Well, let's see, Pete...mentor, I only had one. Steve Vogelsang. He was a semi-pro working in Rumford, Maine, in the mid-70's. He took me along with him and had me perform with him to "get the ol' feet wet"...Hope he's alive and well, and still knockin' 'em dead!
"Idols" is a little strong, but "Heros"?
Al Flosso. The first REAL magician I ever met. I cautiously entered that dusty old shop, and suddenly, "Stand up STRAIGHT, my boy! Now come in, come in..." I will never forget him. "The Coney Island Fakir"...Sold me my first set of cups and balls (I still have them), and made me stay until I could do the whole basic routine! When my dad came by (6th floor, I believe) to pick me up, he thought Al was, "Quite a character"! Ha! he had no idea! I only found out much later just how beloved he was "in certain circles"...
Steve Dacri. Sold me my first I.T. trick, "Wunderbar". He gave me tips on lighting, angle, height...also taught me the whole routine before I left. Then I went back and bought my first Zombie from him (My grandmother lived in Worcester, MA, and boy did I look forward to THOSE visits!).
Hank Lee. I could write a BOOK about the great things to say about him and his shop. The man is a MASTER businessman. I'd also say that about his craftsmanship.
(OK, don't get a big head about this... :p )
Pete Biro. The Genii articles...the Johnny Palmer Cups & Balls...the great contributions he's made to the world of magic...
Pete also talked me into obtaining his Pete Biro Hindu Cups & Balls, recently. Could not have asked for better. Personal service from a true GREAT of magic (we don't have many left! Live long and Prosper, Pete!).
Whit Hadyn...Bringing a new twist (pun intended -taking a bow -) to the color changing knives...a true classic, plus the Comedy Ring Routine, bringing new life to that classic as well, plus his Teleporter...nawww, I won't go there! That's too good!
Harold Rice (& family)...The only reason my silk act was as good as it seemed to be. Stunningly bright, colored silks (they still look like BRAND NEW today!), the Palmo Ball, and "Thru The Dye Tube"...could not have done it without Rice!
Ken Brooke. His version of the Linking Rings gave me that flawless "count" of the rings. Still would use that same method today (If I ever get them out and show 'em again!).
Recently, Mickey Silver. He sent me a VHS tape (HIS expense!) of him doing the Retension Of Vision Vanish...I want this for myself, so I won't use up space ranting...
Michael Rubinstein...Encyclopedia of Coin Sleights DVD, vol's 1-3. If it's coin sleights, other than Mickey above, I can't recommend anyone else. I still have an old Videonics tape...still use it.
Many more, most of whom I've never met...
John Gaughan (Copperfield's "Flying")
Laurie Ireland..ok, enough...