Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.
Leonard Hevia
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Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 23rd, 2019, 10:04 am

Years ago I remember reading that Vernon earned a $100,000 on his final lecture in 1976. At a $1,000 stop that doesn't seem possible. Does anyone recall what the Professor earned on that tour? Does anyone have photos or memories of that tour they can share?

Max Maven
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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Max Maven » November 23rd, 2019, 11:21 am

The tour came about this way: Dai Vernon attended the 1974 SAM convention in Boston. Herb Zarrow said, “It’s a waste having the Professor present and not learning from him.” So, a late-night lecture was arranged, with an entrance fee of something like ten dollars (remember, this was ‘74). The room was packed, and Vernon held forth into the wee hours.

Based on that response, a “farewell lecture tour” was arranged for 1976. Entrance was either $20 or $25. I’m pretty sure he received a flat fee of $1000 in each city — and there is no way he did a hundred cities. He traveled with Joe Cossari as his companion. I do not know how expenses (travel, hotel, etc.) were handled. I would hope those costs were paid by producer in each city, but even if the costs were deducted, the fee for each lecture was way above the norm for that time. (Sadly, it’s still mostly way above the norm now.)

I do not recall Vernon bringing any sales merchandise; no lecture notes.

I attended both the ‘74 and ‘76 lectures, and they were extraordinary. 1974 was when I got to meet the Professor for the first time; not much more than a polite handshake (and I was thrilled at that). 1976 was when I got a bit more time with him, thanks to Walter Gibson. And January 1977 is when I first performed at the Magic Castle, and our friendship blossomed. But that is another story, for another time.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Ted M » November 23rd, 2019, 11:36 am

When and where is the next story time? Please sign me up.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Max Maven » November 23rd, 2019, 11:39 am

Entirely up to whoever wants to book me...

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Joe Lyons » November 23rd, 2019, 12:05 pm

I’ll buy the book.

Leonard Hevia
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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 23rd, 2019, 12:19 pm

These two images are from Sonny Narvaez when Vernon and Cossari appeared in Norfolk , Virginia for that final tour in 76. Amazing!!!


Image

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby performer » November 23rd, 2019, 1:00 pm

I remember those Indian playing cards! I used to use them all the time. Perfect for fanning and in fact were used in Lewis Ganson's very first book "Expert Manipulation of Playing Cards". You could only purchase them in Woolworths at the time. I thought they were only available in the UK. Maybe the cards in the picture were British even though the owner was American!

Leonard Hevia
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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 23rd, 2019, 1:06 pm

Great recollections by Maven! Yes Mark, those are the British Alf Cooke cards Cossari is fanning. Hard to find but they come up on eBay now and then.

Narvaez remembered that the attendees were a little worried about Vernon's safety sitting on top of that table.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Michael Close » November 23rd, 2019, 2:57 pm

Harry Riser organized the Vernon lecture in Indianapolis; I was in attendance. You can see a photo of Harry, Vernon, and John Railing at that event in The Feints and Temps of Harry Riser book.

Harry and I had a particular question for Vernon, but we wanted to ask it in such a way that it didn't seem important. (Harry was very much in his secretive stage in those years.) Harry remember that Vernon had a beautiful sequence for laying out the four Aces for an Ace Assembly routine. The handling made it look like the Aces were "pegged" down to the table by the left forefinger as the right hand held the Aces spread in a fan.

When question time came, either Harry or I asked, as nonchalantly as possible, "What can you tell us about Ace laydowns, Professor?" Vernon actually remembered this sequence and explained it. It eventually ended up in print.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby performer » November 23rd, 2019, 3:19 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote:Great recollections by Maven! Yes Mark, those are the British Alf Cooke cards Cossari is fanning. Hard to find but they come up on eBay now and then.

Narvaez remembered that the attendees were a little worried about Vernon's safety sitting on top of that table.


Yes. I remember now! Alf Cooke was the manufacturer. They must have been around a long, long time since the Ganson book (which I still own after 60 odd years or so) was written during the second world war. However the Indian cards were around even in the early sixties or so since I used to buy them not just for card fanning which they were excellent for but for other uses as well. I was disappointed when they disappeared from public sale. I learned card fanning from three sources. The Ganson book just mentioned. Card Fantasies by Edward Love and the little book by Anthony Norman (I think) and published by Max Andrews.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Tom Gilbert » November 23rd, 2019, 3:31 pm

When Vernon came to Boston for his Farewell Lecture, he was hosted by Steve Dacri. Steve turned it into a convention with Walter Gibson, Irv Weiner, and Sid Radner. A few days later Vernon and Cossari appeared on the weekly magic show Steve had on a Worcester station. That particular show is on Volume 3 of Dacri's DVD set.

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Brad Jeffers » November 24th, 2019, 4:23 am

Here's something I wrote in 2003 concerning Vernon's lecture tours ...

One of the ways that Vernon accumulated his "wealth", that has not yet been mentioned, was by giving lectures. By his own account, he gave "hundreds and hundreds" of them. The first lecture he ever gave was arranged by George Karger around 1947 and was attended by around 300 magicians who paid $5 each. Not a bad days pay for 1947! This was followed by a tour of 29 cities in just over a month. Karger made all the arrangements and got 25% of the proceeds. I know, that in 1972 at the age of 78(!) Vernon gave an extensive lecture tour of Europe, and this was not his first lecture tour abroad. In 1976 at the age of 82(!) he embarked on his "farewell" lecture tour of the U.S. I'm not sure of the exact number of lectures that were given, but I think it was around 20. Anyway, his fee for each stop was $1000. Jay Marshall attended one of these lectures and asked Vernon if he would make an unscheduled stop in Chicago. Jay could not guarantee the full $1000 on such short notice, but said he would charge $15 each for admission and Vernon would keep all the proceeds. At the end of the lecture Jay presented Vernon with a check for $1180. In referring to that first lecture tour of 1947, Vernon had this to say, "After I started this lecture circuit it got to be laughable. Everybody began giving lectures. Even fellows that had only been in magic a couple of months. I guess when a magician sees a bad lecture they should blame me, as I'm guilty of being the father of the modern lecture series".

Leonard Hevia
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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 24th, 2019, 11:04 am

Great post Brad! Thanks for sharing that, and a big thanks to Max, Mike , and Tom for their recollections. These stories should not be lost to history.

Vernon also did that 1955 British lecture tour. He also did more lectures after that 1976 Farewell Tour, so that tour wasn't the end. He lived a fairly austere life so one can believe he banked some money there.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby performer » November 24th, 2019, 11:46 am

I heard that he accumulated a decent sum of money once Herb Zarrow took over his financial affairs as an accountant. He lived so long that his social security payments mounted up to a considerable sum.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 24th, 2019, 1:18 pm

I believe the first what we would consider an actual magic lecture was given by Harlan Tarbell.
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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Jim Martin » November 24th, 2019, 2:42 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:Here's something I wrote in 2003 concerning Vernon's lecture tours ...
The first lecture he ever gave was arranged by George Karger around 1947 and was attended by around 300 magicians who paid $5 each. Not a bad days pay for 1947! ...".

According to this site:
"Adjusted for inflation, $1,500.00 in 1947 is equal to $17,527.88 in 2019."
https://www.dollartimes.com/inflation/i ... &year=1947
Not a bad payday for 2019 either.
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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Tom Gilbert » November 24th, 2019, 9:25 pm

The $1000 Vernon got in 1976 for his Farewell lecture fee is the equivalent of $4500 today. Not bad

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby performer » November 24th, 2019, 9:56 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote:Years ago I remember reading that Vernon earned a $100,000 on his final lecture in 1976. At a $1,000 stop that doesn't seem possible. Does anyone recall what the Professor earned on that tour? Does anyone have photos or memories of that tour they can share?


I will tell you where I suspect the hundred grand story came from. I read once that at one point in his later years it was discovered that he had a hundred grand in his bank account and that this caused a bit of a stir around the magic castle at the time. Nobody expected him to have this kind of money. However, it wasn't so much from lecture income as it was from social security payments which had just accumulated because he had lived so long.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Brad Jeffers » November 25th, 2019, 2:21 am

performer wrote:...it was from social security payments which had just accumulated because he had lived so long.

Was Vernon eligible to receive Social Security benefits?

After all, he never had a "real job", and quite possibly may have never filed an income tax form in his life.

Doesn't seem like the kind of thing he would concern himself with.

Maybe BossTweed will have the answer.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby performer » November 25th, 2019, 3:23 am

I understand that Herb Zarrow took over his financial affairs and sorted everything out. Once he did that the benefits came in.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Q. Kumber » November 25th, 2019, 7:15 am

On his UK lecture tour with Faucett Ross in the 1950's, Vernon lectured in Dublin, Ireland. It started in the afternoon and well into the evening Vernon said, "I'm having such a great time Faucett, give all these guys their money back."

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Bill Mullins » November 25th, 2019, 4:57 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:
performer wrote:...it was from social security payments which had just accumulated because he had lived so long.

Was Vernon eligible to receive Social Security benefits?

After all, he never had a "real job", and quite possibly may have never filed an income tax form in his life.


The construction job he had when he broke his arms would have been a real job.

Vernon's SSN was 070147734. He applied for benefits on 1 Nov 1965.

It is possible to order a copy of his original application for a Social Security card.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby performer » November 25th, 2019, 6:00 pm

That is terrible! Aren't those things supposed to be private? I know that when I came to Canada I was warned by all and sundry not to give my social insurance number to anyone. America is a most peculiar place and it is about time it came under British rule once again. Or at least when this Brexit mess is sorted out...........

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Bill Mullins » November 26th, 2019, 1:11 am

The Social Security Administration publishes the "Social Security Death Index", which lists this information for everyone who has a SSN after they die.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Robert77 » November 26th, 2019, 1:34 am

Bill Mullins wrote:The Social Security Administration publishes the "Social Security Death Index", which lists this information for everyone who has a SSN after they die.


So I can, for example, look up a dead relative if I have their SSN?

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Brad Jeffers » November 26th, 2019, 4:56 am

Bill Mullins wrote:The construction job he had when he broke his arms would have been a real job.

True - but he only worked at that job for two weeks.

Perhaps he received Social Security benefits via THIS ROUTE.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby performer » November 26th, 2019, 5:29 am

In his life he was mostly self employed as a silhouette artist. That is where most of his income came from. Aren't you entitled to social security benefits if you have been self employed?

In any case I feel a bit queasy reading this discussion. This stuff is really none of our business. Even if someone is dead it seems like a breach of privacy to me.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Diego » November 26th, 2019, 11:41 am

The answer to the question Robert77 asked is yes. Those like Bill and myself who do historical/genealogical research know the SSA is a often used resource. Privacy IS important, that is why people are cautioned to keep their SSI number private.(as Mark correctly noted) But once they are deceased, a certain amount of information becomes accessible, for legitimate purposes.

The SSA death index can tell you their full name, place/date of birth and death, where and when they applied for SSI. Most of the time, the applications are filled out correctly and honestly as no one else will see them once they are submitted and they want to receive their benefits with no problem. (With the exception of radio mystic "Rose Dawn", who gets younger with every document she signs.)

After a person is deceased, their work history can be sometimes obtained...this shows who they worked for, and how much they made each quarter from that employer. (This was instrumental in verifying Thurston's assistant, George White's data, when his work history included working for Dante in NYC, confirming it was THAT George White.)

To some not familiar with what is publicly and legally available, it is surprising, even unnerving...but it has always been there. Just like today, many are surprised to "google themselves" and see what is available online.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Diego » November 26th, 2019, 11:53 am

A person's spouse is another way of locating people from previous generations. When Social Security was new, many went down to the SSA office together, to sign up, so it is not unusual to find some who applied in the 1930's, to have consecutive SSI numbers.

Mentalists Princess Yvonne and Doc Irving, and Harry and Frances Usher, are among those with consecutive SSI numbers. (So if you have one, you can access the other, just enter the next digit up or down.)

There are some good books about how to do all this. I wrote an article in MAGICOL a few years ago detailing some of these methods.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby El Mystico » November 26th, 2019, 12:32 pm

Terry Guyatt told me that when Dai lectured in the UK, he did his main lecture, covered in the still-available notes, but there was a separate session, at a price, I think in his room, where he went into more detailed sleight of hand material. This included Lightening the Load from the Lost Inner Secret Volume One. Apparently he slipped the first time he did it, but the second time he performed the move perfectly.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Max Maven » November 26th, 2019, 12:37 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I believe the first what we would consider an actual magic lecture was given by Harlan Tarbell.


Nope. The information can be found in the April 1997 issue of Genii, page 31.

I’ll spare you the effort of looking it up. The first magic lecture in the modern sense was delivered in New York by August J. Rehbein, on November 4, 1905.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 26th, 2019, 4:29 pm

Oh, drat.
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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Leo Garet » November 27th, 2019, 1:14 pm

Bob Reid was a major fan of Vernon and did see him on his fifties UK visit. He told me umpteen times what an eye opener it was and how grateful he was to Harry Stanley for fixing it. And for publishing the books, of course.

Speaking of Harry Stanley, his protege Johnny Hart used the Indian Back design for fanning and back and front palm productions.

Stanley also arranged a deal with Alf Cooke in Leeds to make fake cards and at one stage produced a marked deck in the familiar geometric design. The regular cards, including the Indian Back design, were readily available at Woolworths.

They were still available in the early sixties, but for reasons unknown (to me at least) the finish changed from linen to some sort of plastic. Awful I thought and the end of an era for me.

Leonard Hevia
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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 27th, 2019, 2:00 pm

Great post Leo! Those who have the Vernon Touch book can read more about the 76 Farewell Tour on pages 255 to 259. Vernon did well in Chicago. Jay Marshall cut him a $1,180.00 check for his lecture. He lost a ring in one of the hotels but a maid mailed it back to him in Los Angeles.

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Re: Vernon Farewell Lecture Tour

Postby Leo Garet » November 28th, 2019, 5:47 am

Thanks Leonard. And thanks for being kind enough not mention my major error. "Reid" should of course be "Read". Fingers tripping over thumbs as usual.

I can't find an Edit key, so unless some kind person intervenes, it will have to stay. A monument to Something Or Other.

Sorry Bob.


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