Tony Slydini

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Tony Slydini
Title Card
Tony Slydini (left), performs for fellow magician and filmmaker Warren Chaney (right), during a 1966 appearance on the pioneering AFRTS network Sitcom television series, Magic Mansion.
Born Quintino Marucci
( 1901-09-01)September 1, 1901
Foggia, Italy
Died August 21, 1991(1991-08-21) (aged 89)
Orange, New Jersey, United States
Cause of death heart failure
Nationality Itallian
Occupation Magician
Known for Originality, Skill, and Misdirection

Tony Slydini (September 1, 1901, Foggia, Italy – January 15, 1991), simply known as 'Slydini', was a world-renowned magician. His mastery, expertise, originality and innovative approach to close-up artistry, magic earned him a legendary reputation in the magic world.[1][2] He traveled the world performing for the public as well as performing and lecturing fellow magicians. As a result, he served as an inspiration to generations of well-known magicians, celebrities and entertainers, including Doug Henning, Dick Cavett, Bill Bixby, Warren Chaney, Ricky Jay, David Copperfield and countless others.[3][4] Although he was best known as a master of close-up artistry, he continually demonstrated an extraordinary performing ability and during his lifetime was responsible for a long series of books, films and publications highlighting his mastery of the magical crafts.[5] For his work, he received the highest honors that his profession could bestow, including both the coveted Masters Fellowship Award and Performing Fellowship Award from the Academy of Magical Arts.[6] During his lifetime, Tony Slydini was inducted into the Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame as a Living Legend.[7]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Tony Slydini, was born as Quintino Marucci in Foggia, Italy. He was the son of an amateur magician who encouraged him to pursue sleight of hand at an early age. While still young, Slydini and his uncle left Italy to live in Buenos Aires, Argentina.[8] It was there that he began to experiment more seriously with magic. He had no access to books on magic much less personal instruction or magical performing apparatus of any kind. Yet, without any help or guidance, he focused on his craft and reinvented much of the popular magic of the time along with developing many new effects and illusions.[9]

Early on, Slydini was attracted to the psychological aspects of his art, which would continually show itself in his magic in the form of precise and expert use of timing and misdirection.[10] He was inspired by the relationship between a magician and his audience, which fueled his desire to be a close-up artist who would work intimately with the spectators. He became so good at it that he continually fooled the magicians for whom he performed. So much so, that the famous dean of magicians, Dai Vernon, once remarked, “Slydini is the only magician who could ever fool me.”[11]

As a young man, Slydini had worked in South America's version of vaudeville for a time. But soon, the Great Depression struck that continent and work became scarce. In 1930, he moved to New York City, finding a job in at Hubert’s Dime museum on 42nd Street.[12] The Dime museum was designed as a center for entertainment for the working class and in New York, where many immigrants settled, they were popular and inexpensive entertainment.[13] Hubert’s provided the young magician with a grand platform, on which he could experiment and continue to enhance and develop his already sharpened skills. From there, Slydini found work in carnivals and sideshows throughout the country. He was entertaining everyday workers and their families, but gaining valuable experience, knowledge and psychological expertise while traveling and meeting people from coast to coast.[14]

Changing His Name and Moving to New York[edit]

In 1935, while Slydini was playing a museum in Paterson, N. J., the manager billed him as "Tony Foolem", in the absence of any better suggestion by Quintino Marucci, (Slydini’s birth name).[15] The other acts on the bill became friendly with the magician and told him that they thought the name Tony Foolem was a poor choice and between them, they worked out the Tony 'Slydini stage name—the "sly" for being slick, and the "Dini" to follow the vogue for having something akin to the well known name of the successful Houdini. Tony was a shortened name for his given name Quintino and so, thus was "Tony Slydini" born.[16]

On a visit to his sister in Boston during the 1930s, Slydini attracted the attention of an agent, landing a job for $15 a day for a three-day a week show. The agent recognized his skills and flawless sleight of hand which he performed with playing cards, coins, and two ordinary white silks.[17] Slydini was an expert in timing and misdirection and it showed. Unlike the performing magicians of the time, it was audience reactions that guided his performances.[18][19] He remained in Boston for nearly seven years before moving back to New York.[20] It was there, in 1947, that Slydini opened his magic studio located at 341 West 45th Street.[21] Magicians from around the world came to that location for more than fifty years seeking instruction and guidance.[22]

The Traveling Years[edit]

Slydini continued to gain popularity through his public performances including many private club and party dates and would travel the U. S. from New York to California, playing scattered engagements in museums, carnivals, side shows, etc., while remaining practically unknown to the world of magicians.[23] It was finally through magician Herman Hanson, a close associate of Howard Thurston, that Slydini was brought before the local magic fans, eventually going on their public shows, etc., in New York, Boston, and Hartford. From there, he was quickly grabbed to appear on the well known Barbizon Plaza show in New York City where he made an instant hit with his different style of magic. His fame spread and soon other well-known magicians from around the world sought out his company and expertise including the legendary Cardini, Dai Vernon, Okito, The Great Virgil, Bert Allerton, Al Flosso and Jack Gwynne. Eventually, he appeared in Atlantic City before a national conclave of magicians and from there, his reputation as a "Magician’s Magician" was cemented.[24]

Throughout the war, Slydini entertained thousands of soldiers in camps, hospitals, and recreation centers, Between 1949 and 50, he toured the U. S. under the direction of Ralph W. Read, who booked him to give his famous "Lecture Demonstrations" before over 30 magical organizations. Private lessons were also given on this tour, and many club dates as well, in the large cities on the route. Along the way, he performances and demonstrations at magic gatherings captured even more attention from his fellow magicians. Eventually, Europe and Asia requested his presence and he complied. While there he performed publically, made televised appearances and gave numerous lectures and private instruction to inquiring magicians wanting to learn his new form of close-up magic and misdirection.[25] In 1958, he headlined the International Brotherhood of Magicians British Ring’s magic convention. Frank Joglar, reporting for Jean Hugard’s Magic Monthly, wrote, “There is no doubt who was the star of the Convention. It was Slydini, whose close-up work, lecture and Gala Show act were in every detail flawless. Reports from up, down and around the British Isles praised the lecture Tony gave on the tour.” [26] Thereafter, Tony Slydini would focus almost exclusively on teaching and lecturing, illustrating to others his original performing techniques and unique methods of misdirection.

Magic’s Teacher and the Media[edit]

Slydini featured on February, 1951 cover of "The Linking Ring" - a publication of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Slydini became largely unknown to the public but a legend to those in the magic profession. He was constantly featured in the magic magazines and publications. The Linking Ring, a publication of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, highlighted him in their 1951 February issue. However, he did not withdraw from the public and would on rare occasions, agree to perform for television. When he did, the public response was immediate. Once such appearance, in the mid-1960s, was on the pioneering television AFRTS Network program, Magic Mansion. The series was a Sitcom and not a performance program, It would occasionally have guest entertainers such as Patti Page or Guy Mitchell on the broadcasts, but they were also actors while other guests were actors such as John Wayne, Bob Hope and Danny Kaye.[27][28] Although the broadcast series was built around a magic theme, each episode was a story with a script. The show’s director, Warren Chaney, writing of Slydini’s appearance, expressed his concern at the time, “I was a young guy and had never seen Slydini perform and certainly never knew him to be an actor. I was even more worried because each show was broadcast live. On top of that we would have less than three hours of rehearsal. My anxiety was for nothing. This diminutive and very humble Italian magician went on the air, knew his lines, improvised as one often had to do on live TV, and proceeded to steal the broadcast. He was a magician, yes, but a more consummate actor, I have never seen. He could ad-lib with the best of them. We had many guests over the 120 broadcasts, but none of them were ever better than he was.”[29][30][31]

Talk show’’ host, Dick Cavett, wrote about his first meeting with Slydini in a New York Times’ column, “Doug Henning said to me, ‘Tony’s doing a special demonstration for some magicians tomorrow night at Vesuvio restaurant. Come.’ Tomorrow night finally came. For the magicians, sitting for nearly two hours at that table, sudden gasps and intakes of breath abounded. It was like seeing a man walk up a wall. Nothing prepared you for it. Right at the start, a solid, heavy silver dollar, held before my eyes, vanished into thinnest air. And by no method I knew of. Certainly no sleeves. The two hours flew too quickly.”[32]

Cavett and Slydini became friends and soon afterwards the talk show host featured the magician in a televised special, which was so well received that a second broadcast followed.[33][34][35]

Slydini would go on to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and other popular broadcast venues of his time, but this was not his forte. It had become teaching, training, and a increased research and development of the art of misdirection. He was willing to teach and the magicians he served were willing to learn.[36]

Seminars, Publications, and the Closing Years[edit]

A portrait of Master Magician, Tony Slydini, performing at the age of 83.

Slydini’s influence spread across the magic spectrum such that by 1975, his fame led to a major event in the field of magic. Joe Stevens, of Stevens Magic Emporium, organized a gathering of magicians in Las Vegas in March of 1978. The event, attended mostly by professional magicians was a first and it was called the The Slydini Seminar.[37] The annual event grew in popularity and size, becoming known as the Desert Magic Seminar and later the World Magic Summit. Tony Slydini presented three solid hours of shows and lectures, plus additional semi-private lessons available to the 90 magicians in attendance and began a tradition of educational offering to magicians, expanding the number and nature of lectures with an emphasis on variety and versatility.[38] Slydini attended and lectured at the event originally named for him until his health no longer permitted travel.[39]

Over his lifetime, many books on were written about Slydini, his slight-of-hand techniques, the psychology behind his performance and his clever methods of misdirection.[40] There were also films, videos and countless articles on his methods and philosophies.[41] The scientific professions also took an interest and more than ten feature articles were written about his psychological methods for distraction and in particular, willful misdirection.[42] Scientific American published a 2015 research article entitled, The Neuroscience of Slydini's Paper Balls-to-Hat Magic Trick.[43][44]

The magician who taught himself continued to teach others well into his eighties. However, the years eventually took their toll and his health failed. He was confined to a nursing home in Pennsylvania for several years before his death in 1991.[45]

Death[edit]

Tony Slydini died of heart failure on January 15, 1991, following a lengthy illness and confinement to a nursing home in New Jersey. Howard Bauman, the editor of the International Brotherhood of Magician’s publication, [[The Linking Ring, wrote, “A magical light went out on January 15, when Slydini died. For more than 40 years he had brightened the horizons of magic with his special kind of prestidigitation. Slydini was a dedicated student of magic and developed his own style of misdirection and timing that was certainly regarded as truly artistic. Tony Slydini will be missed especially by his legion of friends.”[46]

Quintino Marucci best known as Tony Slydini was buried in Orange, New Jersey. New memorials, books, video and film presentations about the man who changed magic, continued to to be written and produced in the century following the one in which he lived.[47][48]

Style[edit]

Performance wise, Slydini never verbalized a magic word. There were no “abracadabras or hocus pocuses”, however his subtle magical gestures made it clear that he knew something not known, and probably unknowable, to his audience. Audiences saw an elfin quality in him that was unlikely to be duplicated. He created an ambiguous persona which allowed one to believe that maybe he was an elf and that maybe he really did have magical powers.[49] As a close-up performer, he was considered nonparallel by his peers.[50] His almost casual manner of performing made the magical effects he offered those of true magic. His style of close-up was something that had never been seen before. He was one of the first to show close-up magic as an art in itself, rather than as a lead-in to bigger and grander illusions. Slydini's magic was impromptu and rather than follow a set sequence of tricks as most magicians did, he allowed his audience and the situation to dictate his show.[51][52]

Awards and Honors[edit]

Over his lifetime, Slydini received countless awards and honors from around the world including the Masters Fellowship from the Academy of Magical Arts in 1974.[53] The Society of American Magicians made him a Hall of Fame – Living Legend inductee.[54] He also was awarded the Academy of Magical Arts’ Performing Fellowship.[55] In 1952, he became the recipient of the first Star of Magic award given by New York’s Magic Ring and was an inducted member of the International Brotherhood of MagiciansOrder of Merlin.[56]

Publications, Video and Film[edit]

  • The Stars of Magic by Lou Tannen
  • The Magic of Slydini by Lewis Ganson
  • Annotated Magic of Slydini by Lewis Ganson and Tony Slydini
  • The Best of Slydini (books 1 and 2) by Karl Fulves
  • The Magical World of Slydini (books 1 and 2) by Karl Fulves
  • The Annotated Magic of Slydini by Lewis Ganson
  • The Annotated Magic of Slydini by Gene Matsuura, 2011
  • The Best of Slydini and More by Lou Tannen
  • Magician Mentors and Inspirations by Ricky Jay (American Masters PBS series)
  • Bill Wisch Talks About Slydini and More (podcast) [57]

Legacy[edit]

In writing of his life, magician-author Karl Fulves remarked, "There is no question that Slydini is the most influential figure in Close-Up Magic in the 20th Century. His theories and concepts, his ingenious use of psychology and misdirection, combine to produce natural magic of the highest order. To see him work is to see the nearest thing yet, to real magic.”[58] “That sentiment,” said former television talk show host, Dick Cavett, “is the one most commonly expressed by anyone having the opportunity to actually see this great magician perform.” [59]

Best known as a master of showmanship, misdirection, and close-up artistry, Slydini served as inspiration to generations of magicians including many thousands of the famous and not so famous practitioners of the art.[60]

Slydini is considered by many magicians to be one of the two finest, 20th Century performers, teachers, lecturers and creators of artistic, sleight of hand magic. Dai Vernon is the other.[61][62]

Slydini died in 1991.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ganson, Lewis. The Magic of Slydini. Harry Stanley Publishing, London, 1969, p. 10-18.
  2. ^ Eldin, Peter. Presenting the World’s Greatest Magicians. Kingfisher-a Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York, 1997, Page 32.
  3. ^ Jay, Ricky. Magician Mentors and Inspirations, AMERICAN MASTERS, PBS Television, January 9, 2015.
  4. ^ Henning, Doug. Totally History
  5. ^ Fulves, Karl. The Best of Slydini … And More, Lou Tannen, Inc. New York, NY, 1976, pages 5-17.
  6. ^ Larsen, William W., Genii Magazine, Volume 37-Number 12, December, 1973.
  7. ^ Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame [1]
  8. ^ Frank, Gary R. Slydini, The Linking Ring Vol. 92, No. 8, St. Charles, Mo., August 2012, p.112
  9. ^ White, Ted. Biographies, Slydini Biography, Cometa Magico, 2010, pp. 1-2.
  10. ^ Lewin, Rick. An Education in Magic—watching Tony Slydini for the first time, Remarkable Magic, March 4, 2013, p.1.[2]
  11. ^ Jay, Ricky, Magician Mentors and Inspirations”, AMERICAN MASTERS, PBS Television, January 9, 2015 [3]
  12. ^ Bauman, Howard. Slydini Obituary, The Linking Ring, Vol. 71, No. 3, Kenton, Ohio, March, 1991, page 121.
  13. ^ Dennett, Andrea. Weird and Wonderful: The Dime Museum in America, New York University Press, New York and London, 1997, pp 1-14
  14. ^ Haskell, Kari, Slydini, a legendary magician, performs for Cavett, March 27, 2009.[4]
  15. ^ Read, Ralph W. Slydini – The Master of Misdirection, The Linking Ring Vol. 30, No. 12, Kenton, Ohio, February 1950, page 16.
  16. ^ Wisch, Bill. "Bill Wisch Talks About Slydini and More,” The Magic Word, Scott Wells, Producer, New Jersey, April 19, 2012 [5]
  17. ^ Frank, Gary R. Slydini, The Linking Ring Vol. 92, No. 8, St. Charles, Mo., August 2012, p.112
  18. ^ The Magical World of Slydini (text), Fulves, Karl; Lou Tannen, Inc., New York, NY, 1979 pp. 1-17
  19. ^ Frank, Gary R. Slydini, The Linking Ring Vol. 92, No. 8, St. Charles, Mo., August 2012, p.112
  20. ^ Paget, Jacques H., Les grands secrets du monde de l'illusionnisme, Editions d'Organisation; ORGANISATION edition, France, 2006, page 32.
  21. ^ Read, Ralph W. Slydini – The Master of Misdirection, The Linking Ring Vol. 30, No. 12, Kenton, Ohio, February 1950, page 16.
  22. ^ Ganson, Lewis. The Magic of Slydini, Harry Stanley; First Edition edition, 1960, pp. 2-5.
  23. ^ Nathanson, Leon, M.D., Slydini Encores, Slydini Studio of Magic, New York, NY, 1966, pp 11-13.
  24. ^ Nathanson, Leon, M.D., Slydini Encores, Slydini Studio of Magic, New York, NY, 1966, pp 11-13.
  25. ^ Arthur Leroy, Out of My Profonde, Sly, Sly, Slydini, Hugard’s Magic Monthly, Vol. XVI, No. 1, June 1958, page 42.
  26. ^ Joglar, Frank, Slydini, Hugard’s Magic Monthly, Vol. XVI, No. 1, June 1958, p.62
  27. ^ Chaney, Warren. As Television Changed – Forever, Swapsale Magazine, February, 2011, pp 17-22.
  28. ^ Cameron, David, Magic Mansion Revisited, Swapsale Magazine, July 2011, pp 14-17.
  29. ^ Wilson, Jeremy. Important Television from the Armed Forces, from a 1982 Memphis Film Festival interview with Warren Chaney by John Stacy. Radio and Television News, Media history, Issue #36, Vol. 2, 2nd Quarter, 1989.
  30. ^ Cameron, David, Magic Mansion Revisited, Swapsale Magazine, July, 2011, pp 14-17.
  31. ^ Matsuura, Gene, Tony Slydini, Actor, The Linking Ring Vol. 95, No. 3, March 1991, p. 43
  32. ^ Cavett, Dick. Conjuring Slydini, New York Times, March 27, 2009.
  33. ^ Slydini on Dick Cavett Show, PBS Television 1977 [6]
  34. ^ Slydini, Master of Closeup, Magic Magazine, Los Angeles, CA, December, 1975 p.36.
  35. ^ The Great Slydini Makes Magic for Dick Cavett, Epublishers Weekly, April 14, 2009.p. 4.
  36. ^ Goodman, Rowland, The Slydini Lecture, Linking Ring Vol.30, No. 11, Kenton, Ohio, January 1951, pp 2830.
  37. ^ Stevens, Personally Speaking, World Magic Seminar XXXIV 2011 – Summary Review, March 6, 2011. [7]
  38. ^ Stevens, Personally Speaking, World Magic Seminar XXXIV 2011 – Summary Review, March 6, 2011. [8]
  39. ^ Stevens, Mark, 30 Years of Magic and Fun In the Desert World Magic Seminar, Film – Stevens Magic Emporium, February 18, 2007.[9]
  40. ^ Bell, John Bower and Whaley, Barton, Cheating and Deception, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, NY 1982, p. 143.
  41. ^ Cohn, Nik, The Heart of the World, Vantage Books, a division of Random House, Inc. 1992, pp 69-71.
  42. ^ Lewin, Rick. An Education in Magic—watching Tony Slydini for the first time, Remarkable Magic, March 4, 2013 [10]
  43. ^ Conde, Susana Martinez. The Neuroscience of Slydini's Paper Balls-to-Hat Magic Trick, Scientific American, April 27, 2015 [11]
  44. ^ Matsuura, Gene, Ph.D. The Annotated Magic of Slydini, L&L Publishing, Tahoma, CA, 2011.
  45. ^ IMDb (Internet Movie Database [12]
  46. ^ Bauman, Howard. Slydini Obituary, The Linking Ring, Vol. 71, No. 3, Kenton, Ohio, March, 1991, page 117.
  47. ^ Mazza, Raymond B. Slydini Award Ring 26, The Linking Ring, Kenton, Ohio, February 2002, p. 139
  48. ^ Natale, Chris. Slydini Expert Bill Wisch Lectures to Ring 122, Linking Ring Vol. 91, No. 7, MO., July 2011, p. 35.
  49. ^ Goulet, The Golden Years, The Linking Ring, Volume 81, Number 11, Kenton, Ohio, November, 2001, pp. 44-46.
  50. ^ Bauman, Howard. Slydini Obituary, The Linking Ring, Vol. 71, No. 3, Kenton, Ohio, March, 1991, page 117.
  51. ^ Slydini, Master of Closeup, Magic Magazine, Los Angeles, CA, December, 1975 p.36.
  52. ^ Fleischer, Adam, Slydini Cover Feature, Tannen’s Magic Manuscript, (Vol. 6, Issue 6), June/July 1982, pp. 4-12
  53. ^ Larsen, William W. Magical Arts Awards, Genii: The Conjurors' Magazine, Volume 37---Number 12 --- December, 1973.
  54. ^ Slydini, Master of Closeup, Magic Magazine, Los Angeles, CA, December, 1975 p.36.
  55. ^ The Academy of Magical Arts Awards, The Magic Castle, Los Angeles [13]
  56. ^ Bauman, Howard. Slydini Obituary, The Linking Ring, Vol. 71, No. 3, Kenton, Ohio, March, 1991, page 117.
  57. ^ Wisch, Bill. "Bill Wisch Talks About Slydini and More," The Magic Word, Scott Wells, Producer, New Jersey, April 19, 2012 [14]
  58. ^ Fulves, Karl, The Magical World of Slydini. Lou Tannen, Inc., New York, NY, 1979, p.5.
  59. ^ Haskell, Kari, Slydini, a legendary magician, performs for Cavett, March 27, 2009. [15]
  60. ^ Fulves, Karl. The Magical World of Slydini, Lou Tannen Publishing, Inc., New York, NY, 1979, pp. 5-16
  61. ^ Wilsh, Bill. Slydini, Wisch-Craft, 2014, p.1[16]
  62. ^ Starke, George. “Stars of Magic,” Lou Tannen Publishing, New York, 1960, pp.115-128.

External links[edit]