The I.B.M. Blog & Articles

The International Brotherhood of Magicians

30 Mar

12 Magic People Honored in April Broken Wand

Category: Broken Wand   Posted by: C. DENNIS SCHICK




Franz Czeisler, 99, of Las Vegas, Nevada, died March 2, 2016, just three months from his one hundredth birthday. Affectionately known as “Senor Tihany,” or just “Tihany,” he was the founder with his late wife of Tihany Circus Spectacular. Born in Hungary, he learned magic as a boy from German magician Alfredo Uferini, and later in Uruguay from Blacaman. During World War II he became the artistic director of Circus Bucharest in Rumania, beginning his lifetime connection to the circus world. While many magicians in the United States may not have heard of him, he was a household name in Latin America. While he was performing in Europe after the war, the consul from Brazil saw him and invited him to come to his country. Franz did, in 1953, saving enough money soon to buy his own 400-seat tent and start a circus. He traveled all over Latin America with Circus Tihany, growing to a 4,000-seat tent and needing fifty trucks to haul everything. A highlight of each performance was the magic; the public loved magic. He lived in Las Vegas since 1985. Survivors include his son Ludwig (Carmen); two grandchildren, Alejandro (Sandra Silva) and Catherine (Jose) Ortero; and four great-grandchildren.




Paul Daniels, 77, of Berkshire, England, died March 17, 2016 from brain cancer. He was a former member of the I.B.M. (1980-2000). Born in the South Bank area of Middlesbrough, his interest in magic began in his youth when he read a book “How to Entertain at Parties,” and began performing tricks for his friends and family before branching out to local youth clubs. As a short and shy child, magic give him the confidence to step forward. While he did his national service, he performed magic for his fellow soldiers. After the service he joined his parents in their small grocery business, but continued to perform at local clubs in the evenings. Soon he opened his own grocery store. He married Jacqueline Skipworth in 1960, and they performed as The Eldanis, using letters in his surname. His big break came in 1969 when he was offered a summer session in Newquay. Encouraged, he sold his grocery shop and became a full-time entertainer. After appearing on the talent show Opportunity Knocks, a television executive gave him a regular spot on The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club and his television career took off. The following year he joined the BBC with The Paul Daniels Magic Show, which ran for fifteen years to big audiences. A segment of that show was Bunco Booth, in which he exposed unscrupulous tricksters. In 1988 he married his stage assistant, Debbie McGee. He had a six-week run in The Magic Man in London in 1994, and created and staged special effects for shows such as Phantom of the Opera and Cats. In recent years he even appeared on such television shows as The Farm, X-Factor: Battle of the Stars, and Strictly Come Dancing. Survivors include his wife, Debbie; and three sons from a previous marriage, Martin, Paul and Gary. The Daniels family has set up a fundraising website for several charities, including the hospital which treated him. An In Memoriam appears elsewhere in this issue.




James Cone (J.C.) Doty, Jr., 88, of Woodstock, Georgia, died February 29, 2016. His I.B.M. member number was 15024, and he had been a member since 1955. He was a member of the Order of Merlin Excelsior (sixty years a continuous member). He also was a member of Ring 9 (Atlanta, Georgia), Ring 275 (Macon, Georgia), and Ring 2100 (The Universe). He served in the U.S. Army during World War II. According to the cover story in the August 1989 issue of The Linking Ring, he was a character with a capital “C.” He took up magic in his youth in Macon, Georgia, spending much time at Will’s Novelty Shop. He served in the Merchant Marines before getting drafted in the Army. He was a world-class tinkerer, becoming proficient in woodworking, metalworking, glass-blowing, electrical, and origami. He even taught himself to write cursive backwards. He was widely known for his “Drunk Act.” He also performed a two-person act with Bob Carver called “Heavy and Weight.” He spent over thirty years in the custom neon sign business, branching out to build custom-made magic props. He built much of Tom Mullica’s Tom Foolery in Atlanta, such as the neon sign, the special effects (including lighting and sound), and the bar itself. He also made gags and props for Excelsior Productions (Phil Willmarth’s company). Survivors include his wife, Mary; children Ken (Billie Jean), and Gary (Debbie); three grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.




Recently the I.B.M. Headquarters was notified of the death of Victor James Fichtner, of Birmingham, Alabama. He was a former I.B.M. member. In his late teens he performed magic shows throughout the Southeast. After graduating from Samford and Trinity universities, he taught drama, speech and English in various high schools, as well as at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Montevallo. He himself performed in over fifty roles in various productions throughout the South. He co-founded the Birmingham Festival Theater. He was the Director of the Birmingham Children’s Theater. A “Victor Fichtner Drama Award” is given annually in his honor. Memorial contributions may be made to the Birmingham Children’s Theater.     




Fred E. Foshey, Jr., 94, of North Providence, Rhode Island, died February 24, 2016. His I.B.M. member number was 8169, and he had been a member since 1945. He was a member of the Order of Merlin Excelsior (sixty years a continuous member). He also was a member of Ring 44 (Providence, Rhode Island). He was an accomplished magician who performed in the Emmett Kelly, Jr. Circus and the Shrine Circus. He was a close friend of the late John Calvert. Survivors include his three sons, John, James (Barbara), and Fred III; six grandchildren. and several great-grandchildren. 




Recently the I.B.M. learned that Dr. David Montgomery Gray, 72, of Huntington Beach, California, died January 5, 2015. His I.B.M. membership number was 57718, and he had been a member since 1997. He was a member of Ring 96 (Long Beach, California), and Ring 313 (Orange County, California). He was an active member of Ring 96, serving in several positions (Program Chairman, Contest Coordinator, and Treasurer). He taught mathematics, chemistry and astronomy in Southern California. He loved close-up magic best but also was fond of book tests. Survivors include his wife Karen, and sons Josh and Charles and their families.




Seymour Hittner, 93, of North Palm Beach, Florida, died December 13, 2015. His I.B.M. member number was 46120, and he had been a member since 1990. He was a member of the Order of Merlin (twenty-five years a continuous member). He also was a member of Ring 117 (New York City), Ring 26 (West Palm Beach, Florida), and the Society of American Magicians. He loved to perform comedic magic, thus his stage name, “Scarbelly.” Born in Brooklyn, New York, as a teenager he served in the U.S. Army in both the European and Pacific Theaters during World War II. Using the GI Bill, he attended St. John’s University, while working with his father and brother delivering books for New York’s publishing trade. In 1948 he passed his bar exam, then started a new concept for the time, a truck leasing business. He built that business, and became active in associations overseeing car and truck leasing. He also created a new business to help people with parking tickets, the Parking Violation Settlements Bureau. His son still runs that business. Before he developed an interest in magic, Seymour was into photography, entering his photos in various competitions. He retired to Florida where he enjoyed his last years with his friend, Ruth Turco. Last year two memorable events happened in his life. His old Ring 26, roasted him in New York; and he participated in an Honor Flight where his military service in WWII was celebrated in Washington, D.C. Survivors include his wife, Cynthia, and his children, Marc and Felicia.     




Harry Lee Ohlman, 77, of Mt. Brook, Alabama, died January 31, 2016. His membership number was 22697, and he had been a member since 1969. He was a member of the Order of Merlin Shield (thirty-five years a continuous member). He also was a member of Ring 35 (Birmingham, Alabama). Born in Dallas, Pennsylvania, he graduated from Lafayette College. He started working as a Fire Protection Engineer, and later became an insurance salesman, working for several insurance companies and firms before owning his own firm. Among his many hobbies were his favorite four: magic, golf, Fantasy Football, and ballroom dancing. Survivors include his wife of fifty-four years, Karen; sons Scott and Gary and their families; and six grandchildren.




Recently the I.B.M. Headquarters was notified that Dr. Pasqual V. Perrino, 76, of Silver Spring, Maryland, died September 28, 2014. His I.B.M. membership number was 19261, and he had been a member since 1963. He was a member of the Order of Merlin Excalibur (fifty years a continuous member). A native of Middletown, New York, he earned degrees from Syracuse University, Upstate Medical Center (Syracuse), and the University of Chicago, and completed his medical residency at Georgetown University Hospital, and a fellowship in diabetes at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Washington, D.C. Dr. Perrino practiced endocrinology and internal medicine in Montgomery County for nearly twenty-five years. He was a learned Egyptologist, a psychic entertainer, and an avid scholar of Charles Dickens. Survivors at the time of his death include his wife, Carol; daughter Lisa (Madison) McCulloch; son Peter (Anita), and five grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association, Casey House, or Medstar Montgomery Hospital.




Harold Glenn Todd, 91, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, died February 18, 2016. He was a former I.B.M. member (1997-2010). He was a member of Ring 46 (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), and Ring 2100 (The Universe). Active in Ring 46 until his health prevented him attending, he performed a wonderful Cups and Balls, as well as a beautiful Sponge Balls routine. His muscle pass was the envy of younger magicians. He was a Mason and also loved fishing and amateur radio. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and later served in the Air Force National Guard. He retired from Tinker Air Force Base as an industrial engineer. Survivors include his son, Dr. Tom Todd (a past president of Ring 46) and wife Judy; daughter Terry (Wayne) Findley; four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. A Broken Wand ceremony was conducted at his funeral.




Neil Ace Webster, 95, of Guttenberg, Iowa, died February 2, 2016. His I.B.M. number was 45099, and he had been a member since 1989. He was a member of the Order of Merlin (twenty-five years a continuous member). Born in Waucoma, Iowa, after high school he went to radio school in New Orleans, Louisiana, earning his license. After working as a transmitter for a period, he joined the Army Air Corps and became a control tower operator at Hickam Field in Hawaii. He was there on December 7, 1941. He continued his military service, ending in the Army Reserve on inactive duty. In Guttenberg he was active in community affairs, even serving as mayor. He worked in radio and television with his brother, Bob. He was a pioneer in the cable industry in Iowa, serving as president of the Iowa Cable Association. Survivors include son Walter (Nancy); niece Jeanne Annis; and stepsister Mary Anne Webster.




Edward Gene Wynn, 61, of Hollywood, Florida, died February 12, 2016 from cancer. His I.B.M. member number was 69476, and he had been a member since 2010. He also was a member of Ring 325 (Branson, Missouri). Born in Independence, Missouri, he served in the U.S. Air Force both before and after North Park College in Chicago. In the military he served in numerous places around the world, including Turkey and Honduras, where he married his wife and they began their family (five children). Gene retired from the military in 1999 after twenty-one years, and moved to Branson, Missouri, where he began another career, with the U.S. Post Office. He took a second retirement in 2015, and moved to Florida to be closer to his children and grandchildren. In addition to magic, other hobbies included videotaping, photography, and woodworking. He was active in his church, especially with the children’s ministry. Survivors include his children: son Edy, and daughters Claudia, Mirna Mejia, Diane, and Phyllis; seven grandchildren; sister Terry Puckett; and brother Scott.    







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