I want to thank Ron Wilson for allowing me to republish his book, Charlie Miller on the Card Index, written by Ron Wilson and Charlie Miller, originally published by Magic Inc. Ron & Charlies book is excellent and a good source of material for those wanting to use a card index. In my endeavor to document the card index used by Jimmy Grippo I have added new material to their edition that I hope the reader will appreciate.
In their book they relay a story about the Great Maurice. His method of using the inside breast pocket of his suit is exactly how Jimmy Grippo used his own index. I believe that there is a connection between Grippo and Maurice. Maurice performed at society functions doing magic and mentalisim while in the Miami, Florida area. Grippo had a lounge in the Seagull Hotel on Collins Avenue in Miami. They probably met at some time.
In the August, 1939 issue of The Jinx Ted Annemann wrote about Grippo. Jimmy Grippo, S.A.M. er, and manager of Melio Bettino (sic) the new ex-light-heavyweight champion, is a hypnotist who put the works on his fighter before bouts. His best line of suggestion to Bettinos subconscious mind is, He cant hurt us. After the recent meeting between Bettino and Billy Conn in N.Y. it was discovered that Conn had hurt just about everybody within the radius of a mile. Jimmy is in the market for some new mesmeric passes.
Just before this mention of Grippo in Annemanns column was pasted a copy of a small ad that was placed in the Billboard on May 27, 1939. It reads: I AM A JACK OF ALL TRADES. My line of work is Magic, Hypnotism and entertainment. Would like working for stage group or alone. Will consider $8.50 a week, no less. Want a job within 30 miles of Cincinnati. Also magic helper. MAURICE DRAKE, 16 W. 10th St., Covington, Ky. At the time Covington, Kentucky was the gambling capital of the area with first class casinos that catered to the upper class as well as the working class. This may have been the reason The Great Maurice was looking for work in the area.
Note that in Millers book, Maurice last name isnt given other than being referred to as The Great Maurice, a French magician. In the next reference there is a possible link to Maurice as Grippo says he performs with sleight-of-hand, hypnosis Jimmy came from Beacon, New York. As reported in the Jinx, isuue #145, August, 1941, Ted Annemann wrote, Jimmy Grippo is an eastern fight manager with Melio Bettina, former light-heavyweight champion, under his wing, or should I say eye. He reaps as much columnar mention as his fighter almost, for he, Grippo, is said to have hypnotized and auto suggested his man into ring prominence. We quote part of an interview, I make enough money at Palm Beach every winter to carry me for the rest of the year, Mr. Grippo reveals. I got 200 bucks for a 20-minute performance of sleight-of-hand stuff, hypnosis and assorted magic. The same act in a New York night club brings in about 300 bucks a week for three shows a night. At this time I am writing a book on magic and mind reading and when it is published I will go on a lecture tour. I am, of course, a member of the Society of American Magicians. When his fighter lost the title, Grippo explained, The trouble was I couldnt get Conn (the winner) into a quiet place and submit him to hypnosis. Besides, it wouldnt have been ethical to use my powers for such sordid purposes. It was reported that Conn refused to look Grippo in the eye at the weighing in ceremonies for fear of being evil-eyed.
I first became acquainted with Jimmy Grippo in the late 60s while I was working in the Dunes baccarat pit. He was a friend of many people at the Dunes Hotel and would stop in the evening after working at Caesars Palace and do a few tricks right on the baccarat table. I would always miss him, because of my day off or working hours.
Then I decided to go to Caesars and meet him. I made reservations in the Bacchanal Room where Jimmy performed by request. He stayed at my table for almost two hours and that was a beginning of a wonderful friendship. I was in awe of his magic and could not believe my eyes. His talent with cards, coins, and other items, coupled with his unique personality, were beyond belief. I had never seen a close-up magician of this caliber.
Jimmys master of the card index was one of his greatest feats. I watched and watched. I couldnt catch a clue. Other friends of mine who watched him posed the theory that he was using a card index. Yes, but what kind? How was it made? I asked myself many questions. I never could get the right answers.
I searched every magic book available to me and found very little information on the index, other than a line drawing sketch of the apparatus. I dont believe I ever found an actual photograph of the item. I found a set indexes for sale from Supreme in England. I purchased them and found out very quickly that Mr. Grippo could not be using this sort of contraption. His method was too smooth and too quick.
Jimmy would always invite me to Caesars in the evening to hang around with him at the Palace Court, one of the most lavish restaurants at Caesars Palace. Many nights he would allow me to entertain guests for him, if he had to go to a special request performance in the hotel.
Morrie Jaeger a casino boss at Caesars recently told me a Jimmy Grippo story that would have been lost forever. A Caesars Palace casino employee found an unusual card holding device in one of the many public restrooms in Caesars. The floormans first inclination that this holder was left in the restroom by mistake and probably for sure was a cheating device that a card mucker would use in the casino. Card mucking is a cheating method for switching cards. The floorman thought for sure he was on to something, especially since the holder had regulation Caesars Palace cards in place.
Jaeger was notified and examined the device. Neither he nor any other experience casino personnel could identify its use. So he called Jimmy Grippo asking him for his input. Alas Jimmy put their fears to rest. He had left it in the restroom.
I would pick Jimmy up at his home and take him to the hotel and then take him home. It was one of the biggest thrills of my life. One evening, Jimmy grabbed his jacket and actually had the index in his hand. For the first time in my life, I could see the index.
I almost did not want to look. I felt like I had breached an ancient oath. Jimmy was not phased in any way and just went about his business and put it in his jacket. That was that. I only saw it on one other occasion for about 15 seconds. It then took almost six years for me to figure out this ingenious piece of apparatus.
I studied every article on the index that was available to me. In Greater Magic (page 900) there is an effect by Bert Gustafson, MIND READING WITH THE FINGERTIPS. Gustafson describes an index gimmick made from envelopes. The envelopes held playing cards. I thought this concept might possibly work if the envelopes were stacked a little differently. Instead of stacking them horizontally, I stepped them vertically and trimmed them to the size of the playing cards. Fig. The first index I made was very thin, however it rested too deep inside my upper inside (left) jacket pocket so I attached a bottom spacer to lift the cards to just below the opening of the pocket.
I have explained the construction and style of the Grippo index and the difference
An interesting note: When Jimmy died, I was in Japan performing for a Japanese industrialist. I did not hear about his passing until I returned. His maid called me and I expressed my deep sorrow. I asked if I could have a bow tie to keep as a memory of Jimmy. She said that everything was taken to the Hadassah (a Jewish type thrift store) the day before. I immediately went to the store and found three of Jimmy's jackets. I reached inside one of the pockets and pulled out a 5 of Clubs with a Caesars Palace back. I said and looked to the heavens...Thank you God. If I had not have found these jackets, many of his secrets would be lost forever.
Grippo's work was not so simple, and his gimmick(s) are perfect. No one has had the slightest clue on his index and it took me almost six years to figure it out. And when I did, I was still wrong. Close but wrong. This effect is a mind blower and that is why it still is a secret. Any pocket index you have seen on the market is basically useless compared to Jimmy's.
The Jimmy Grippo index is truly an incredible piece of apparatus that every card worker and magician should own and learn. It makes a simple thought of card effect a miracle. The index is simple yet will remain a mystery on how it works to even those who know how a typical card index works.