Wednesday, May 11, 2005

R.I.P. Jay Marshall

One of the last of the great magic legends has died. Jay Marshall started in vaudeville and worked with just about everyone over the last fifty or sixty years. He made numerous appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, usually with his rabbit hand puppet "Lefty."

He was the owner, along with his late wife Frances, of Chicago's greatest and oldest magic shop, Magic Inc. I had the privilege of hanging out with Jay at Magic Inc. on numerous occasions while living in Chicago a few years ago; he was an encyclopedia of showbiz information and a vast storehouse of jokes, many of them unfit for family consumption.

Among the regulars at his shop were a guy who drew for the Ziggy cartoon, an amazing old gentleman who had pioneered the "Rubber Man" act on stage with Ray Bolger (who later went on to use the rubber man style when he played the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz"), and a guy who claimed to have invented windowpane.

The shop itself is a living museum. One time I looked up on a shelf and there were original plates from the Deland Dollar Deck, an early mass-produced trick deck. Wander the back rooms and the Museum; it's like a collector's dream.

Yes, history passes on...

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