from Steve Dacri:
I was delighted when Tony Brook called to say he had written this
tribute for Jerry Andrus. Jerry was a special man, and those of
us who knew him or even met him, well, let's just say he touched
magic world has few true geniuses, most of them are gone. Jerry
was one of that rare breed.
recall first meeting Jerry back in the 70's, when we were both
performing at the Tannen's Jubilee in New York's Catskills Mountains.
sat me at the same table with Jerry (and Harry Lorayne, Albert
Goshman, among others) and I got the rare treat, while sitting
next to him for every meal over the course of the convention,to
enjoy the man and share magic ideas and thoughts. I mostly listened,
I was enthralled. He would always have a trick to show, carried
the linkng pins with him, and taught me some moves. He'd ask me
to vanish a coin, then we'd discuss the method and he'd offer
ideas. Over the years, I met him a few more times, talking about
life and magic, and solving all the problems of the world
a generous man, a funny man, and a brilliant mind. I'm honored
to have been able to spend some time with him. Good bye, Jerry.
Magic will miss you.
Now that his
mortal remains have been laid to rest and the magic media have
paid their tributes it is time for me to share my recent meeting
It took place
at his home in May 2007. Thanks to my good friend Michael Roth,
President of SAM Assembly 59, I was invited to Oregon to perform
and to lecture there and in Canada. Prior to my performance Michael
had asked me if I would like to meet and visit with some living
legends of magic, namely Stan Greer, Duane Duvall, Jose Zialcita
and Jerry Andrus. Naturally, I accepted their individual invitations.
drove me over to Jerry’s home. I knew that Jerry had been
ill for some time and during the drive, Michael explained the
nature of Jerry’s illnesses. Although I am now at an age
when I have learnt to accept the “slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune” that Life tends to offer, I still have a singular
lack of understanding as to why such great minds have to endure
such great hardship.
visited Jerry before and knew the route to his home. We arrived
and Michael parked the car. Together we walked up a small drive,
climbed two steps and knocked on the door. I was expecting a small,
wizened and frail old man that that gone a few hundred rounds
with Life but to my amazement the man that greeted us and invited
us in was an erect, tall, bright and alert - Jerry Andrus. The
face had aged somewhat but the distinct features were still there
including a full head of hair. Age whitened but full and lustrous
door led immediately into a room some four by six feet. I could
tell it was at one time larger but years of clutter and strange
looking objects had shrunk its size. It housed, in a manner of
speaking, a cacophony of objects that had seen better days and
it was cluttered, quite literally, from floor to ceiling with
a collection of some very odd and strange looking contraptions
that created further dissonance. It exuded an ambience of antique
shop meets Heath Robinson in a garage sale next to a junk yard.
I am not being in the slightest disrespectful, but merely trying
to describe and convey in the best way possible the sight that
greeted us. Those who knew Jerry and have visited him will know
exactly what I mean and to those who did not it doesn’t
I have, over
the years been very fortunate to meet and spend quality time with
some of the greatest magicians of the world, real old-timers (I
use this word with respect and admiration) who had earned their
accolades the hard way. All true gentlemen and ladies of the Art.
Walter Blaney, Mark Wilson, Nani Darnell, Bill Palmer, Jerry Grey,
MarcoM, Bob Blau, Celeste Evans, Jon Racherbaumer, Ali Bongo,
Pat Page are just some of the names that spring to mind. How fortunate
that the fates decreed that I was able to include Jerry Andrus
to the list.
I had, in
common with those of us who value and respect our Art, spent some
time studying the life and work of this remarkable magician. Despite
his illness, his mind was sharp and he conducted himself with
great dignity. I was overwhelmed by his courtesy and gentleness.
There was, and I’m sure those who knew him will also testify
to this, an aura about Jerry that made him instantly likable.
There was very definitely something of the William Blake’s
Ancient of Days like image about him. Kind, benevolent, humorous
and all-knowing are adjectives that spring to mind. Of course,
it is totally and completely ironic that those words spring to
mind because Jerry was a confirmed atheist.
we had a wonderful and delightful debate about the existence of
God. I felt totally honored and privileged to have the opportunity
to discuss so vast and controversial topic with so great a mind.
Although he would stop occasionally during our conversation and
tell me that he had a stroke, and that his mind was ageing. Nevertheless,
there was no evidence that it had effected him in the slightest.
We talked about Magic briefly and the topic of my forthcoming
show in Oregon, came up. He told me that I was taking on way too
much to give a 90 minute show on Mentalism.
minutes later after we had waxed lyrical on the topic he made
some very complimentary remarks and then announced that he would
like to attend my show. I happily told him it would be a great
honor for me. Michael quickly intervened and said he would arrange
all the logistics of transportation to & from Jerry’s
home. To the best of my knowledge, it was, most likely the last
full live magic show he saw. Tom Waldrop and Bill Beach opened.
Robert Neary kindly videoed.
the door opened and a very elderly gentleman walked in carrying
an egg. The conversation stopped momentarily. The elderly gentleman
nodded in our direction and said, “You want the egg?”
up from his chair, “Not right now”. The elderly gentleman
nodded again, “ Ok, I’ll come back; but I’ll
leave the egg”. I felt that I was part of a rehearsed surreal
was my brother George” volunteered Jerry, “he takes
care of me.” I have no idea why but the humor of the situation
got the better of me and I did my best to suppress a huge laugh
and just grinned. To maintain a sense of decorum, more for my
sake than Jerry’s, I quickly changed the subject, pointed
to a box that was mounted on a strange looking table that housed
an electric cooking ring and wires going in and out of it.
some great explanation about one of his inventions, I asked ,
“Tell me Jerry, what is that?”
a microwave” replied Jerry.
do you use it for?” I asked.
a beat, he answered, “ Mostly for heating food” !!!!
I laughed. Out loud. Jerry smiled joyously.
for us Jerry did show us many of his ‘contraptions’
and illusions, graciously explaining how each one worked. He shared
with us his poetry and his book of made up words. I sincerely
hope that someone publishes both his poetry and book of made up
words. I loved them both. The wonderful thing about the made up
words was that each one seemed plausible and somehow made me feel
that they did indeed belong in the English vocabulary.
we would attempt to leave for fear that we were overtiring him,
he would politely tell us to stay and show us something else.
I will never
be able to do his wonderful personality justice with my mere words,
expect to say that I am old enough and smart enough to know that
I was honored and privileged to be touched by his greatness.
59 in Oregon and The Portland Society of Magicians had a commemorative
coin struck in Jerry’s honor several months prior to his
demise. I proudly own one, which I was presented.
A few days
ago, a public memorial service was held for Jerry. Here is an
extract from my friend Michael’s email exactly as he sent
it to me:
Andrus Memorial went well, lots of people from all over, magicians,
skeptics, writers, movie makers, many stories...most awesome...about
Jerry's honesty, willingness to teach, debate and wonder with
almost anyone...quotes included Dai Vernon's "he's the most
creative magician of the 20th century, and the best close-up magician
I've ever seen" or "he probably wouldn't buy an effect
if it killed him"...one of the kindest gentlest people I've
ever met"...etc His brother George read some poetry he'd
Barry Brilliant (web site developer of www.jerryandrus.org) shared
insights into Jerry's engaging him (Barry) to share his (jerry's)
accomplishments with the world so that his memory, and what he
was trying to teach and communicate, will live on...several of
those closest to Jerry confided in me that the best article written
after Jerry's passing, to date, was in Magic magazine...lots of
displays...Bob Neary, filmmaker talked about the documentary he's
now finishing and played a sample 15-20 minutes or so, Steve Norris,
who the article in OMNI magazine in 1981 and met Jerry talked
about the tremendous impact that had on his own life and how unique
Jerry was...the current President of the Corvallis Secular Society
spoke, Ray Hyman, long-time friend and associate (he and Jerry
were among the original founders of the Mysticians society out
of Eugene) spoke about Jerry's research into cognitive and pre-cognitive
development (Ray is now retired but was Professor of Psychology
at the University of Oregon and one of the top experts in his
field in the US) and said Jerry was probably 10 years ahead of
most of the experts in the field, Jerry lectured to his classes
on a regular basis, magicians from New York, Las Vegas, California,
several locals from Albany, magicians and skeptics spoke about
Jerry's awe at the wonder of life and his living in the present
and savoring every single moment...Dwight Vance represented IBM
and I represented SAM in performing a modified broken wand ceremony
that Jerry had preapproved...through a little miscommunication
I broke the wand a little early so I had to do a "restored
wand" prior to breaking it at the appointed time to good-natured
laughter. All-in-all a fun, interesting, educational and very
memorable time. There were about 8-10 members of SAM 59 and another
6-8 from Portland at the event. I drove and took my brother Tom,
also a friend of Jerry's, and Duane Duvall (Duane remembered when
Jerry joined SAM 59 in 1950). I took some pictures. ………………..………………………
story does not end there. In the penultimate weekend in September
2007, I was on the bill with Ali Bongo and Pat Page at Stirling
Castle in Scotland at The Castle of Magic Event. We three had
some excellent conversations over breakfast each morning. One
morning, the conversation got around to Jerry. This is what Pat
told me, “ You know he never lied. He never ever said there
was nothing in his hand when it contained something and he never
said it contained something when it was empty. All his magic and
sleights were conducted in pure truth.”
For me, there
can be no better tribute about such a great man than from another.
Any further words of mine would be superfluous.
Tony Brook - 2 October, 2007