15 February 2012

James Randi remembers Ron Leonard

The following is correspondence from James Randi in response to the earlier post Remembering Ron Leonard.  These thoughts have been added as a comment to the original post.  James, thank you very much for making the time to put some thoughts about Mr. Leonard together to share.

(And thank you to The Magic Demon for making this happen!)

I recall that one of the very first magicians I ever saw - live - was Ron Leonard, at a large theater somewhere in Toronto. I sat in the very front row, the music played, and Ron stepped out fanning and manipulating cards. Then he paused for applause, riffled through the deck until he was told to stop, and extracted that card, its face toward him. He pointed at a man on the aisle and asked him to name a card - "any card." The gentleman did, and Ron flipped the card around - it was correct! Only backstage in his dressing-room, did he reveal the secret. It had been a total fluke! His usual line, he told me, was to simply reply to the card named, with "Absolutely correct, sir!" - without revealing the face of the card. He was only right about once every 52 guesses, but I'd been lucky to witness such a moment...

Handsome, well-dressed, well-spoken and elegant, Ron Leonard was one of my early heroes, though he was only five years my senior. In fact, when I was on my own in Toronto as a teen, I responded to an ad offering a room for rent, only to find that it was being rented out by Ron's mother, a spare room that she had available! It was a couple of months before that lady noticed my interest in the conjuring profession, and proudly announced the identity of her son...! I was appropriately floored by the coincidence.

Ron, along with Johnny Giordmaine, Ross Bertram, Dai Vernon, Raymond Lowe, Howard Lyons, Bruce Posgate, Tom Ransom, Sid Lorraine, and our spiritual father, Harry Smith, saw me through the tortures of a top-change, multiplying billiard balls, and various rope-ties until I was able to head off to the USA as a pro. I'll never forget these chaps, all of whom made it possible for me to enjoy a long and happy career as a performer...

James (The Amazing) Randi.

[via The Magic Demon]

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