Earle Oakes has Died

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/18/11 04:33 PM

Very sad news today. I just got a call from Helen Oakes to tell me that her husband Earle died yesterday from a massive stroke. He didn't suffer.

Earle lived a long happy life, to age 88, married to a lovely woman and with many children and grandchildren.

He was, in my opinion, the finest illustrator of magic books, and he drew countless thousands of hands, all with loving care. His final illustrations will appear in the November issue of Genii.

Farewell, my friend.

There will be a funeral in Philadelphia on Wednesday morning.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 09/18/11 08:47 PM

It is sad news. End of an era. I'll certainly miss his unmistakable art.

Richard, I don't think I realized Earle was that old. When did he begin illustrating magic books?

The first I remember seeing was Racherbaumer's column in MAGIC and then Jennings 67. Was he older when he began ddoing magic books?
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/18/11 09:50 PM

Very sad. I never met him, but we traded a few letters--actual letters--and not only did he have handwriting that one could read, there was always a small origami figure glued to the stationery. A little touch of class from a classy and talented man.

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Postby Jim Martin » 09/18/11 09:54 PM

I hope his family knows how much he added to our art. His work in illustration was always perfect - elegantly drawn, the right angle, the wonderful moment captured, etc.

Additionally I enjoyed his posts on this forum - understated, knowledgeable, polite and to the point. He will be missed.

Thanks you Earle -
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Postby Frank Yuen » 09/18/11 09:56 PM

Very sad. Like Ryan I hadn't realized he was that old. I'm in the process of putting in new book shelves. I think I'll pull a few down and revisit his work. My condolences to his family and friends.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 09/18/11 10:03 PM


According to Chuck Ramono's book Art of Deception: Mr. Oakes started doing magic illustrating part time in 1980 (he did architectural renderings as a profession). He went fulltime in 1987, doing work for The Linking Ring. In 1990, his work was published in Pages from Patrick's Notebook (Pat Page) and several other books published by Martin Breese. His first project for Richard was Secrets Draun from Underground (1993).

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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 09/18/11 11:00 PM

Earle Oakes was so superb on many levels. I rank him among the top three illustrators of all time, not only in his skill, style, innovations, and absolute and steadfast pursuit of excellence, but for his amazing prolificacy. We collaborated on several books and he did over 950 illustrations for my column in MAGIC. When his quantitative contribution to our magic literature is tallied, his legacy will be celebrated to the degree it deserves. Beyond that, Earle was a true gentleman. I never heard him utter an unkind word and he inevitably found what was good and decent in every person and thing.

He was with us 88 years. During that time he gave us much to use, praise, and remember. I wrote an appreciation of Earle in Magic (November - 1999, titled "Butterflies Are Freed." Chuck Romano wrote another in The Linking Ring (March - 1996). Check them out. I often said that Earle reminded me of a Renaissance word--"illumination," where "light is thrown on subjects to see them better." Earle wanted to represent, as Wittgenstein suggested, the sense of sentences in his drawings. His art quickened lackluster exposition. He made the "dead butterflies" of methodology come alive and flutter off the page. They then flew into human consciousness--if not to stay, at least stir.

RIP, Earle.
You will definitely be missed.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/18/11 11:28 PM

Funeral information for those who can attend:

Relatives and friends are invited to attend his viewing on Tuesday evening from 7:00-9:00pm at Stuard Funeral Home, 104 Cricket Avenue, Ardmore PA.

The funeral service will be at 11am on Wednesday, preceded by a viewing at 10am, at Christ Church, 536 Conestoga Road, Villanova PA.
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Postby Chuck Romano » 09/18/11 11:45 PM

Earle was not only a great illustrator, he was a wonderful human being. I spoke with him often by phone and letters when I was writing The Art of Deception. He seemed to be a kind and gentle man. We kept in touch over the years, but unfortunately we never met. I devoted 9 pages to Earle's art and life in my book.

Earle's first nationally published illustration was for a Max Maven Parade in The Linking Ring (1987).

He was married over sixty years to his wife Helen and was a wonderful family man. He was the eldest of 10 siblings.

In 1995 he was busy doing many illustrations for books and magazines. He wrote me, "...life continues full of deadlines and interesting assignments. I am having a great time with this wonderful new direction my illustrating has taken."

RIP, Earle. You have left a great gift to the world of magic. I will miss you.

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Postby Leonard Hevia » 09/19/11 01:54 AM

Two days ago I paged through Krenzel and Minch's Relaxed Impossibilities and kept shaking my head in wonderment at Mr. Oakes' beautiful art. He was so prolific that it was hard not to take him for granted. It was easy to think that he would be here for many more years, contributing many more illustrations.
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Postby Matthew Field » 09/19/11 05:04 AM

Earle Oakes was a superb artist, a man who left magic with a fasbulous legacy.

I met Earle at Richard Kaufman's wedding, and we spent quite a bit of time chatting. We corresponded a bit over the intervening years. I did him a couple of small favors and his thanks were effusive.

I will miss his bright disposition and ready humor. Even more, I will miss his wonderful drawings which made descriptions of magic so much easier to comprehend.

My deepest condolences to his family.

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Postby Bob Farmer » 09/19/11 09:33 AM

Earle was a great guy. I had many conversations with him over the years. I always sent him tricks I'd invented that I thought he might like. One day, out of the blue, I received from Earle a beautiful version of one of these tricks, something I'd never be able to replicate myself. It was so unexpected, but Earle was that sort of wonderful person, a guy with a twinkle in his eye.
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Postby JimAlfredson » 09/19/11 12:16 PM

Just read of Earle Oakes' passing, and am truly saddened. I first met Earle years ago when was researching the life of Jean Hugard. Earle contacted me and wondered if I'd be interested in some Ms. pedagogical material that had belonged to 'Roberta' [Byron]who had been a student of Hugard's, and said he'd be happy to present me with it. I was delighted to say the least, and the material proved valuable to the subsequent book. This was the first of many favors, all performed with Earle's grace and charm. We kept in touch over the years, and magic will truly miss this remarkable man.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/19/11 02:05 PM

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Postby erdnasephile » 09/19/11 02:12 PM

What a great talent, and such a sad loss.

My sincere condolences to Mrs. Oakes and to those of who knew him.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/19/11 09:24 PM

You can leave a message of condolence on the guest book here:
http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/philly/ ... =153726291
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Postby Diamond Jim Tyler » 09/20/11 02:03 PM

That is sad news. My condolences to his family and loved ones for their loss. He was a true talent. He illustrated some of my effects as well. I regret never meeting him in person.
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Postby F.Amílcar » 09/20/11 05:17 PM

Dear friends in magic,

Our most sincere condolences from Spain.


F.Amlcar Riega i Bello.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 09/28/11 12:36 AM

Here is a link to an obituary in today's Philadelphia Enquirer.
It pretty much sums up all that was good about Earle, if such a thing can be done in a page.

http://www.philly.com/philly/obituaries ... magic.html

"Mr. Oakes evinced an old-fashioned sense of courtesy. He wrote numerous notes and letters, and lucky were they who received one of his special handmade birthday or graduation cards, adorned with an illustrator's touch. 'He was a really special, caring, gentle man,' his son said."

Indeed. More than words can say.
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Postby Chas Nigh » 09/28/11 01:07 AM

I would love to have a list of books that were illustrated by Earl Oakes. Anybody?
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Postby Philippe Billot » 09/28/11 02:57 AM

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Postby El Harvey Oswald » 09/28/11 08:01 AM

Sounds like a first-rate person who also had the distinction of being great at something artistic and was surrounded by his family to the end of a relatively long life. Hard to imagine a better way to be.
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Postby Bill Wells » 09/28/11 10:37 AM

Earle Oakes was a gentleman in every sense of the word as well as an excellent artist. Magic was enhanced by his presence. Another of our great ones has passed on.
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Postby Gregory Edmonds » 09/28/11 11:53 AM

Among the orignal pieces of art in my collection are a few pieces by Earle, obtained from Chuck Romano, which appeared in published magic books.

Earle was indeed a terrific artist, with a unique style which can be easily recognized in the broad spectrum of publications he illustrated.

As as a one-time illustrator myself (as is Richard) I think I (we) have a genuine appreciation of the artistry Earle and his contemporaries created. It's also amazing to comprehend the fact that Earle started creating works of art for magic publications so late in life.

I've not yet the achieved the age Earle was when he began, but have already had to stop attempting to create most illustrations by hand due to physical limitations. My hat is off to this wonderfully creative man. I hope he's in that proverbial "better place" now, and pray for the loved ones he left behind. He most certainly will be missed, but we can treasure the works, in various forms, he left behind.

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Postby fkaps1 » 09/28/11 03:33 PM

I was honored to deliver the Broken Wand ceremony at Earle's funeral. It was so apparent from everyone who spoke that magic was such a key element in his life. I was lucky enough to know Earle for over 40 years and he was always so giving in so many ways to myself and others. He was always there to give kind criticism. everytime I perform my Cups and Balls, I always remember Earle correcting my pronounciation of the phrase "Piu Presto Qui Il Vento". And everytime I proudly display my Fred Kaps collection, I am always quick to tell that several of the items came from Earle's collection. He was a gentleman and a friend and I will miss him.

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