Bob Read Died

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Postby Todd Karr » 11/20/05 03:23 PM

Very sad to be the bearer of bad news. Bob Read died today of a heart attack while vacationing in California with his wife Pauline.

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of driving he and Pauline around LA, visiting John Gaughan, Max Maven, and Carl Ballantine. He had a marvelous time and was looking forward to continuing his visit in the US.

Bob was a superb performer, a master of misdirection, an achingly funny humorist, a great writer, and the world's top authority on the history of the Cups and Balls as depicted in prints and artworks.

I had the honor of collaborating with Bob on The Annals of Conjuring in 2001. His humorous essays on the mysterious magic historian Arthur Watson and magic items in The Spectator were brilliant scholarship and fine humor mixed together.

Bob had just lectured at the LA Conference on Magic History and all attendees are, I'm sure, grateful to have had a few last moments with this extraordinary man.

Love and best wishes to Pauline, his partner of three decades.
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Postby Pete Biro » 11/20/05 06:39 PM

The saddest of sad messages... one of the greatest of all guys... :( :( :( :( :(
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Postby Bill Palmer » 11/20/05 06:48 PM

I posted about this elsewhere.

Meeting Bob was one of the highlights of the Magic Circle Centenary for me. The huge amount of work he had done on graphic represenations of the cups and balls was, well, phenomenal. He allowed me to take one of the sections up to my room and keep it overnight.

We corresponded by e-mail after that, and I sent him the props he needed to start doing his Penultimate Cups and Balls again.

I hope that his project on the cups and balls does not get lost. It would be a real shame. The book would be an appropriate monument to him.
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Postby Bill Wells » 11/20/05 06:52 PM

This is very, very sad news. Bob Read was one of the funniest human beings I have ever seen and a wonderful person. He and Pauline were a great pair and tremedous host and hostess to any who visited London. I shall truly miss him.

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Postby Guest » 11/20/05 07:39 PM

I was very sad to hear this news. Is it fair that someone like this passes so soon, when enough people don't know how great he was? I considered Bob a really good friend...

It just is not fair for him to be erased from the new generation of magicians who can't know how great he was.

This is very unfortunate.

The greatest thing in the world was for me to go back to England, look Bob up, meet with him at the pub and have a beer. That is going to be my greatest loss- just sitting down with him and hearing Bob Read's great stories over a pint, in England.

May you rest in peace you great man.

Your friend,

Postby Richard Hatch » 11/20/05 08:34 PM

Bob was that rare combination of skilled technician and gifted entertainer. Not to mention a very warm and generous human being. I can't help thinking at this sad moment of a line he used in his knife through coat routine, when looking over the piece of newspaper, supposedly the obituary section:
"Have you ever noticed how people seem to die in alphabetical order?"
Not today, alas...
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Postby Guest » 11/20/05 08:57 PM

I met Bob a couple of years ago when he lectured in Chicago. I'll never forget watching him spend a full minute or two folding a big sheet of newspaper while dancing around and engaging the audience in a sing-along of "Paper Doll." After we'd done a verse and chorus, Bob had that piece of paper folded down to matchbook size. We all waited for him to unfold the paper and show us a paper doll. Instead, he bent over and shoved the folded piece of paper underneath the table leg. Later, he accidentally stole his own watch. It was the funniest lecture I've ever seen.

Postby NCMarsh » 11/20/05 09:18 PM

Shocking news -- this happened too early.

It is fortunate, at the very least, that the Genii tribute issue exists so that those of us who never had the chance to meet Bob have some sense of who he was; the enormous talent and what sounded like a boundless joie de vivre. I wish I had the oppurtunity to spend time with him and am tremendously thankful for the pieces of himself that he has left behind.

Deepest condolences to his friends and loved ones.

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Postby Pete Biro » 11/20/05 09:28 PM

One of the great moments in Desert Seminar History was when Bob entered one of the Challenges... Like all competitions there was a time limit and there was a light bulb that went from yellow to red to signify "time up."

Bob was doing his Penultimate Cups and Balls and right in the middle of the routine someone went out an "alarmed" exit door. The noise from this and the interruption gave Bob a chance to do his usual ad libs, gags, etc. and he was knocking 'em dead...

Suddenly the yellow light came on and Bob was maybe 5 or 6 minutes short of finishing...

He immdiately whipped off his jacket and threw it over the lights...

This had to get another SOLID two minute laugh... Bob went on and tore the place up with his humor.

He was bulletproof when working... nothing could bother him.

He will sadly be missed by those that know him and it is so sad that so many will never get so see someone with the genius of Bob Read.

His collection will live on and our memories cannot be taken away.

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Postby Bill Duncan » 11/20/05 09:33 PM

I never got to meet the gentleman but I still can recall reading his notes on his Penultimate Cups And Balls routine twenty or so years ago and laughing my ass off.

Those who don't know the name are advised to locate a copy of the recent Genii issue that featured him. It's a pure joy to read about such a wonderful performer.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 11/20/05 10:00 PM

In 1997, Bob Read was the opening lecturer at the Winter Carnival of Magic in Gatlinburg. His was the Thursday night spot, 3 hours -- "An Evening With Bob Read."

It was the first magic convention I ever attended, and the first lecture in magic I ever saw. I hurt myself laughing. What a way to start a hobby.
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Postby magicam » 11/20/05 10:40 PM

First off, my condolences to Bobs loved ones.

Bob and I were not close friends, but I remember well Bobs kind hospitality after receiving a call from me out of the blue in August, 1996 (hed never met me), and his taking the entire afternoon off to talk magic history and show me a portion of his wonderful collection of prints at his home. I remember leaving his house and thinking, among other things, now theres a guy who I could learn a lot from. Over the years, we communicated on and off irregularly, and Bob never failed to be gracious and generous with his time and knowledge.

At the Conference on Magic History a couple of weeks ago, when we greeted one another at its start, Bob said, Lets get together, Clay. Ive got some information for you. Regretfully, as often happens at this sort of get-together, our schedules never meshed and we didnt get to chat. I thought Id see him next year during a visit to the U.K. Another grim reminder not to take things for granted.

Well miss you, Bob. Thank you for your great contributions to magic and magic history.

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Postby Kevin Fox » 11/21/05 01:57 AM

I,m sat in my study shocked @the news, I spoke to bob just before he went to the US & as always he was in top form. He sent me a copy of his London walk around & we spoke about some personal
He recently gave me his last copy Of THANKS TO PEPYS I had the first one but some one did'nt return it so he gave me the last one to replace it, we were very close for 30 years,if pauleen is still in the US & some one is in contact with her could they give her my e:mail address so I can give her any assistance of any kind (with tears in my eyes )Kevin Fox
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Postby Anthony Brahams » 11/21/05 02:31 AM

Shocked at the tragic news of Bob's passing. Chatted with him at TMC Dealers' Day only two weeks ago, just before he left for the USA, and Jill and I were delighted to be at the same table as him and Pauline at a big birthday party earlier this year.

The wonderful memories include many times performing on chairs at the Anemos Restaurant, evenings at the Malborough and being in the audience for the last close-up show of the Circle Centenary where we were very happy that he over-ran as he gave possibly the greatest performance I had seen from him.

"We shall not see his like again" is a most appropriate quote for his kindness, humour, ability, knowledge and friendship with so many. Let us hope that Pauline can know not just that so many magicians admired Bob for his talent but had such respect and warm feelings for him as a person.
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Postby John Carey » 11/21/05 02:50 AM

Another one of the true giants departs.

BOB Read one of a kind.

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Postby Matthew Field » 11/21/05 06:32 AM

One sign of the stature of a man is the void left by his death. By that criterion, Bob Read was a giant.

I was fortunate to become friendly with Bob since moving to the U.K. last year. We chatted on the phone, dined together, had a few drinks together, and even strolled around London a bit. Each of these was an unforgettable experience.

Bob had completed an article for the January Magic Circular on a medieval book called De Sphaera, and we had spent some time working on this prior to his departure for L.A. There were other projects in the works which will, sadly, never see the light of day.

About a week before Bob left London, we were walking by the Magic Circle Headquarters (Bob was no longer a member) and he was talking about his newspaper hat routine. He said that whatever else he did in a performance, doing the hats provided closure and made it look like an actual routine (instead of a collection of "bits").

I disagreed. I told him that what made his bits of business a routine was his personality and the experience of thousands of performances.

As usual when I complimented him, he just shrugged it off.

He was magnificent at The Magic Circle Centenary this past July.

My condolences to Pauline.

This is a tough one for me.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/21/05 08:47 AM

This is a tough one for us all.
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Postby Tom Dobrowolski » 11/21/05 09:56 AM

When Bob Read lectured here in Chicago a couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to be with a small group that went out to eat with him after the terrific lecture/performance. We went to the only place near by that was open which was a Denny's. I had the good fortune to be sitting next to him there. We talked about magic, performing, comedy, magic history and life in general. It was one of the true highlights of my magic journey over the last 36 years. I will never forget that evening or the man.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 11/21/05 10:08 AM

I loved him when he came to one of the Desert Magic Seminars. The convention was at the Tropicana, and he was staying across the street at New York, New York. "They have a swimming pool on the 86th floor," he said. "Do you know how DEEP that is?"
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Postby Tabman » 11/21/05 10:36 AM

So sorry to hear. He was way too young but like many in magic he has left a legacy and will be remembered for a long time.

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Postby Guest » 11/21/05 11:04 AM

Unfortunately, I never met him. But a couple of years back I was doing some research into magical history and a mutual friend suggested that Mr Read was the man to consult for what I required. A few days later an email arrived from him asking how he could help. The tone was as if he'd known me all his life, and his kindess and warmth demonstrated to me why so much respect was afforded to him.

Not meeting him in person so that I could shake his hand and thank him is of deep regret to me.

A great magician and a great human being.

Postby Dustin Stinett » 11/21/05 12:02 PM

It isnt too often that I find myself unable to find words, but this is one of those times. My condolences to Pauline and the rest of Bobs family and friends.

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Postby Guest » 11/21/05 01:31 PM

My thoughts and prayers are with Pauline. I'm so glad I got hear his wonderful talk on tracking down Arthur Watson at the magic history conference just over a week ago. :(

Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/21/05 01:31 PM

Bob gave a lecture in Chicago a few years ago, and Mona Santow was there to photograph it:
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Postby Jacky Kahan » 11/21/05 02:03 PM

It's a real sad moment...
I've met Bob almost everytime when i went to the London MacMillan Convention.. It was always a great pleasure discussing with him magic and mainly old engravings related to magic ... he even knew the great places in Belgium where we might find them ...
Anyway, it's a great loss for the magic community,

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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 11/21/05 04:06 PM

As the heartfelt comments posted so far on this Forum attest, Bob not only touched thousands of magicians and lay people around the world, his merry soul penetrated our hearts and minds in a deeper, more memorable way. He was indeed sui generis...which I said to him in passing one day...

He gave me one of those great quizzical, deadpan looks of his and said:

"Does that go good with sake?"

When I heard the dreadful news I dug out the Genii cover story and gazed at the photos of Bob,
who always seemed to be caught in the middle of something joyous. He was one of the funniest and nicest guys I ever met. My heart goes out to his lady, Pauline...

As Matt and Richard has said, "This is a tough one."

Really tough.
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Postby Guest » 11/21/05 08:17 PM

Bob helped me with a research project in college. It focused on the psychology of magic and its influences cross-culturally. It focused specifically on the cups and balls as the epitome of misdirection and psychological. Bob taught me so much about the cups and balls--and so much on the history of the trick. I never met him, but through SO many e-mails and phone conversations, I considered him to be a friend.

My thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. This is a depressing day in the world of magic.
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Postby Guest » 11/22/05 03:24 PM

I have been a friend of Bob and Pauline for over 35 years and today I am saddened and shocked by his sudden death. I was with him last just 3 weeks ago just prior to he trip to LA. He was very excited about his forthcoming lecture. I would spend 2-3 hours with him and he would carefully rehearse his next talk, lecture, 'tall tale,' funny story with me. I heard them all and never tired of them. 'Things' just happened to Bob Read - or did he make them happen. I was priveleged to video his post Magic Circle Centenary London Walk - and I was just looking at it yesterday - not knowing that I would not see him again. He and Pauline supported my wife and I when both our son and daughter died separately over the past 15 months and we now offer out support to Pauline. God bless you my friend - may you rest in peace!

Postby Guest » 11/23/05 01:58 PM

Bob was a regular visitor to Cyprus and I had the honour of sharing some of those times with him and Pauline. He had so many interesting stories to tell about happenings in his life that as soon as he had finished telling one event you made sure the wine glass was never empty so he would continue with more. I would like to relate one of his happenings, as I remembered it;
Bob had made many attempts to visit and view a rare set of cups & ball, situated in Istanbul's museum, without success. Over many months, he continued to phone the museum and eventually they gave him the name & telephone number of the Professor who was the expert on these artefacts. (I will call him Professor X as his Turkish name
would have been hard to write - that's if I had remembered it!) Bob spent further months trying to contact him with no luck. Eventually
he got back to the museum and they apologised saying the professor had moved and gave Bob his new telephone number. As Bob was off abroad, it was another month or so before he was able to contact the Professor. It was now nearly a year since his first contact with the museum. Bob rang the Professor and the first two lines of the conversation were;
Bob Read: "Is that Professor X?"
Professor: You are Bob Read.

Postby Pete Biro » 11/23/05 04:57 PM

... and ???
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Postby Jeffrey Cowan » 11/23/05 05:52 PM

Bob Read was one of the modern masters at performing for laymen whom I never managed to see in person but whose writings and performances on video I found invaluable.

He also was exceptionally helpful and forthcoming after receiving an unsolicited email from me seeking additional information regarding a fine point in an effect of his that was published in his "Genii issue" in 2004.

I'll miss Bob, and I never even was lucky enough to meet or talk to him.
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Postby Roger Woods » 11/27/05 11:51 AM

I had the privilege of meeting Bob Read on several occasions chatting in depth about magic history, seeing him lecture and witnessing some hilarious performances. He was one of a kind and will be missed. His "Magical London" map produced just in time for The Magic Circle Centenary in July, 2005 is a real labour of love over many years.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 08/29/09 04:59 PM

While searching for something else, I ran across an obit of Bob Read in a UK textiles trade journal. Clearly he meant as much to laypeople with whom he worked as he did to us magicians. LINK ( p. 3)

Bob Reid [sic] has died after giving a lifetime of energy, enthusiasm and ideas to the carpet industry. His engaging and endearing approach means he will be leaving many friends for whom his memory will be enduring.

Bob was one of the big personalities of the carpet business. Diane Martin, director of The Stocklists, heard from Bob almost every month: 'His sense of humour and pure enthusiasm brightened up many days. He was always full of ideas and loved the flooring business - he said he used to go to bed thinking of carpets and wake up thinking of carpets!

Starting out as a Carpet Salesman for John Barnes and Company and the John Lewis Partnership, Bob then joined The International Wool Secretariat (IWS) where, for more than 20 years, he was responsible for the inclusion of wool into domestic and contract carpeting under the Wooltweed label. Working closely with yarn suppliers, spinners, carpet manufacturers and retailers, Bob fueled the demand for 80/20 products seeing a dramatic growth in the consumption of wool in carpets around the world.

Recognising the need for the industry to raise its profile with both consumer and trade alike Bob teamed up with friend and colleague Robin Hall to establish the PR and marketing business, Select First Limited. Uniquely they demonstrated how competing companies in the same sector could work together to raise the image of carpets in the trade and consumer press and retail presence. Their profound knowledge of the industry and creative approach resulted in major product promotions such as the bringing together of the V & A Museum, Chatsworth House and Ryalux Carpets.

More recently Bob took a back seat at Select First, passing the company onto, as he would say youth and energy. However, Bob continued to fuel his love to the carpet sector by providing valuable support in a consulting role at Select First.

Those who know Bob will remember his less than formal dress code and his unique way of captivating anyone with great stories and his special talent magic. As a member of the Magic Circle, Bob was regarded as one of the worlds premier magicians and he will be missed by the many who fell under his spell.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/29/09 05:25 PM

I still can't quite get it into my head that Bob is dead, even though it's coming up on four years.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/29/09 05:40 PM

When I saw the subject in the active posts, my heart skipped a beat. Then I remembered that Bob has been gone for a while. Given he was one of your best friends, I can only imagine how you felt when you saw it.
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Postby Matthew Field » 08/30/09 05:07 AM

After the New York radio station I ran was sold, I become the advertising director for a big NYC carpet and rug retailer. We worked closely with the Wool Bureau, which promoted wool of New Zealand with the "Woolmark".

When I moved to the UK and befriended Bob, whom I had met at the Kaufmans' wedding, we spent quite a few hours talking about this aspect of our lives. As always. Bob was full of great stories. Here's one:

Bob was taking a group of carpet people and their spouses on a junket tour to the U.S. He decided to make the destination Hollywood and to use the budget to book everyone (there were about 10) for an evening at The Magic Castle. Unfortunately, he forgot about the dress code.

The group showed up and one woman was in slacks. The receptionist apologetically said the woman could not go in. This was a group of important customers and Bob would have been embarrassed, or worse, criticized to his employers, possibly jeopardizing the contract he held with them.

Thinking quickly, he asked the receptionist how many people there were, and how many women. Eleven people, five women. How many men? Six. How many pairs of trousers? Six. So we can go in, yes? Yes.

Bob had realized that one of the men was wearing a kilt.

I loved the guy.

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