In memory of Charles Raymond Reynolds
9 Sep 1932 - 4 Nov 2010
As a youth he assisted Carlo, the Toledo dealer, both in the shop and on tours.
Reynolds studied Television and Theater at the University of Michigan, receiving
his B.A. in 1954 and an M.A. in 1955.
After moving to New York City, he became an assistant cameraman at CBS. Later, he rose to Picture Editor of Popular Photography and did free lance pieces for other magazines like Time.
Reynolds was the friend and student of Dai Vernon, Roy Benson and Charlie Miller. He became the chief magic consultant to Doug Henning on all six of his annual, one-hour, network television magic specials. He was also associate producer of the British TV series "The Best of Magic" and "Heroes of Magic".
He was consultant on Broadway shows:
" Sleight of Hand (1987)
" Doug Henning & His World of Magic (1984)
" Merlin (1983 )
" Blackstone! (1980)
And contributor to magic works:
" Apocalypse, Vol. 12, No. 7, july 1989, page 1666.
" Ted Lesley's DVD Cabaret Mindreading (2002)
" Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber (2004)
Charles Reynolds, Magicians' Magician, Dies
Douglas Martin Nov. 7, 2010 - New York Times
Charles Reynolds, who described his business as providing "chaste,
charming, weird, wonderful and supernatural illusions" - and who proved
it by coming up with two entirely different ways to make an elephant disappear
- died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 78.
The cause was liver cancer, said his wife, Regina, who is his only survivor.
Mr. Reynolds belonged to the circumspect, virtually invisible world of "backroom boys" who help magicians refine their acts. In "Merlin," a 1983 Broadway musical starring Doug Henning, he figured out how to make a live white horse and rider vanish into thin air. In "Blackstone!," a 1980 Broadway show, he helped Harry Blackstone Jr. bifurcate his wife with a buzz saw.
He was producer, director, magic creator and magic consultant for television, stage and film productions from Hollywood and Broadway to London, Paris and Hong Kong. He was chief magic consultant to Mr. Henning for all eight of his annual one-hour network magic specials. The first, in 1975, attracted 50 million viewers.
He shared magic with Jim Henson, Woody Allen, "Saturday Night Live," the Metropolitan Opera and the organizers of a birthday party for Mickey Mouse.
He wrote or helped write a half-dozen books on magic, one of which provided insight on how to saw a woman in half with a rope. He was a major collector of things magical, including the trunk used by John Nevil Maskelyne, a magician whose tricks live on.
Mr. Reynolds's expertise was as well known to magicians as it was unknown to the general public. Among many honors, he was the 2004 magician of the year and was named one of the 100 most influential figures of 20th century magic in a Magic magazine poll.
He lived in a little house in Greenwich Village crammed with magic books, mummy cases and antique posters, including a dozen of the American magician who went under the Chinese name Chung Ling Soo and who became an instant legend in 1918 when he died by muffing the trick of catching a bullet in his teeth.
Mr. Reynolds's knowledge of magical history was deep and quirky. He could tell you all about one Professor Lamberti, a vaudeville and burlesque performer who did magic tricks in addition to being the "world's daffiest xylophonist." As a stripper squirmed behind the professor, he welcomed the audience's applause as his own.
Mr. Reynolds said that since Victorian times there have only been a dozen or so real tricks, with limitless variations. Magicians succeed, he said, by manipulating people's own assumptions - call it misdirection - and never by lying.
"People don't particularly enjoy being made fools of,"
Mr. Reynolds said at a seminar on theatrical illusion in 2008.
Charles Raymond Reynolds was born on Sept. 9, 1932, in Toledo, Ohio. At age 7, he went to the local Paramount Theater to see Harry Blackstone Sr., who estimated he had pulled a total of 80,000 rabbits out of his hat over his lifetime. Young Charles had a new hero and was inspired to acquire his first magic set, the Gilbert Mysto kit. He later worked in a magic shop.
"Like most boys, he was interested in magic," his wife said. "But most of them grow out of it. He never did."
Mr. Reynolds earned bachelor's and master's degrees in theater from the University of Michigan, worked as a television cameraman, taught photography, worked as photo editor for the Ziff-Davis magazines, and did freelance photography and writing.
While working on an article on magic's popularity, he met Mr. Henning, who asked him to be his consultant. Soon other magicians sought his help, and Mr. Reynolds was on his long roll. His almost preternatural knowledge came from reading, his wife said.
Along the way, he found time to help show that Uri Geller could not bend spoons with mental powers. He introduced Diane Arbus to the Amazing Randi, who in turn led her to some of the sideshow personalities she photographed so memorably. He once whipped up a trick for Harry Blackstone Jr. in a cab on the way to a live television show. He lectured at the Smithsonian.
How spectacular were Mr. Reynolds's illusions? Here is what the younger Mr. Blackstone said as he and Mr. Reynolds plotted a new levitation act in Mr. Reynolds's living room on a sunny August afternoon in 1988:
"I would like for someone at the end of the 21st century to say that the Reynolds illusion was created for Blackstone in the last years of the 20th century, and that nothing since has come close."
Mr. Blackstone performed the levitation in Las Vegas on Labor Day 1996. Was it the best ever? Gay Blackstone, the widow of Harry Blackstone Jr., who died in 1997, thinks it was awfully good. She was the one who floated upward, as curtains on every side rose to reveal no visible supports, from either below or above.
As for the audience, she said in an interview, they had seen something spectacular that they could not explain.
Charles Raymond Reynolds (September 9, 1932 - November 4, 2010)
was a behind-the-scenes magician involved with virtually every elements of
magic production-inventing illusions, producing and direction magic acts,
helping performers perfect their acts, and writing on the subject.
Reynolds was born in Toledo, Ohio, and as a child, he saw Harry Blackstone, Sr. perform. Reynolds was immediately drawn to magic, starting with a Gilbert Mysto Kit.
He majored in theater at the University of Michigan, and earned his masters degree there too. He undertook a number of jobs in media and journalism. He met Doug Henning while writing an article on magic, and Henning hired him as a consultant. He was chief magic consultant for Henning's popular network TV magic shows, which ran from 1975 for nearly a decade. He did other work with Henning, including Merlin.
He also worked frequently with Harry Blackstone, Jr., the son of his childhood hero. He designed numerous illusions for Blackstone, Jr., including assisting him in cutting his wife in half with a buzz saw for the Broadway production of Blackstone!, and creating a new levitation illusion for a live show in Las Vegas.
He invented two different ways to make an elephant vanish, and made a horse and rider disappear.
He produced and directed productions all over the world and in various media-live, film, and television, wrote and co-wrote extensively on magic, collected notable magic memorabilia, and lectured at the Smithsonian.
He died of liver cancer at the age of 78 at his (Greenwich Village, New York County, New York, United States) home. He was survived by his wife Regina.