Max Abrams

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Postby Guest » 08/26/05 12:09 PM

I'm trying to locate Max Abrams. He was the compiler of the book: "The Life and Times of a Legend... Annemann."

I'd like to contact him, so if you have an address, phone number, or e-mail address, I'd be most grateful.

Denny Loomis
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Postby Richard Hatch » 08/26/05 12:56 PM

Alas, he died about a few years ago (I'd guess about 5 years ago).
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Postby Guest » 08/26/05 01:15 PM

Richard,
Obviously I didn't know. Thanks so much for the information.

Denny Loomis
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Postby Tabman » 08/26/05 01:44 PM

Max sent me the film of Annemann's Bullet Catch shot sometime in the 1930s a few weeks before he passed away. He and I were good friends and he represented me in a case against a group of musicians I was working with and Warner-Chappell Music. He won it hands down.

A great friend and atty. I miss him every time I think about him. I often wonder what happened to the beautiful Tabman Drawer Table I made for him shortly before he passed on.

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Postby Guest » 08/26/05 02:00 PM

Tabby,

When you are back in south TN/north AL for anything, I would love to see the Annemann film you mentioned!

Regards,

Jon
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Postby Tabman » 08/26/05 02:29 PM

Maybe I will convert the film to real video and put it on my website if I get some free time.
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Postby Matthew Field » 08/27/05 02:52 AM

Originally posted by -=tabman:
Maybe I will convert the film to real video and put it on my website if I get some free time.
-=tabman
Tabby -- please do!

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Postby David Ben » 08/27/05 05:26 AM

Not to rain on the parade, but you might have to obtain some permission to place the film on a website. The Bullet Catch footage was shot and edited by Sid Lorraine. Although Sid or his widow, Rene Lorraine, may have given the physical footage to Max, the right to reproduce was mostly likely retained by Sid or his Estate. The film is terrific and it would be great if it was made more available to the general magic community - along with the films Sid shot of Ramsay performing the Cylinder and Coins and other such fare. Let me know when you want to put the wheels in motion, however, as Rene should be contacted first.
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Postby Tabman » 08/27/05 08:19 AM

OK, I'll check on that but Max told me it had passed into the public domain but only a lawyer would know for sure.

Thanks,

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Postby Bill Mullins » 08/27/05 04:28 PM

HERE is a flowchart that may be of some help in determining if something is in the public domain or not.

Since it was shot in the 1930s, the only way it could be still under copyright (not in the public domain) is if Loraine or his assigns/heir renewed registration with 28 years after it was originally shot.

Project Gutenberg has a huge (31 MB) file of copyright renewals from 1950-1977 that may be of some use in finding this out:
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11800/11800-8.txt
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Postby Tabman » 08/27/05 05:36 PM

Seeing Annemann in action was and is a thrill and knowing Max A. was great too. One of my favorite all time people and a heck of a lawyer when he represented me against one of the biggest music companies in the USA. I'm still getting checks from that settlement.

Max Abrams was a fine atty and told me it was PD. My studio made a DVD of it and copyrighted our DVD, VCD and VHS versions two years ago.

The copyright laws have changed a lot since the 1930s. Creators of original works these days have a lot more protection than they did prior to 1978.

Blessings to Max Abrams where ever he is. We will always hold him in high esteem here at Tabman world hdq. And like Bob Farmer, he gave lawyers and magicians everywhere a good name.

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Postby David Ben » 08/28/05 07:09 AM

Sid Lorraine was Canadian. I do not believe it was necessary for him to file a U.S. copyright registration in order to obtain a protection. His copyright in the work would exist under international copyright conventions for quite some time.

Either way, if someone wanted to put it out, they have been notified that there may be a copyright issue and should contact the Estate. Better to hire the lawyer to help rather than just assume it passed into the public domain.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/28/05 07:47 AM

I've heard that the film wasn't shot by Sid, but by Associated Press or something like that. He just had a copy of it.
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Postby Tabman » 08/28/05 09:15 AM

Yes, my understanding is that it was "newsreel" footage shot by a local stringer. It was shot silent, 16mm, b&w. We have added an original music track to it.

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Postby Richard Lane » 08/28/05 09:39 AM

Richard and Tabman:
I was also under the impression that it was press coverage, but thought I was confused by the references in Abrams, pg 362 and Bob Weill's remembrance in the Annemann special of Genii, Nov 92.

Both works note that Life Magazine sent a still photographer, Mark Palmer, to the Sept. 1938 Piff Paff Poof convention to shoot the bullet-catch. The photos didn't appear until a Look Magazine article of June 20, 1939. Abrams doesn't say who filmed the 16mm short.

A newspaper article mentioning the event, pg 380 on your Digital Jinx, says a dozen photographers "filmed the episode," which could be read as still or movie.

I'm just sure I've read somewhere this was newsreel footage.
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Postby Guest » 08/28/05 11:32 AM

It would be wonderful if this footage can be made available for magicians today to see.

I hope the rights issues can be resolved.

Denny Loomis
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Postby David Alexander » 08/30/05 10:40 AM

One of the areas Max had expertise in was intellectual property. If he said the film was public domain, bank on it.

In one of our many meals together, he told me when the Annemann material would be going PD, which would allow him to do the large Annemann book. He had it down to the day that it all went PD. Max knew his stuff.

Max was a nice man, was generous to me both in sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of mentalism, and in selling me the odd title that I was looking for. He was an expert in old paperback books and jazz, having large collections of both subjects.

Max was a character. Once, as we were talking about Fourth Dimensional Telepathy, he mentioned that the "best" method had been developed by him. I offered to buy it but he said it was sold out. I told him I'd take a Xerox copy and he replied that he "did not deal in Xerox copies." I asked how he produced the originals and he said, "By Xerox." He then laughed at the contradictory nature of his response and supplied me with the pertinent material, plus one or two other things.

Unfortunately, I could not understand what he wrote and asked him about it, saying that the directions weren't that clear. Max responded that my observation was accurate as he didn't want anyone else doing the trick. The next time we met for lunch he explained the details that were purposely muddled in his text. Apparently, I was the only person who ever called him on it and he responded by teaching me his method. As I said, a character.

Unfortunately, Max's life was anything but neat and orderly. When he died without a will the Public Administrator took over. She told me that it was clear to her that Max had been clinically depressed for many years before his death.

Partial evidence of this was that when he would come home after working as an attorney he would sort his mail, keeping letters from friends, but everything else got tossed on the growing pile beside his front door. When he died this pile was around four feet in height, something his case worker told me was clear indiciation of depression. She's seen it many times and said there were thousands of dollars of uncashed checks in the pile.

After his death I could not locate Max's daughter quickly as they were somewhat estranged, but I did make certain he had a Jewish funeral. There were two magicians in attendance at the funeral: John Cannon and me. I helped carry the casket down the steep hill to where he was buried.

Later, his daughter who is more observant than Max was, thanked me for seeing that her father had a religious funeral. That was a comfort to her even though they hadn't been in contact for some time.

Some woman came out of the woodwork claiming to be Max's "widow," something she did not claim at the funeral or to the mortuary. To my knowledge, none of his friends knew about her and there didn't seem to be any evidence that she lived in Max's apartment with him, given that his book collection was everywhere in the place, including piles of books in the bathroom and shower.

The appearance and claim of a "widow" jammed up the disposition of his estate which was put into storage by the Public Administrator. I believe the daughter sold a car or two of Max's to pay for storage. I believe it is still sitting in storage and may for some time. The case worker retired and I have not bothered to check on the current status of the case or if the "wife's" claims have been resolved.

I do not know if Max sold some or all of his Annemann material prior to his death. If he did not disposed of this material, it remains in storage, under the care of the Public Administrator.

Final disposition of his estate may drag on for years.
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Postby Sam Kesler » 08/30/05 11:07 AM

David, it is a bittersweet story and thank you very much for sharing. Life And Times is hard to put down and one of the prized books in my collection. Wish I could have met him...
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Postby Pete Biro » 08/30/05 12:59 PM

David, I hope you had help carrying the casket... Max was H U G E . . . :genii:
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Postby Tabman » 08/30/05 03:21 PM

Originally posted by David Alexander:
Max responded that my observation was accurate as he didn't want anyone else doing the trick.
Thanks David, I got a great laugh out of that one.

When he took my "case" (a copyright issue) he asked me what I wanted to do and I told him that I'd like it if he would run the other guys lawyer bills through the roof. He wrote some great letters to their attorney spinning him (the other atty) in circles and working him hard. We would just sit back and wait for their response until it was over. Once they claimed that I was "outrageous and rancorous" and Max told me there was no law against being "outrageous and rancorous" to just continue being myself.

After it was all over and we settled they fired their atty. It was great.

When I got Max's bill for legal services it was a pittance for what he had done for me and my family AND he knocked off many dollars for the Tabman Tables I had sent him as gifts during the year long process.

Personally, I think he was a great man, very kind and very smart.

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Postby David Alexander » 08/31/05 05:35 PM

I liked Max a lot. As I said, he was kind and generous to me in many ways. Once when we were talking mentalism, he told me I had to have a certain title. He sold it to me for a low price and when I returned home and opened it I found the bookplate of my old friend, Ray Hafler. Max had bought Ray's library from his widow (I bought some Thurston posters and pointed her towards Max as someone who would pay a fair price for the books). When I called to thank him, he said he thought I would appreciate that specific copy.

Once I was in his magic office, as opposed to his law office, and he handed me a small stack of various newsstand magazines - the complete file of all the various force magazines with original instructions that Richard Himber had produced over the years. They were all mint. He charged me a pittance for items that were hard to find.

Tabman's story of him jerking the other attorney around sounds like vintage Max.
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