Harry Blackstone, Jr.
|Harry Blackstone, Jr.|
Blackstone in 1976.
|Born||Harry Blackstone, Jr.
June 30, 1934
Three Rivers, Michigan, USA
|Died||May 14, 1997
Loma Linda, California
|Predecessor||Harry Blackstone, Sr.|
Blackstone was born Harry Bouton Blackstone Jr. in Three Rivers, Michigan, the son of noted stage magician Harry Bouton Blackstone, Sr. (also known as "The Great Blackstone"). As an infant, he was used as a prop in his father's act.
Rather than utilize the routines his father developed, Blackstone developed his own and modernized his performance, though onstage he would, on occasion, perform a sequence of his father's illusions in a period setting.
Harry Blackstone, Jr. created four levels (beginner to advanced) of magic kits that were the best selling in the field. In the early 1970s, he promoted a "PF Magic Wedge Kit" on a television commercial for PF Flyers sneakers, and he appeared on several commercials for Jiffy Pop popcorn.
In 1985, on the 100th anniversary of his father's birth, Harry Blackstone, Jr. donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. the original floating light bulb — designed and built by Thomas Edison — and the original Casadega Cabinet, used in the "Dancing Handkerchief" illusion. This was the first donation accepted by the Smithsonian in the field of magic.
Blackstone appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show, Donahue, The Today Show, Reading Rainbow and The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. He also made occasional appearances as the mysterious Dr. Mephisto on the TV soap opera Santa Barbara. Of his several TV specials the PBS two hour special was unique due to the intros by Waldo and Emerson of The Muppets. Blackstone's PBS Square One TV, where he used magic tricks to teach mathematics to young people was a favorite of his. His recurring segment was known as "Backstage with Blackstone."
Blackstone also designed the illusions used on SeaWorld's water show featuring the DC Comics super heroes. They included The Joker cutting Batgirl up into multiple pieces, a variation of a classic multi-box illusion, and the first use in many years of the Jarrett pedestal to vanish Wonder Woman.
Blackstone and his wife Gay created and produced the special effects for "The Magic Summer Tour" for New Kids on The Block, as well as their "No More Games Tour". He also did special effects for Alice Cooper, Michael Jackson ("The Victory Tour"), Earth, Wind and Fire, and Jane's Addiction with Perry Farrell.
During his career, Blackstone toured the U.S. extensively. Notably, his Magnificent Musical Magic Show played in 156 U.S. cities and Broadway opening in May 1980, where it played 118 performances.
Blackstone received the Academy of Magical Arts Magician of the Year Award in 1979 and 1985. Blackstone performed at the prestigious FBI National Academy Association retrainer session in Chicago in 1980 where he was the featured performer at the formal closing banquet. Unfortunately, he picked a young cajun boy named Mike Goss, from Crowley , La., out of the audience to assist with the magic ring trick. The enterprising and quick witted young man made short shrift of the secret locking design of trick and proved that he was a force to be considered when asking for volunteers from random audiences. At the time of his death he was the most highly awarded magician of all time.
Death and legacy
Blackstone lived in Redlands, California. He died May 14, 1997 in Loma Linda, California at the age of 62 due to pancreatic cancer. After his death, much of his performance equipment was sold off in two highly publicized auctions held by Sotheby's and Darien Julian. Many of the pieces went to collectors, scattered across the world and numerous of the props have made it into actual shows. Las Vegas performer Scarlett now owns and uses his Topsy Turvy. David Copperfield houses the Tire Vanish (performed by Harry Blackstone, Sr.) in his museum of magic. Touring illusionist Aaron Balcom now uses the Owen-built Clown Jammer. Washington state performer John Walton uses his menacing Buzz Saw. Dutch illusionist Hans Klok and Darren Romeo perform the famous "Blackstone Floating Light Bulb" illusion under a licensing agreement with Blackstone Magik Enterprises Inc. It is one of only two magic illusions to have Intellectual Properties.
- Blackstone, Harry, Jr., and Charles Reynolds and Regina Reynolds. The Blackstone Book of Magic and Illusion (1995) 248 pages. ISBN 1-55704-177-6; ISBN 978-1-55704-177-7. (New York: Newmarket Press, 2002). ISBN 1-55704-492-9
- Blackstone, Harry, Jr. There's One Born Every Minute (Los Angeles, Ca, U. S. A.: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc, 1976. Softcover. ISBN 0-87477-329-6, ISBN 0-87477-056-4.
- Blackstone, Harry, Jr. My Life As A Magician Paperback (Aladdin: 1992-05-01) ISBN 0-671-64436-X ISBN 9780671644369.
- He also re-edited his father's Blackstone's Secrets of Magic. Paperback ISBN 0-87980-260-X ISBN 978-0879802608 
- Barry Bearak (May 16, 1997). "Harry Blackstone Jr., 62, Master of the Magic Arts, Dies". The New York Times.
- Blackstone, Harry. My Life As A Magician. Minstrel Books (Pocket Books), 1992, p. 27.
- Houdini.org on Blackstone, Jr.
- Harry Blackstone Jr. donates Harry Blackstone Sr. illusions to Smithsonian.
- Find a Grave, Harry Blackstone, Jr.
- "Contemporary Magic Posters". M-U-M 92 (7). December 2002.
- Eklund, Chris (October 30, 1978). "Harry Blackstone Jr. Is a Real Cut-Up, but Wife Gay Keeps Her (and His) Act Together". People. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
- Burleigh, Nina (October 29, 1989). "Take A Card, Any Card ...". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
- Weatherford, Mike. "Award too late to help magician Hans Klok". Las Vegas Review-Journal.
- "Magic lives in Harry Blackstone Theatre". Yucaipa/Calimesa News Mrror. January 11, 2007. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
- "REDLANDS: Teachers, classified workers honors". The Press-Enterprise. May 22, 2013. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
- "Magic World’s Gay Blackstone to Be Recognized at Hollywood Chamber Community Foundation Event, May 15". Business Wire. May 7, 2007. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
- Blackstone Magik, Inc., History of the Blackstones.
- "Harry Blackstone, Jr". Magician, Educator, and Author. Find a Grave. May 24, 2001. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Harry Blackstone Jr. performance on YouTube.