Who invented Bowling Ball from Briefcase ?

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby David Nethery » 05/02/04 01:00 PM

There is now a standard dealer item called "Executive Production" which is a production of a large item, such as a basketball, a fisbowl, or a bowling ball from a standard size briefcase. It looks absolutely impossible because of how thin the briefcase is .

Who invented it ?

I dimly recall reading about this effect in Genii or Linking Ring (or both) back in the late 1970's and being blown away by trying to puzzle out "how" it could be done . I remember that it was a signature effect for the magician that invented it .

I was away from magic for about a dozen years, then fast forward to my getting back into magic and then a few years later I noticed the ads appearing for this "Executive Production" briefcase effect, but sans credit .

So, was this thing marketed with the permission of the originator or is it a knock-off ?
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/02/04 01:16 PM

To my knowledge the first to produce a Bowling ball was Don Alan. Then he gave the OK to Johnny Thompson, AKA The Great Tomsoni.

That was NOT from a briefcase, but a standard load following a silk production.

The first that I saw do the Bowling Ball from briefcase was Kevin James. Not sure of the origin, if it was his or ???
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Postby Michael Close » 05/02/04 01:58 PM

I may be mistaken on this, but I think the bowling ball from a briefcase was Howard Flint's. I saw Howard do this in the late 70s at the IBM convention in Houston. (1977? 1979?) I don't know that Howard ever gave anyone permission to do (or sell) this, but many other performers are doing it.

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Postby Brad Henderson » 05/02/04 02:00 PM

I too have heard Howard's name associated with that trick as the originator.
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Postby Guest » 05/02/04 02:17 PM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
To my knowledge the first to produce a Bowling ball was Don Alan. Then he gave the OK to Johnny Thompson, AKA The Great Tomsoni.

That was NOT from a briefcase, but a standard load following a silk production.

The first that I saw do the Bowling Ball from briefcase was Kevin James. Not sure of the origin, if it was his or ???
You've got part of the story right, Pete. Don Alan WAS the first to produce a bowling ball - he did it as part of his "Garbage Can" Act. It was quite a surprise, and funny, too - but what else from Don? He did NOT give ANYONE permission to use that idea, though...

Best, PSC
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Postby Steve Bryant » 05/02/04 03:14 PM

Executive Production is a great improvement over Bowling Ball from Briefcase. You can produce a genuine basketball from it (and I do), but a bowling ball would be too heavy for how it works. It is sufficiently different that it is definitely not a ripoff of any other magic trick.
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/02/04 03:35 PM

FLINT ... yep, that sounds right.
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/02/04 03:35 PM

Don Alan DID sell the Garbage Can act to a young guy, who didn't go anywhere with it.
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Postby Guest » 05/02/04 03:44 PM

As I understand it, the bowling ball from briefcase production was created by J.C. Doty (the builder and creator of much of Tom Mullica's Tom Foolery). It is described and credited to Doty (yotD?) in one of David Ginn's books. --Asrah
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 05/02/04 05:17 PM

Pete,

Is there film or a write-up of something like the garbage can act?

Thx,

Carl
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/02/04 06:16 PM

Carl, not that I know of, but there could be around Chicago. Don basically did it on club dates.

He walked on with a table with a cloth over it, when he took the cloth away it was a metal garbage can. The lid swung out and hung at the side. He did somewhat standard stuff like the spot card, silk to egg, etc. I forget how he produced the silks, which were followed by the bowling ball production.

The guy that bought it moved to L.A. and did it at the Castle, but he was not much of a performer, and as far as I know has either left the area or hung it up.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 05/02/04 07:22 PM

Lines vaguely remembered from the act Pete just described:

Before whipping the cloth off, Don would say, "Here's the kind of act you're going to see tonight." And then he'd reveal the garbage can.

He'd then hold the cloth like a matador taunting a bull and say, "Ole, Ole [pronounced o-lay of course]--I finally figured out what that means." And then he'd turn the cloth around to show the word HELP on the other side.
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Postby David Nethery » 05/02/04 08:35 PM

Originally posted by Michael Close:
I may be mistaken on this, but I think the bowling ball from a briefcase was Howard Flint's. I saw Howard do this in the late 70s at the IBM convention in Houston. (1977? 1979?) I don't know that Howard ever gave anyone permission to do (or sell) this, but many other performers are doing it.

M. Close
Bingo ! That was the name I was looking for . Howard Flint . When I read his name it finally jogged my memory. Thanks .

Would still like to hear if anyone knows whether the manufacturers have permission to market it or is it yet another trick that has passed into the "public domain" on the sly .
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Postby Steve Bryant » 05/02/04 08:43 PM

I repeat: it is NOT the same as the one you are referring to. It is something else, and better. No credit is necessary.
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Postby David Nethery » 05/02/04 09:36 PM

Originally posted by Steve Bryant:
I repeat: it is NOT the same as the one you are referring to. It is something else, and better. No credit is necessary.
Clarify this for me:

Are you saying that the method is completely different in Executive Production than in the original effect performed by Howard Flint ?

Because the effect is exactly the same : The performer sets a briefcase down on the table, opens it , and removes a bowling ball. Changing it to a basketball or a soccer ball doesn't make it "something else" .
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Postby Steve Bryant » 05/03/04 08:54 AM

First, the effect is somewhat different, in that you can't produce a bowling ball. It would be too heavy.

Second, yes the method is quite different. But I'm not going to clarify that enough for you to give away the method. I like it that the new product is expensive (by card trick standards; it's a bargain for what you get). I use this item, and the fewer who use it, the better for me.

When Daryl came up with a new way to bring a card to the top of the deck, he was not ripping off anyone who had worked on the Ambitious Card in the past. Same effect (actually better effect), new method.

And when David Regal came up with a way to exactly duplicate Daryl's climax, he was not ripping off Daryl. He discovered a new method (which fooled me badly on his dvd, as I had skipped over that in his book).

This, like Daryl's and David's contributions to the Ambitious Card, is a new method and a better effect. And that's as much as I will tell you. One of my peeves in magic (as a purchaser) is that you cannot really know the effect of a dealer item without knowing the method. They are too intertwined. So I realize I could tell you more, but I won't.

And, as some of the other posts indicate, it's probably Doty you should be saving, not Howard
Flint. But ... neither needs saving. Neither was robbed.

As far as who is doing this lately (you have been away?), the bowling ball from briefcase is currently a feature of Amazing Johnathan's act. Check it out.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 05/03/04 09:22 AM

Originally posted by Steve Bryant:
Lines vaguely remembered from the act Pete just described:

Before whipping the cloth off, Don would say, "Here's the kind of act you're going to see tonight." And then he'd reveal the garbage can.

He'd then hold the cloth like a matador taunting a bull and say, "Ole, Ole [pronounced o-lay of course]--I finally figured out what that means." And then he'd turn the cloth around to show the word HELP on the other side.
LOL!!! Don was the man...It's a shame stuff like this gets lost...
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Postby David Nethery » 05/03/04 10:03 AM

Originally posted by Steve Bryant:
First, the effect is somewhat different, in that you can't produce a bowling ball. It would be too heavy.
Maybe. Not really . (see below)


Second, yes the method is quite different. But I'm not going to clarify that enough for you to give away the method.

........... So I realize I could tell you more, but I won't.

And, as some of the other posts indicate, it's probably Doty you should be saving, not Howard
Flint. But ... neither needs saving. Neither was robbed.
Steve,

Thanks for clarifying what you meant . I'm not trying to "save" anyone, just trying to establish a credit line for the effect . If Flint's and/or Doty's method was different from Executive Production then I will take your word for it .

I'm not fishing for the method and I applaud you for not discussing the methods of either Flint's or the Adelaide Magic version on this public forum .

I've never seen Flint's performed and obviously I have not had the opportunity to view his apparatus , so I have no way of knowing what method he was using , but I have seen Executive Production and I am aware of the method because I purchased one from Hank Lee. It is made by Adelaide Magic . I reinforced mine so it would produce a bowlling ball and/or a round fishbowl . So, it can be done with a bowling ball even though the manufacturers (Adelaide Magic) suggest that you don't use a bowling ball . If a lighter weight (6 pound) ball is used it is not really a problem and it's no big deal to reinforce the briefcase to handle it . (though I have since moved on to use it to produce a fishbowl )

My interest in starting this thread was to find out who created the effect "Bowling Ball from Briefcase" , because I jumped at purchasing it when I saw it was available , but since then I have been wracking my brain trying to remember who it was that I had read about back in the 70's who was producing a bowling ball from his briefcase . I do think it's important to know who created it and if there was ever any permission given by the creator for it to be marketed . (Yes, yes, I know I should have thought of that before I purchased it , but it was one of those magic shop impulse buys........)

Michael Close brought up the name Howard Flint and that jogged my memory of who I remember being associated with the effect . Asrah suggested J.C. Doty as another person who may have created this effect . You seem to know what Flint and/or Doty were using for their method and you seem satisfied that the Adelaide Magic version , marketed as "Executive Production" (aka "Executive Decision" ) is not the same method , so there is no conflict . Thanks for your input .
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/03/04 10:10 AM

Carl: There is so much great stuff lost... guys like Larry Gray the Dizzy Wizzard, Roy Benson, Frank Van Hoven, et al... all great great acts almost no one remembers.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 05/03/04 10:17 AM

D.T.: By the way, there is a THIRD similar effect on the market in which you produce TWO basketballs from a briefcase. It's not even close in method to the other two magic tricks (and in my opinion not as worthwhile). You've probably seen this advertised more recently than Executive Production.

P.S. I don't know exactly how Flint or Doty did the bowling ball, but I do know how Amazing Johnathan does it, and am assuming it's the same method. Pretty simple, yet still baffling to those not in the know.
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Postby Carl Mercurio » 05/03/04 12:16 PM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
Carl: There is so much great stuff lost... guys like Larry Gray the Dizzy Wizzard, Roy Benson, Frank Van Hoven, et al... all great great acts almost no one remembers.
Pete,

So there's no film of all this stuff?

Carl
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Postby Jamy Ian Swiss » 05/03/04 12:30 PM

Although the bowling ball from briefcase may have been devised by Doty, Howard Flint had exclusive use of it. Howard once gave permission to George Kirkendall to produce six copies for sale. That's it. Later the item appeared in a David Ginn book without permission from Flint or anyone else involved, and all versions since then have essentially been done without permission.

It is true that John Thompson was not "given" permission by Don Alan for the use of the bowling ball -- HE PAID FOR IT.
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/03/04 12:45 PM

Jamy... good clarification. I knew Tomsoni had permission, but I forgot he had paid Don. Do you recall the name of the kid Don sold the Garbage can to?

I just can't recall his name, but I saw him do the act with NO REACTION from the audience. Too bad.
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Postby David Nethery » 05/03/04 01:21 PM

Originally posted by Steve Bryant:
P.S. I don't know exactly how Flint or Doty did the bowling ball, but I do know how Amazing Johnathan does it, and am assuming it's the same method. Pretty simple, yet still baffling to those not in the know.
Ok, now I'm confused again.

Earlier you wrote (re: Flint's method vs. Executive Production)

yes the method is quite different.
but how can you know that if you now also say : "I don't know exactly how Flint or Doty did the bowling ball "

Then for all we know the Executive Production is precisely the same method that Howard Flint used to produce a bowling ball from his briefcase . Jamy Ian Swiss writes that Howard Flint did not give permission for it to be marketed, except as a limited edition (six) from George Kirkendall .
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Postby Max Maven » 05/03/04 01:33 PM

The proper credit, as noted earlier in this thread, is J. C. Doty, who worked out the method for/with Howard Flint.

It is worth noting, for the record, that a similar effect (with essentially the same method) was being used by Irv Weiner in the 1950s: He'd bring out a slim jeweler's case, from which he'd remove a set of three tall metal cups.
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Postby Pepka » 05/03/04 01:50 PM

When I saw Copperfield a few months ago, he did a routine in which he "impregnates" a woman from the audience. I think this is in EXTRME bad taste, (especially since he pulled up a 97 year old woman). But during the routine, he produced a very huge jar of pickles from a thin briefcase. It seemed to fall flat on most of the audience, but for me was the highlight of that act.
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Postby David Nethery » 05/03/04 01:55 PM

Thanks to Mr. Swiss and Mr. Maven for the additional info. on the provenance of this effect .

It is worth noting, for the record, that a similar effect (with essentially the same method) was being used by Irv Weiner in the 1950s: He'd bring out a slim jeweler's case, from which he'd remove a set of three tall metal cups
In discussing this with someone else it was suggested that the basic method might also be traced back to U.F. Grant's Rabbit Production Box from the World War II era booklet
"Victory Carton Illusions" . In Grant's effect the performer walks on stage with a cardboard box folded flat underneath his arm .
The flat box is shown, unfolded, tipped forward to show it empty , and then a rabbit is produced from the box .

Great minds , thinking alike .......
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/03/04 02:01 PM

IMHO the method is not the message.

It is the effect.

You can use a flap, a hole in the back, a steal, I don't care... it is the effect that is the intellectual property.

Producing a ball from a tight space goes back to before Hoffman's books, where spring balls were used.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 05/03/04 02:37 PM

While the Flint/Doty method may be "a" method, it is not Doty's only method. At a recent Winter Carnival in Gatlinburg, I overheard Doty mention two or three methods he had come up with in a conversation with Russell Davis.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/03/04 02:45 PM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
IMHO the method is not the message.
it is the effect that is the intellectual property....
It magicians were gentlemen and/or respected the notion of intellectual property...

Well... a lot of books would not exist. And a lot of inventions would not be taken for granted.

In the mean time;

Who can I ask about obtaining a bowling ball from attach case setup?
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Postby Tabman » 05/03/04 02:57 PM

why not make your own???
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Postby Steve Bryant » 05/03/04 03:18 PM

Re:

Then for all we know the Executive Production is precisely the same method that Howard Flint used to produce a bowling ball from his briefcase .
D.T.: You seem so fiercely attached to this line of thinking that I hesitate to add anything that might dissuade you from it. For what it's worth, I just phoned J.C. Doty for clarification. His story (as one would expect) confirms what Max wrote above. Howard Flint had approached him and asked him to invent a way to produce a bowling ball from a Harbin table. Doty told him that a Harbin table would barely support its own weight, and so came up with a better method. This is the method that eventually got around (without permission from Flint), employing a briefcase. Doty also acknowledged the independent creation by Irv Weiner mentioned above. Doty is aware of the Executive Production version, which has the advantage that you can show the briefcase on all sides after the production. He does not consider this an enhancement, in the sense that you are producing something and then "proving" that it was from an ungimmicked case, i.e. running when no one is chasing. (For the record, I do consider that a substantial improvement, but am reasonably subtle in how I show it. I focus all the attention on the ball, but do close the briefcase and leave it standing in full view and upright. It's less to prove that the case is ungimmicked, but more to show off how thin it is relative to the ball. This is just casual handling as I am messing with the ball.) Doty expressed no resentment toward whoever came up with the Executive Production; the real knock offs were re the original version. Doty adds that he has now worked out a way to produce two balls from a briefcase. (I'll leave it to the debate society to decide if that means Doty is now ripping off the "two basketballs from briefcase production" currently on the market.) Also good news: Doty plans to come to Stan's MAGIC Live II, so all who are interested can continue the discussion with the man. He's the greatest.

So, think what you want. I love Executive Production, and I shall continue to enjoy using it with a clear conscience.
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Postby David Nethery » 05/03/04 05:27 PM

Originally posted by Steve Bryant:


Then for all we know the Executive Production is precisely the same method that Howard Flint used to produce a bowling ball from his briefcase .
D.T.: You seem so fiercely attached to this line of thinking that I hesitate to add anything that might dissuade you from it.
Uh, what "line of thinking" would that be , Steve ? You mean the truth about who invented the effect and the method ? You mean properly crediting creators of magic effects ? Yeah, I guess you can say I like the idea. If you want to say that I'm "fiercely" attached to it because that conveniently casts me in the role of the fanatical nitpicker , well, go ahead if it makes you feel better . Just a dozen or so posts earlier you were assuring us all that the methods were "quite different" , but it now turns out that the method is identical except for the extra piece that Adelaide Magic added to Executive Production to allow one to show it from all sides after the production is made .

Anyway, I didn't come here to argue about methods , but to get a question answered : who invented Bowling Ball from Briefcase ? Seems that it was most certainly J.C. Doty , working on request of Howard Flint and it was a signature piece for Flint . My question is answered .

For what it's worth, I just phoned J.C. Doty for clarification. His story (as one would expect) confirms what Max wrote above.
Good. That's cool . I'm glad to read in your account below that Mr. Doty does not have any resentment towards those who have marketed his effect without permission. If he's ok with it , I'm ok with it .


Howard Flint had approached him and asked him to invent a way to produce a bowling ball from a Harbin table. Doty told him that a Harbin table would barely support its own weight, and so came up with a better method. This is the method that eventually got around (without permission from Flint), employing a briefcase. Doty also acknowledged the independent creation by Irv Weiner mentioned above. Doty is aware of the Executive Production version, which has the advantage that you can show the briefcase on all sides after the production. He does not consider this an enhancement, in the sense that you are producing something and then "proving" that it was from an ungimmicked case, i.e. running when no one is chasing. (For the record, I do consider that a substantial improvement, but am reasonably subtle in how I show it. I focus all the attention on the ball, but do close the briefcase and leave it standing in full view and upright. It's less to prove that the case is ungimmicked, but more to show off how thin it is relative to the ball. This is just casual handling as I am messing with the ball.) Doty expressed no resentment toward whoever came up with the Executive Production; the real knock offs were re the original version. Doty adds that he has now worked out a way to produce two balls from a briefcase. (I'll leave it to the debate society to decide if that means Doty is now ripping off the "two basketballs from briefcase production" currently on the market.) Also good news: Doty plans to come to Stan's MAGIC Live II, so all who are interested can continue the discussion with the man. He's the greatest.


So, think what you want. I love Executive Production, and I shall continue to enjoy using it with a clear conscience.
I'm so glad for you, and again , thanks for your input .
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 05/03/04 05:39 PM

I just saw Doty at dinner tonight and he told me about the call this afternoon. In Atlanta it's pretty common knowledge that Doty invented this trick. (And another Atlanta magician, John Stanfield, invented the linking coathangers.)

I just want to second the comment that Mr. Doty (and Mrs. Doty!) are as nice as they come. They have done a lot to encourage me as I have started my magic career. Doty is a fount of magical knowledge.

JMT
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Postby Paul Green » 05/03/04 08:16 PM

Hi everyone!

Pete, the guy that purchased the rights from Don Alan for the Garbage Can Act and performed at the Magic Castle was John Garner. Really don't know of his whereabouts now.

Regards,

Paul :D :D :D :confused:
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Postby Guest » 05/15/04 10:49 PM

I had Bill Schmelk at Wellington (the guys that make the colored light board) and Bill did the right thing (in my opinion) by contacting Mr. Flint so I could purchase performing rights before he made the prop. I honestly didn't know beforehand that it was necessary, but I think it says a lot about Bill's integrity that he did it.
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Postby Michael Baker » 06/20/04 09:37 PM

A few years ago, I was talking to both JC Doty and Kevin James, two bowling ball giants. I had built a miniature box that produced a baseball (before the current marketed version, by the way) The interior could be shown empty prior to the production. I asked Doty and Kevin if they had info on the origin of the bowling ball from briefcase concept. Doty told me himself that Howard Flint was to get the credit, but that is precisely the kind of person that Doty is. Wonderful man!
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Postby Guest » 06/21/04 02:03 AM

Doty may not be irked about being ripped off, but I recall Flint being yanked off about it. I played the Parlour at the Castle four years or so ago with him, and he expressed his discontent quite strongly.
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Postby Guest » 06/21/04 06:58 AM

Not to stir up bad feelings or a lot of controversy but just to keep the record books straight for historical purposes. I had quite a few conversations with Don Alan regarding the bowling ball production and he claimed that he did not give or sell anyone the rights to use it (my last conversation with him on this matter would have been around 1984)and for that reason he was upset with Johnny Thompson.
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/21/04 09:58 AM

Maybe, but Don "DID SELL" the act to a young guy that came out to California, but has since faded from the scene (Garbage can) and did that not have the bowling ball production in it?
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