., Mr. Latta.

This last year has been F***ed up.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/21/08 01:07 AM

I just locked the old thread about Latta's book and posted this message:


Geoff's legacy is an important one, and we know there are privately shot videos out there that would be of great help to Stephen Minch in making Geoff's book as complete as possible. Please help if you can. It would have made Geoff very happy.
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Postby Frank Starsinic » 08/21/08 04:52 AM

That's horrible news. May he rest in peace.
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Postby Bill Palmer » 08/21/08 05:00 AM

This is really horrible news. I met Geoff at the TAOM convention in Houston in 2004. We just sat and talked about some of the great performers we had known. He said, "Who do we have now that the Professor and all those guys are gone? Who is carrying that torch?"

I said, "Geoff, it's guys like you, David Roth and so forth."

He seemed to be too modest to accept any accolades for anything he was able to do.

He was a down-to-earth guy, very non-pretentious.

I'm sorry to hear that he is gone.
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Postby Matthew Field » 08/21/08 05:41 AM

Geoff Latta was one of the most creative and accomplished coin and card magicians the world has ever seen.

I met him once, about 10 years ago, up at Tannen's when it was on 24th Street. Richard Kaufman had come into New York City to get a poster framed, and we had lunch. I suggested we visit the shop. When we got up there, Richard yelled, "Geoff!" By some good fortune, Geoff was visiting the shop as well. After Richard's "How are you? Where have you been? Are you back into magic?", he introduced me and asked if Geoff would perform a trick, and Geoff acquiesced. He performed his amazing "Deadlier than the Male" which requires repeated Passes, and I was mesmerized. Geoff said he was a bit rusty, but was getting bak into practicing. He kindly showed me another trick as well.

His passing, especially at such an early age, is a tragedy. He was a good natured, charming man whom I will miss.

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Postby Stan Willis » 08/21/08 08:01 AM

I am saddened by the news of the passing of Geoff Latta. He was truly a Legend and an Expert in the field.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 08/21/08 09:32 AM

There are not many in this craft who have taken excellence as their standard.
There are not many in this craft who can inspire others to excellence by their example or who will direct others to sources where they might start their explorations on solid ground.

Yes he actually passed a table through a coin. He also jokingly crossed the Cylinder and Coins with some bathroom humor with his "dur dur" prop set for that trick. Lots more about his work comes to mind along with much sadness. Perhaps his wonderful restoration sleight for Sawa's spoon trick will see the light of day.

Goodbye Geoff. Thanks for pointing out UBIK and Ramsay and for showing that sleight of hand can produce film style special effects in real life.
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Postby erdnasephile » 08/21/08 10:05 AM

For those that can't go to the funeral or wish to send written condolences:

The website for the funeral home that Richard listed above has a link that allows you to send condolences to the family electronically:
http://www.greenwichvillagefuneralhome. ... lences.htm

If the above link doesn't work for some reason, you can go to the funeral home homepage ,and then click the "condolences" link on the left side.
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Postby David Regal » 08/21/08 10:47 AM

Goeff made infrequent appearances to the NY Saturday restaurant in the 80's, but when he did it was like having a visit from an Olympian. In those days Geoff was pretty dashing. He held a kind of quiet power, like a magical martial arts master, and his voice had a resonance and gravitas that added to that effect. So he was impressive, and dauntingly talented, but bless him, he was equally generous. He went over techniques with anyone who showed a sincere interest (a bunch of us spent an afternoon with him just going over the diagonal palm shift) and in our micro-world where some like to distance themselves from the hoi polloi, there was Goeff showing and teaching magic for anyone who cared to watch and listen, be they fifteen or ninety-five (and as memory serves those ages were represented).

Too many people in magic have had substance problems - I don't know why that is. When I saw Goeff a few years ago, with the coin group, I was shocked, as anyone would be who had seen him back in the day would have been. He was a man who had gone through changes, and he did not look well. It seemed that he was carrying a burden.

We are all beneficiaries of Geoff's kindness and talents. I hope he has found a peace.
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Postby Dan Magyari » 08/21/08 12:00 PM

My sincerest condolences to Geoff's family and friends.
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Postby Kenardo » 08/21/08 12:13 PM

I only met Geoff a few times - each time many years apart. He said that he always remembered me,and he always answered any questions I had about his effects and techniques. He was passionate about his magic and a true gentlemen. However, the last time I saw him, his biggest smile came about when we talked about his recent child. My sincerest condolences to his family.
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Postby John Carey » 08/21/08 01:27 PM

R.I.P Mr Latta.

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Postby Danny Archer » 08/21/08 02:02 PM

So sad to hear this... Geoff will be missed by many... his talent for magic was awe-inspiring... but he will live on in print and video for as long as close-up magic exists...

my condolences to his friends and his family...
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Postby Jim Maloney » 08/21/08 02:10 PM

I met Geoff exactly once, several years ago, at Michael Canick's place where he showed up with David Roth for a lecture given by Paul Wilson. (Sorry, I'm not trying to name-drop here, honest...)

Geoff was soft-spoken and humble. Luckily a friend of mine who was a bit more persistent than I persuaded Geoff to show off his pass. To say he was as smooth as butter isn't quite right. Butter wishes it could be that smooth.

As an example of how Geoff could streamline and cut out the excess nonsense, check out this Shuffle Sequence for Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

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Postby Bill Wells » 08/21/08 05:41 PM

Geoff was one of our brightest and finest.

We are truly blessed that he allowed his genus to touch magic during the few years he spent with us.

My sincere sympathy to his family and my deepest hope that he has finally found true peace.
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Postby Jim Martin » 08/22/08 09:23 PM

Jim Maloney wrote: As an example of how Geoff could streamline and cut out the excess nonsense, check out this Shuffle Sequence for Out of Sight, Out of Mind.


Geoff Latta wrote: FWIW, critical responses are more valuable to me than positive ones, as I never learned anything from those who agree with me.



I've just re-read the six page post and was struck by both the wisdom of Geoff Latta and the civility of the discourse.

Both are rare.
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Postby Mike Rubinstein » 08/23/08 10:25 AM

Rannie Raymundo put together this tribute.Please watch and remember a great talent:
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/23/08 03:54 PM

Nicely done. Thanks for sharing it.
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Postby David Nethery » 08/26/08 03:18 PM

Sad news . I never knew him , but I am struck by the outpouring of grief for his untimely passing. My condolences to his family and friends .

In addition to the video tribute that Rannie Raymundo posted , those of you who knew him well should check out Tom Frank's magic blog for a photo of Geoff in happier times:

Geoff Latta Photo

As I said, I didn't know him personally , but I love seeing the look of pure joy radiating on his face in that photo . You can see that he's in his element .
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/26/08 04:10 PM

The woman to Geoff's left in that photo is Bunny Collins, whom he was dating at the time.
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Postby Tom Frank » 08/26/08 04:32 PM

How was the memorial last night? I'd have liked to have been there.
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Postby KirkG » 08/26/08 08:15 PM

I am so sorry to hear this. I was completely stunned to read it when I came to the site today. I knew he was in ill health, but didn't realize it was so serious.

I met him at the LVMI Coinvention and again at the New York Coin symposium that came to Las Vegas and he was always very helpful and giving.

This is a great loss to his family and the magic world. My heart goes out to his young daughter who may not realize what a giant in this field he was.

This has been a very tough year for the magic fraternity regarding untimely deaths.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/26/08 10:37 PM

And the year isn't over yet.
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Postby Doug Thornton » 08/27/08 01:25 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:The woman to Geoff's left in that photo is Bunny Collins, whom he was dating at the time.

Bunny is Professor Collins' (Ted Collins) daughter.
He ran Mecca Magic in North New Jersey (it's now closed).

You can find him in your Tarbell. He was also an influence / mentor for David Kotkin - also in Tarbell - who became Copperfield.

Bunny used to demo at the shop and she was pretty darn good.

My condolences to Geoff's family and friends.
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