Last night, at The Magic Circle, Steve Short (author of the recent biography of Johnny Hart) arranged an evening about Harry Stanley who founded and ran the Unique Magic Studio, London from just after WW2 until 1972.
Star of the evening was Harry's son Bill Stanley (professional guitarist and bass guitarist) who told about growing up in a magic studio and the people he met.
Steve asked me to perform some of the tricks sold by Unique over the years. For the record I opened with Robert Harbin's 'I'll Do It Again' a T&R tissue effect first sold as a manuscript, later reprinted in Magic For Minors and also explained in the Harbin book by Eric C. Lewis, published by Mike Caveney.
Yimka's 'Card in Balloon' inspired by Geoffrey Robinson's routine from The Gen magazine, Vol 4, Issue 5.
Finishing with 'Troublewit'.
My two favourite stories from the evening:
Each month The Gen magazine had to be put in envelopes, franked and posted. Harry always insisted they all be posted on the same day they arrived at the studio. So it was all hands on deck with everyone joining in, even customers.
On this particular day, Orson Welles, came in to the studio. Harry said, "Orson, I haven't time to take a break, but so we can talk, you're welcome to join in and stuff envelopes. He did.
Bill (having got permission from school) and his mother, Rita, sailed to New York on the Queen Mary to join Harry who was already there. As Rita and Harry walked down the gangplank a police squad car roared in, sirens blazing. Rita and Bill were put into the car and taken to a police station. Rita was put in a cell with a some ladies of negotiable affections.
A while later, the head of police came over laughing and released them. Turns out the whole charade was a practical joke arranged by Richard Himber.
There are some photos by Mark Hesketh Jennings on my Facebook page.
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