The Last Greatest Magician in the World: Howard Thurston Versus Houdini & the Battles of the American Wizards

By Jim Steinmeyer

Now in paperback, the acclaimed biography of the magician's magician, Howard Thurston.

“There isn't any higher specialist at the heritage of level magicians than Jim Steinmeyer. His deep wisdom of the topic, mixed with a notable mastery of magical information, makes this e-book a wise, remarkable learn. i will not suggest it enough!”

—Neil Patrick Harris

 “Steinmeyer produces an interesting full-length biography of the guy Orson Welles referred to as ‘the master’…Steinmeyer recovers, from the shadows of his maximum rival, a determine whose grandiose productions have been an American establishment for nearly 30 years.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Magician and writer Jim Steinmeyer rescues a forgotten American icon from Houdini’s shadow.”
—AARP: The Magazine

“Thurston could have been forgotten, yet The final maximum Magician on the earth ably resurrects his legend and his awe-inspiring magic.”
—The Onion A.V. Club

"An erudite, hard textual content filled with tough questions"
—Kirkus Reviews

Here is the seminal biography of the magician's magician, Howard Thurston, a guy who exceeded Houdini within the eyes of showmen and enthusiasts and set the normal fro how level magic is played today.

Everyone is aware Houdini-but who used to be Thurston? during this wealthy, shiny biography of the "greatest magician within the world," celebrated historian of degree magic Jim Steinmeyer captures the profession and controversies of the wonder-worker extraordinaire, Howard Thurston.

The public's fickleness over magicians has left Thurston all yet forgotten this day. but Steinmeyer indicates how his tale is among the so much notable in express company. in the course of his lifestyles, from 1869 to 1936, Thurston effectively navigated the main dramatic adjustments in entertainment-from highway performances to sideshows to wagon excursions via America's still-Wild West to degree magic amid the glitter of grand theaters. Thurston turned considered one of America's most famous vaudeville stars, boldly appearing an act with only a handful of cards, after which had the foresight to go away vaudeville, increasing his exhibit into an extravaganza with greater than 40 hundreds gear and costumes. His traveling construction used to be an American establishment for almost thirty years, and Thurston earned a model identify equivalent to Ziegfeld or Ringling Brothers.

Steinmeyer explores the degree and mental competition among Thurston and Houdini in the course of the first a long time of the 20th century-a contest that Thurston gained. He received with an even bigger convey, a extra winning popularity, and the name of America's maximum magician. In The final maximum Magician within the World, Thurston's magic express is printed because the person who animates our collective memories.

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His vehicles will be full-sized light-weight automobiles hooked up to lengthy palms that moved at a middle aspect, just like the fingers of a clock. automobiles within the middle of the degree have been presupposed to preserve the automobiles spinning. Thurston filed a patent for the hot car race, and the criminal papers recommend quite a few, determined options to make the discovery paintings. for instance, the autos misplaced momentum as they reached the again of the level, so stagehands have been pressured to push the automobiles up an incline so they might achieve velocity prior to the palms pulled them round to their subsequent front.

The remainder of the trick was once comprehensive by means of the conventional magician’s fare: forcing playing cards and palming playing cards. like all sturdy trick, it most likely didn’t look unexpectedly, as though by means of magic, in Boulder or Bolt, yet was once labored out via trial and mistake because the Thurstons traveled west. As Howard grew convinced with the recent trick, he and style came across how you can enhance it. via putting a number of horizontal threads around the level, Thurston may perhaps swap his place, relocating nearer or further from the viewers. Grace additionally advised a less complicated method of weights offstage and an easier cardboard flap at the again of every card.

For somebody who has ever watched a magic exhibit and dared to invite “How is it performed? ” i am hoping that I’m in a position to offer a couple of solutions. In go back, Howard Thurston offers an fascinating secret to the reader: “Why used to be it performed? ” constantly, firstly of the twenty-first century we understand a magic convey as out of date simply because we think the typical cliché of this sort of functionality, evoking the dusty traditions of vaudeville, the intense footlights, and the rat-a-tat type of one indistinguishable performer after one other.

Census. Thurston’s early exhibit enterprise profession is taken from the Grace Thurston manuscript, Grace Thurston and William L. Rohde, My Magic Husband, Thurston the nice (Phil Temple, 1985), the unique of that's now in Rory Feldman’s assortment. Thurston’s time with Sells Brothers is stated in Harlow Hoyt’s city corridor this night (Bramhall condo, 1955). Houdini’s organization with the Columbian Exposition is from William Kalush and Larry Sloman, the key lifetime of Houdini (Atria, 2006), and the Dahomey Village is defined in guidebooks and picture books of the reasonable, in addition to Bernth Lindfors (editor), Africans on level (Indiana college Press, 1999).

The next yr, they'd either be tangled in a sequence of séances, during which the ghost of Houdini it appears back to offer Bess a coded message. The Ford and Houdini séances have been lowered to a couple of foolish claims and denials, proving not anything. either Mrs. Houdini and Arthur Ford have been branded as opportunists, or, probably, “publicity looking showmen. ” In might 1928, Thurston was once invited to provide a unique handle at St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Detroit. It used to be an strange chance to achieve his dream of talking from the pulpit.

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