The Making Of A Legend - His Complete UNTOLD Story!
Robert Lund called Percy Abbott "the Henry Ford of the magic business" - Here within these pages you will learn the true UNTOLD story of how one man single handedly restructured the magic business. Written by Rick Fisher and published by the FAB Magic Mfg. Company, you will read first hand the trials and tribulations of one of the greatest figures in magic!
This is a story that will inspire you.
Chocked full of wonderful recollections from and about Ken Allen, Nicola, Carl Ballantine,William Larsen,Sr.,Jean Hugard,Howard & Harry Thurston,Monk Watson,Cardini,Bill Neff, Roy Huston,Duke Stern,Karrell Fox,Arthur Buckley,Hugh Frisbee,James Reneaux,Chami Khan, Edgar Bergen,Jim Sherman,Bud West,Linda Abbott,Syd Abbott,Marilyn Abbott,Marge Abbott,Harry Blackstone Sr.,George Boston, and so many others. The names read like a 'who's who' of magic!
100 GIANT 8.5" X 11" PAGES full of wonderful stories and photographs - some NEVER before seen
(color and black & white) Hard Cover
Including a very special foreward written by Linda Abbott Huff - daughter of Percy Abbott
Insights from the Abbott children on what it was like 'growing up Abbott'
Each book comes with a collector's edition DVD of Percy Abbott performing
some of his signature effects!
The only known video of him performing in color with sound.
From an article contained in the records of the Colon Community Historical Society Museum;
written by Percy Abbott in 1957
There have been many stories from various walks of life on starting from scratch and building a successful business.? This is my own personal and intimate story in that respect and I trust that you will find in it, not only a general interest, but the knowledge that there are always the heights to climb.
There are many times in life when through what we accept as an unfortunate occurrence, if rightfully used, can become our greatest asset. I believe this to be true with most misfortunes of life, if we but knew how to make use of them. They are a prod to greater achievements.
This occurrence in my life was not misfortune, merely a change in my way of life, but one that required adjustment. I had been in show business for many years, had traveled over much of the world?s surface, seeking, not alone business and money, but adventure and knowledge as well. Then suddenly, my life changed and another person became important in my scheme of things. In a small village in Michigan where I had gone for a lazy carefree fishing trip, I met the lady who was to be the future Mrs. Abbott. We were married two years later, but already I was enjoying, for the first time in my life, the lazy luxury of a small town. After our marriage, for a period of nearly five years, we were quite content to work a few shows (she became part of the act), in not too distant pastures and to return again to the home town. Money was not an easy commodity to obtain these were the depression years but we were happy and healthy and there were few requirements. Then, I learned that I was to become a father! Needless to say, this was a responsibility that would require more effort, time and money, so what was ?papa? to do.
Show business was all I had ever really known and I was convinced that I did not want to attempt the difficult task of raising a child while trouping. Neither did I wish to leave what was now my world to travel around alone, missing much of the companionship which I had enjoyed.
It has always been my habit, when required to do any deep thinking, to play around with ideas in Magic. For me, this has been a beneficial way of clearing my mind. So, having something to think through, I went alone to our bedroom and there proceeded to look over an accumulation of odds and ends bits of string, rope, playing cards, thimbles, and safety pins all those little gadgets with which all Magicians are familiar. Suddenly an idea struck! I saw the idea for a new trick in fact, a new principle in Magic. Hurriedly I set about constructing the thing. It soon emerged in a very crude state. Now, to try it out. My good wife was, of course, the chosen victim for this ordeal. If I could fool her, I really had a good trick. I located her in the kitchen, preparing a meal, and I am certain that when I suggested she cease her labors to look at a trick, she could have gleefully thrown straight at me the skillet which she was holding. However, being a fairly amicable individual, she stopped and watched the miracle. AND SHE WAS FOOLED! My conversation went something like this, We're going to start a Magic business, manufacturing tricks, and THIS is the first one. The trick was named Squash. It consisted of the instantaneous disappearance of a glass of liquid. Many people have asked me, why the name Squash the naming of the effect was a snap decision, as have been all my decisions through the years, in this crazy business. The name had sprung up from the recesses of my mind a hangover from my childhood, for in my native country of Australia, I had had many times as a child partaken of a soft drink known as Squash?.
Thus, a business was born. Our bank account was well under a hundred dollars and I could see many future bills looming, but in small quantities we purchase the needed articles to produce the little trick. Another and another trick was added from my mental storehouse. (Now I knew the reason for the many years of traveling the world, of seeing Magic in India, China, of going into out-of-the-way places to see Magic never seen by white men before.) This coupled with the kindness of other people made it possible for us to hold on until the business started to build up. In passing, I want especially here to mention the kindness of a good friend, one I had met and known in many countries throughout the world, a great Magician and a great man. Will Nicola. It was to Will I wrote for a small loan to tide me over a short period. Needless to say, my request was immediately granted. His loan gave me not only money, but courage and faith as well.
The business had been started only a short time when a young man, interested in this strange thing called Magic, came to me and asked to toss in his lot with mine to further the interests of this new venture. Thus, the partnership between Recil Bordner and myself got its start, and together, without ever an argument or a critical word, we have operated this unique factory for twenty-three years. His patience and ability have been a great balance wheel for my rather stormy and rapid-fire nature.?
* * * * * *
HISTORY OF GET-TOGETHER
In another portion of this program you have read about the starting of this unique business. It all happened in the year 1934. Originally the business was conducted in upstairs quarters, rented at a very nominal fee. After Recil Bordner joined forces and expansion was the aim, we began looking around hopefully for more space. Within a very short time a building of sorts was available. It was a building in which had been housed for many years, a Buggy factory. The buggy referred to here is the horse-drawn vehicle of the B. A. (Before Automobiles) era. In fact, when we took over the building there still remained, wrapped and stored up against the uppermost rafters, a fancy ?cutter?, the winter substitute for the buggy. The renovating and moving to this building, an operation which took a great deal of OUR labor and efforts, was accomplished during the early summer months.Already, news of this new venture had reached the ears of the initiated and we were beginning to see the arrival of many interested Magicians.
Because we were proud of our accomplishment and our expansion we wanted to celebrate, so it was decided to invite a number, those followers of the Art, to view our handiwork. The week of Labor Day was chosen for the occasion and that first year the great number of approximately fifty persons arrived. Shows were planned for their entertainment. Gayety, laughter, comradeship and enthusiasm were the order of the day.
That initial affair was such a happy success from the viewpoint of the guests as well as the hosts that, on the spur of the moment, a suggestion was voiced,Lets make this a yearly affair. So came the Get-Together. Like a tiny child, nurtured by happy associations, memories, the bond of true brotherhood, it grew and grew and grew, until in recent years, despite constant improvements, changes, etc., it was impossible to contain itself in the cramped environment of a small town. Housing facilities, eating problems became acute, and thus it has moved on seeking the most desirable atmosphere. It shall always seek for its guests the most that can be offered.
Throughout the many years of it existence THE GET-TOGETHER has remained nonpolitical, non-partisan, and very much non-conformist. There are no barriers erected here. All are welcome the young, the old, the rich, the poor, the black and white, dwellers all, for a short time each year in the sharing of secrets, friendships and memories.
Both Recil and myself have established homes in this community. (Recil has two boys and I have two boys and two girls.) We have been able to provide a good living for our families, but most of all we have found delight and happiness in the thing we were doing and we have, I believe, given much to Magic and its followers throughout the world.
- Percy Abbott, 1957-
His Biggest Surprise Of All Was No Illusion
Passing by a newsagent, Rose glanced at a poster advertising the Pocket Book Weekly stories.
'Australian starts wackiest town in America'? It proclaimed.
"That'd be your father", Rose remarked calmly."You're joking!" Marjorie, 20, laughed. Her dad, magician Percy Abbott, had left Rose and moved to America when Marjorie was seven and her sister, Vida, eight. Marjorie bought the book and opened it. "It is Dad!" she gasped.
The story said Percy, 50, had turned the township of Colon in Michigan into an illusion trade fair, where magicians could buy and sell tricks ranging from a magic wand to a box that could make an elephant disappear.
It was the first time Marjorie had heard any news of Percy since he'd left 12 years earlier. The girls hadn?t missed him at all. Their doting mother had more than made up for his absence. But, as she read in the article, the few memories she had of Percy flowed clearly into her mind.
He was an eccentric magician and loved performing. He was always dreaming up a new illusion. Marjorie, four, crouched inside the box with Vida, five. It was covered in thick chains. Percy carefully wheeled the box onto the stage and opened it to show the crowd that it was empty. "When I clap three times, two girls will magically appear in the box", Percy announced.
Vida and Marjorie were hidden in the box's special compartment. Then Percy turned back to face the audience and clapped once.
Using the secret door, Marjorie and Vida stuck their heads out of the box and appeared to the crowd.The crowd cheered, but Percy swiveled round. "Wait until I clap three times", he reminded the girls.
This was the first time her father had used Marjorie in his magic act. He was touring from Sydney to Cairns, Qld, in a horse-drawn caravan. In every small town Percy found a hall to perform in. People flocked to see him. After the show had finished, Percy said to Rose. "I won't use them again. They're too young !" A few month later Percy winked at Marjorie. "The audience is quiet, he said. I'll give you three pence if you'll go out there and sing Twenty-one Today.""Okay!" Marjorie said, her eyes lighting up. Percy ushered her out onto the stage.
The crowd clapped as Marjorie shyly stepped forward and sang: 'I'm 21 Today' - As she sang, the crowd threw coins onto the stage.
Elated, Marjorie picked up fistfuls of coins. Then she ran offstage with the delighted crowd's cheers in her ears.
"We'll never see a cent of the money he's making", Marjorie heard Rose say as they stood in the street. Her memories vanished and she turned to her mother. The Great Depression was at its height and Marjorie and Rose lived on Marjorie's modest wage as a seamstress. They walked home to their Paddington terrace. Marjorie tossed the book down and forgot all about it. Marjorie's boyfriend, Peter Rice, proposed three years later. At the small wedding her mum gave her away.
Over the next 10 years Marjorie had two daughters, Marilyn and Susan. With the years, Percy's fame grew and Marjorie saw countless news reels which featured Percy performing levitations and putting swords through women in boxes.
"That's your other grandpa there",? Marjorie pointed to Marilyn and Susan. "He's a famous magician". The girls would chuckle at his tricks and antics.
One morning, when the girls were teenagers, Marjorie read in the newspaper: Percy Abbott, 74, renowned magician, has died from natural causes in Colon, Michigan. The obituary gave the name of Percy's solicitor.
"Maybe he left something for Mum", Marjorie suggested to Vida that day. Neither woman felt any grief for the eccentric father they hadn't seen for nearly 40 years.
"Let's find out", Vida agreed.
Marjorie wrote that week. the solicitor replied, saying Percy had left no provisions in his will for them or for his four kids by his second wife, Gladys! Marjorie and Vida stared at each other in amazement. "He's got another family!" they said almost in unison.
Neither had any idea Percy had remarried, but both were excited to learn they had half-siblings. Soon after, Marjorie received a letter from Gladys: "Percy told me he had no obligations in Australia. So I was surprised to hear about you and Vida. You have four half-sisters and half-brothers: Marilyn, Linda, Sydney and Jules."Thrilled to have heard from Percy's second wife, Marjorie wrote back without delay. Soon the pair were exchanging long letters about Percy's life in America and Australia. Marjorie learned Percy's other children had also participated in his illusions.I corresponded with Gladys for many, many years, Marjorie, now 85, says from her Tuggerwong, NSW, home.
Gladys even visited us in Australia and, after she died, I began writing to my half-sisters.
Our father was a born magician ~ definitely the wackiest Australian in America!