"Mr. Magic" Harry Collins
It was 1975 and possibly the best magic show I'd ever seen. He had a good looking assistant and a deft gentlemanly way about him even though he did a trick with a three cupped bra. I had never seen the tricks he performed and they were accompanied with good music although it sounded like it was coming from a record player in the balcony.
I was taken by surprise with his dove productions because I had only seen that on television, never in person. Even a trick like the color changing plumes looked like real magic in his hands. It was a show that very much affected me. After the assembly I spoke to him & helped carry some gear out to his station wagon. I thought I heard the Star Spangled Banner when he lifted the last case.
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Originally from Glasgow, Kentucky, Harry Leon Collins became interested in magic as a teenager after learning a trick from local attorney Edward Smith. He served as a Marine in World War II and was assigned to Special Services after being wounded at Saipan. There he became a magician in Bob Crosby's " This Is The Army Show. " In 1952 he began work as a salesman for the Frito Lay Corporation where he would stay for 45 years. Harry later became a sales manager and in 1970 was given the full time job as corporate magician. " Mr. Magic " as he was known locally and nationally performed at large grocery conventions, food fairs, trade shows, hospitals civic clubs and schools. The magic word for his all of his tricks..."Frito Lay!"
Years later in the early eighties I was able to meet him again through the Louisville Magic Club. I remember a show several of us attended at Medora Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky. Maxine his wife and assistant became stuck in the Zig Zag Illusion. It's the one where the performer puts someone in a tall box, then pulls the mid section of the person out to the side, but you still see their head and feet where they belong. He couldn't put her back together in one piece so he just pushed her and the box around behind the curtain then came back out to finish the show. He was pretty funny in his own way.
At a Louisville Magic Club close-up magic contest he was to judge, he said " Those of you that have practiced... well that'll show. And those of you that didn't ...well that'll show too. " Harry Collins died May 3, 1985. There is a life sized statue of him at his grave site in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky. It is rumored that you may faintly hear The Star Spangled Banner at his site on days when there is no wind.
Well now you know a little bit about the chemistry that made me the magician I am. But how I built a show business is a whole different tale. Next-how it all began...
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