Special NOVEMBER - Page 8

his mom and dad for letting him explore and try things and supporting and encouraging each new twist and turn .
Growing up near Hollywood meant being around some of the worlds best magicians but also allowed visits to multiple local magic stores . All magicians picked favorite shops where they fit in back in those days before cell phones and the internet . Jonathan fell in love with Bert Green ’ s Magic Corner on Hollywood and Ivar , which was started by Bert Green and Jules Lanier , who conducted lessons in the back room , around 1975 . During his time hanging out at the shop he got introduced to the magicians working the Magic Castle including Jim Patton who was also head demonstrator at The Magic Corner . They say if you hang around a magic shop long enough you ’ ll end up working there , and that ’ s exactly what happened to Jonathan . He now got the chance to hang out and learn from the world ’ s best magicians including Patton , Blackstone Jr ., Earl Nelson , Mark Wilson , Jules Lanier , Vernon , Skinner , Dick and Dianna Zimmerman , Johnny Thompson , Charlie Miller , Tony Giorgio , and so many more .
Another person who came in regularly , and would end up being like a second father to him was Dave Madden who was an actor and a magician . Dave was a well known sitcom actor and his most famous role came in the 1970s sitcom The Partridge Family , in which he played the group ’ s manager , Reuben Kincaid , opposite Shirley Jones ’ character . He was also a regular on Rowen and Martins Laugh In . Jonathan and Dave became very good friends . With Dave ’ s remarkable talent in comedy he worked with Jonathan on timing and routining which came in very handy when he started working on cruise ships and even more valuable in diffusing tough business situations later in his life . Jonathan says , “ There is a difference between a magician and an entertainer and the two don ’ t cross very often , BUT , when they do you get a great act .”
It was at that point when he was managing The Magic Corner that the The Magic Castle announced it would start an elite , small and deep program for people under 21 in order that they have access to the Castle , they were to be called the Junior Magicians . Back then getting in was
extremely hard , due to the high demand , and you had to go through several interviews including one grueling one on the history of magic . Jonathan auditioned as a close-up magician with a panel of five judges and had to perform two different acts . With the hundreds of people that tried out , only about 25 got in to the close-up performers group . On his first trip to the Castle he headed straight to the library because he knew they had one of the largest collections of magic books in the world with wall to ceiling books . “ Instinctively I headed for the section labeled M for Magic like I did at normal libraries ,” said Jonathan , “ then it hit me that EVERYTHING in this place was ALL MAGIC ! I was in heaven .” Sitting in the library , chewing on a cigar , was Dai Vernon , “ The Professor ” who always referred to Jonathan as ‘ kid ’. Vernon took a shining towards Jonathan because they were both in the library all the time and JT fondly remembers the books Vernon would tell him to read , then test him on .
At 16 he could only work Sundays at The Castle or work nights but stay behind the stage and never come out due to the liquor laws , and Vernon and Patten , Peter Pitt and Dick and Dianna Zimmerman would come and watch and critique his acts . Jonathan says there is something to be said for the ‘ in-industry ’ to critique you . It ’ s brutal because they don ’ t tell you what you did right - just what you did all wrong . One can only imagine the gold nuggets of advice that these giants in magic offered the juniors . Jonathan credits the Magic Castle as the turning point in his life . He became dertimined to be a full time professional magician and says without the support and encouragement of Milt and Bill Larson and the regulars there he would not have had the courage and training to really strike out on his own .
It was at this time that Jonathan and a friend released their first magic tricks . One was called Lady Leondor ’ s Levitating Lace and the other was called Calculating Genius . At the time a Calculator Force had never been done before and so it caused a minor sensation . “ We even printed our first full page ad in Genii Magazine upside down to cause a stir ”, said Jonathan .
During his time at the Castle Jonathan met some very interesting people and those that he remembers fondly include Carl Sagan who was an American astronomer , planetary scientist , cosmologist , astrophysicist , astrobiologist , author , and science communicator . James ( The Amazing ) Randi was another , and B . F . Skinner who was an American psychologist , behaviorist , author , inventor , and social philosopher . At