Harry Blackstone Jr.
The Blackstone household was a sorcerer’s creative lair, the laboratory where refinements were contrived for such foolery as the Hindu rope trick. The elder Blackstone once estimated that his hat and sleeves had yielded 80,000 rabbits.
However successful the family business, Harry Jr. was advised by his father to find a profession that required less sleight of hand. He did so, going into newspaper reporting, radio broadcasting and television production, all the while avoiding inevitable comparisons with a famous father.
But after his father died in 1965, the younger Mr. Blackstone decided to pick up the wand.
Harry Blackstone Jr., a magician who made handkerchiefs dance across a Broadway stage and globes of light float above his audience, who made elephants vanish and turned beautiful women into Bengal Tigers, who sawed his wife in half 17 times a week during their 23 years of marriage, died at a hospital in Loma Linda, Calif. He was 62 years old when he passed and lived in Redlands, California.
Onstage, Harry Jr. cut a different figure from his father, with dark hair and a goatee instead of a long white mane, spangled tuxedos instead of black tie and tails. But both magicians were always firmly in control, selling their mystery with a commanding glance and a single raised eyebrow. An audience could always count on seeing many of the signature Blackstone tricks, the floating light bulbs, the dancing handkerchiefs, the levitating objects, the sawed-up bodies.
Like his father, Harry Jr. had a comic’s timing. He could rescue himself with a laugh line as easily as pull a dove from his pocket. Volunteers were coaxed from the audience. Little boys would be awarded a bunny,
then gape in astonishment as their new pet was transmuted into a box of chocolates.
”Both Harry and his father played every city large and small,” said Charles Reynolds, himself an inventor of magic tricks and a historian who was co-author of a book with Harry Jr., ”The Blackstone Book of Magic and Illusion.”
”Harry wasn’t lasers and smoke,” Mr. Reynolds said. ”He was a great classical performer who had the voice and the presence of the classical magicians of the past.”
Mr. Blackstone brought his ”magnificent, musical, magical show” to the Majestic Theater in 1980. This Broadway extravaganza called for hundreds of rabbits, a camel, a donkey, a tiger, an elephant and 56 humans, including the patient wife who shared the spotlight with a noisy, 36-inch buzz saw.
”It is a slick touring vaudeville entertainment, with the accent on magic,” wrote a critic for The New York Times. ”Blackstone never falters.”
The Broadway run lasted five months and led to a PBS television program about the show.
Mr. Blackstone was the current vice president of the Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood, an organization of about 5,000 magicians. In 1994, the group honored him with its highest award, the Masters Fellowship.
He was also its Magician of the Year in 1979 and 1985.
”What can you say?” said Milt Larsen, founder of the Magic Castle in Hollywood, a private club that also houses the academy.
”It’s the end of an era. There has been a Blackstone on the magic scene for 75 years.”
He received the Magician of the Year Award
in 1979 and in 1985. He appeared as a guest
on many TV shows including: “The Tonight
Show”, “Donahue”, “The Today Show”, and
“The Super Mario Bros. Super Show’. His performances were also a regular feature
in the “Square One Television” series on
The tradition may endure, however.
Mr. Blackstone is survived by his wife, Gay,
and four children, Bellamie Gay Blackstone,
of Redlands, Cynthia Caswell Blackstone, of
Harlingen, Tex., Adrienne Susan Blackstone,
of Winter Park, Fla., and Tracy Blackstone
Crosby of Hollywood, and one grandchild.
‘I suppose Bellamie could keep the name
going,” Mr. Larsen said. ”I was born into a
magic family and let me tell you, there’s no
way the secrets don’t get passed down.
It’s in the air.