The Grand Master of Magic® Award
The Grand Master of Magic® Award is a lifetime achievement award presented by the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Incorporated on behalf of the magicians of New Zealand. It was first awarded in 1969 and to date has been awarded on eighteen occasions.
The criteria for the Grand Master of Magic Award was formalised in 1998 and is as follows :
“Its purpose is to honour those magicians who are acknowledged by their fellow magicians to be masters of the art and craft of magic. The recipients first and foremost must be performers of a high standard. In addition they might be originators of magical effects, or administrators giving time and expertise to running societies and conventions. They could be consistent competition winners, or have an international standing, or be known only in the New Zealand setting. But above all they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years.”
Any nomination must also be measured against the standard achieved by the previous recipients.
Frequently Asked Questions :
What is the nomination procedure for the Grand Master of Magic Award?
The time-frame for any consideration of a presentation of the Grand Master of Magic Award is a minimum of six months. Every nomination received is subject to the same rigorous consideration process, which is handled in a fair and transparent manner throughout.
Nominations are considered by the BAM following :
i) an application being received from another officially recognised New Zealand magic club or society.
ii) an application being received from at least two lnner Circle members of the BAM.
Once a nomination has been received, all BAM Inner Circle members are given fourteen days written notice that a nomination for the Grand Master of Magic been made and shall be discussed at the next meeting. Concurrently, all living Grand Masters of Magic are also informed of the nomination and given an opportunity to express their views in writing to the President of the BAM, who will share them with Inner Circle members prior to any voting taking place.
Following an in depth discussion of the merits of the nomination, an Inner Circle ballot is then taken. A vote with no more than two objections is required for the nomination to be successful.
Secrecy is of paramount importance throughout this process as the fewer people who know that an award is to be made, the better. The intention is to surprise the recipient and the magic community, and thus heighten the importance of the ceremony. Any discussion about the possible awarding of the Grand Master of Magic Award should be taken ‘in committee’, and not discussed with persons who are not members of the Inner Circle. Any member confirmed to be to be doing so will be immediately dismissed from the club. Any details regarding the nominee should not be included in the minutes of the meeting, but only recorded after an award has been made. Any related correspondence with non-BAM Grand Master of Magic recipients or other magic clubs/societies should be marked “Highly Confidential” and their members be sworn to secrecy.
The Grand Master of Magic title, medallion and certificate are protected by the New Zealand Trade Mark No. 847437, registered to the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians lncorporated.
For more information or to submit a nomination for the prestigious Grand Master of Magic Award contact Alan Watson QSM GMM, President of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians.
2015 : Paul Romhany
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Paul Romhany
32nd New Zealand International Magicians Convention, Wellington, 25th October 2015
The Grand Master of Magic was first awarded to Edgar the Great Benyon in 1969 and in the forty-six years since then only seventeen names have been added to the list, you Paul Romhany are now the eighteenth member. The criteria for this award is simple :
“Its purpose is to honour those magicians who are acknowledged by their fellow magicians to be masters of the art and craft of magic. The recipients first and foremost must be magical performers of a high standard. In addition they might be originators of magical effects, or administrators giving time and expertise to running societies and conventions. They could be consistent competition winners, or have an international standing, or be known only in the New Zealand setting. But above all they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years.”
Paul you have been judged to be such a person. A Grand Master of Magic. Congratulations.
Let me share with you a little of Paul’s history in magic.
He was born in 1968 in Auckland. At the age of eight he saw his first Charlie Chaplin movie, The Circus, attended a live magic show, and became interested in ventriloquism. He joined the Shore City Magicians Club, an Auckland magic society with an emphasis on youth. At the age of twelve Paul won his first talent quest and began to perform semi-professionally. He is still a member of the Shore City Magicians Club and was its President for many years. He maintains a lively interest in the society and has donated copies of most of his published books and many magic tricks and props to the Shore magicians.
A talented musician he graduated from Auckland University with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1990 and a Diploma in Teaching from the Auckland Teachers Training College in 1991.
His work on TV in New Zealand includes the magic special, The Great Kiwi Magic Show; for two years he teamed with Guy Cater as the comedy duo ‘Double the Trouble’ on What Now?. He was a busy magician, improving his skills with many shows during his early years.
Paul’s big break in show business came when he toured New Zealand and Australia as part of the World Festival of Magic alongside American professional performers Chuck Jones, and especially Ricki Dunn, who became a lifelong friend and mentor.
After many years of experimenting with different performing styles and characters Paul decided to concentrate on a Charlie Chaplin silent magic act, for which he has become internationally famous. Highly entertaining and with no language barrier it is popular all around the world.
Paul Romhany has spent the past twenty-five years traveling the world with his comedy and mind reading show. During that time he performed for the Royal Family of Monaco; at the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood; on high-end cruise ships and television shows. He has toured Europe, North America and throughout Australia and the South Pacific region.
His magic lectures have taken him around the world including South America, Europe, Australia, Canada and the USA. Paul has taught at conventions in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, North America and the UK. He has been a consultant for various performers for both television and stage. For a Singapore illusionist Paul devised a full evening show and created many of the original illusions. He regularly lectures to magic clubs.
He has made a huge contribution to the world wide magic fraternity. He is an executive on the world’s most popular magic chat group The Magic Cafe. A superb magic inventor, teacher and developer of many standard effects, he has released many original, carefully routined magic tricks, books and DVDs. These range from children’s magic, to close-up, to mentalism and stage. If you look up the on-line catalogue for Murphy’s Magic Supplies (the world’s largest magic supplier) you will find seventy-two Paul Romhany products, many that are performed by serious magicians and mentalists around the world both on stage and television.
In 2012 Paul Romhany created Vanish magazine, a free, downloadable, international magazine for magicians. This is a major and outstanding contribution to the world wide magic family. Paul composes the magazine on his computer, writes and illustrates each edition and is the producer and editor. An edition can run to one hundred plus pages. Avidly studied and read by over 120,000 readers it is in its third year of publication and is available on PC as well as an app for Apple and Android phones and tablets.
Paul Romhany has received many accolades and awards. These include :
2014 : The Robert Houdin Award, presented by Stevens Magic Emporium, Kansas (to the Hardest Working Man in Magic)
2012 : Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Top Variety Act
2003 : Coast Association of Magicians Gold Medal, People’s Choice Award (the first non-North American to win this international award)
1992 : Variety Artists Club of New Zealand Rising Star Award
Paul Romhany we salute you. A home-grown New Zealand magician. You may live in Vancouver but you are still one of us. A world famous magician and outstanding contributor to the art and craft of magic. A worthy recipient of The Grand Master of Magic Award.
Our President Alan Watson QSM on behalf of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians and the magicians present, will now place the medallion around your neck as we acclaim you – Paul Romhany Grand Master of Magic.
2013 : Richard Webster
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Richard Webster
Riverina School, Pakuranga, 4 February 2013
There exists a list of New Zealand magicians who have graced the art and craft of magic over a long period, and who have been honoured by their peers as a Grand Master of Magic.
That roll of honour was begun in 1969 with the name of Edgar, “the Great Benyon.” Since then fifteen names have been added. Sixteen magicians in all over a period of forty-four years. A small and select band. That list includes the names of Jack Read, Jon and Janet Zealando, Jim Reilly, Harold Chandler, Francis Newmarch, Peter and Phillipa Evans, Tony Wilson, Graham Grant, Barry Brook, Bernard Reid, Burns Scandrett, Wayne Rogers, Alan Watson, Greg Britt and Ken Bates.
Why am I telling you all this, it is because tonight we are to add a new name to that list. The seventeenth Grand Master is Richard Webster. The award is being made jointly by the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians and the Shore City Magicians Club.
Richard has many credentials as an author, a psychic entertainer, a hypnotist, and prolific publisher of books. I understand that Richard has sold over ten million books worldwide. Other people have noted his contribution to these areas and he has received numerous awards for these accomplishments. But we are more concerned tonight with his contribution to the world of magic.
Richard became interested in magic at the age of eight. His mother read tea leaves and used her wedding ring tied to a piece of string to determine the sex of unborn babies. Richard was too young to join the New Zealand Society of Magicians, you had to be fourteen years of age, so he devoured anything he could read and developed his own tricks and magical style. In later years his company Brookfield Press was to publish twenty-nine of his books on magic.
He had an early interest in hypnotism after seeing the Great Franquin’s show that toured New Zealand in the 50s and 60s, and later he was to publish in the United States his video course, The Richard Webster Hypnotism Show in 1995. It was the first instructional video on how to become a stage hypnotist.
When he left school he worked for William Collins the book publisher and in his early twenties was living in London. One day while in Vienna, walking past a magic shop he went in, purchased several magic tricks, and the magic bug came back again, in the guise of Riccardo the Magician. Richard developed his children’s act with Ronnie the Rabbit. He was a successful entertainer for children’s parties in family homes, and also worked as a magician in New Zealand malls. He competed with distinction in the children’s entertainer and mentalism sections at New Zealand magicians’ conventions. He was interested in ventriloquism and after all these years he still has the Ronnie the Rabbit who sometimes makes an appearance at grandchildren’s parties. From 1972-1998 Richard was a busy children’s entertainer, mentalist and hypnotist.
Richard joined the BAM and was a member from 1987-1995, President in 1987-88 and Vice-President in 1989 and 1991. As well as a stage performer and a hypnotherapist, he authored seven magical videos including The Close-Up Mentalism of Richard Webster in 1988.
But it was the allied arts, that is additional ways of entertaining that were allied to magic, that interested Richard more, and so he increasingly become interested in mentalism and the magic of the mind. Richard is one of a handful of psychic entertainers that dominate the international world of mentalism. He has performed in many venues around the world and his books on these subjects are warmly purchased, avidly read, and willingly endorsed by the top flight of performers. One example: His “Great For Two Book Test” is the book test used by Kreskin, Peter Reveen, Paul Daniels, Alan Watson, Paul Romhany and many other leading professionals.
At the 29th New Zealand Magicians Convention held in Auckland in December 2008, Richard Webster was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of a lifetime dedicated to excellence in writing magical literature. The presentation by the awards committee of Magic New Zealand, like this one tonight, was a surprise, unexpected but deserved.
Webster the book man, who has written over a hundred publications, is interested in helping other promising New Zealand authors. He set up the Richard Webster Popular Fiction Award in 2000, to help encourage New Zealand writers to write popular books for an international market. Richard provides a $5,000 prize for the winning entry each year.
Some of his best writing for magicians has appeared in New Zealand’s own magic magazine entitled Magicana, a bi-monthly periodical for which he has written a column over many years (since the late 80s) sharing some favourite routines and ideas from the vast store of his experience. He has featured in other magical periodicals like The Linking Ring, Magigram, Alakazam!, Magik, The New Invocation, Genii and Vanish magazine.
Richard is Patron of the Shore City Magicians Club, and is a regular attender and performer at meetings. He is keen to develop the skills and abilities of the young magicians, and has donated many magic books to the society’s library.
Before the presentation is made I want to read to you all the criteria for the Grand Master of Magic Award. “Its purpose is to honour those magicians who are acknowledged by their fellow magicians to be masters of the art and craft of magic. The recipients first and foremost must be magical performers of a high standard. In addition they might be originators of magical effects, or administrators giving time and expertise to running societies and conventions. They could be consistent competition winners, or have an international standing, or be known only in the New Zealand setting. But above all they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years. When making the award consideration must also be given to the standard achieved by the previous recipients.”
To this proud tradition we now add a new name. Please acknowledge Richard Webster our new Grand Master of Magic. The presentation of the Grand Master medallion is to be made by Alan Watson, the President of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Incorporated. Mick Peck, President of the Shore City Magicians Club Incorporated, will present flowers to Margaret Webster. The presentation to Margaret is an acknowledgement of her contribution to Richard’s achievements.
2009 : Ken Bates
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Ken Bates
Palmerston North Magic Circle Mini-Convention, Palmerston North, 24 October 2009
Good evening, I am Stan Goudge, Historian for the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Incorporated, and whenever I make a speech at a special occasion like this, it is to announce a special award to a very special magician.
It is special because this award has only been bestowed upon fifteen magicians in forty years. The first Grand Master of Magic Award being made to Edgar the Great Benyon in 1969.
Tonight a new member joins the exalted company of the recipients of the Grand Master of Magic. They are: Edgar the Great Benyon, Jack Read, Jon and Janet Zealando, Jim Reilly, Harold Chandler, Francis Newmarch, Peter and Phillipa Evans, Tony Wilson, Graham Grant, Barry Brook, Bernard Reid, Burns Scandrett, Wayne Rogers, Alan Watson and Greg Britt. Some of these Grand Masters are here tonight – please stand, Grand Masters of Magic that we may acknowledge your special place in our magic history.
Let me briefly remind you of the criteria for the Grand Master of Magic Award.
“Its purpose is to honour those magicians who are acknowledged by their fellow magicians to be masters of the art and craft of magic. The recipients first and foremost must be magical performers of a high standard. In addition they might be originators of magical effects, or administrators giving time and expertise to running societies and conventions. They could be consistent competition winners, or have an international standing, or be known only in the New Zealand setting. But above all they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years.” When making the award consideration must also be given to the standard achieved by the previous recipients.
To this proud tradition we now add a new name. Please acknowledge “Mr Wonderful”, Grand Master of Magic: Ken Bates.
Let me tell you a little about Ken Bates, “Mr Wonderful”. Ken started dabbling in magic in Leicester, England. His friend Brian Lord was a member of the Leicester Magic Circle and had a pet shop next to Ken’s greengrocery shop. So, Ken used to go with Brian to magic conventions and do the odd trick or two. When he met Shirley he was always playing tricks and pranks on people, and when he and Shirley had their engagement party he decided to make his debut with a fire eating trick. Unfortunately too much alcohol saw him blow the cotton balls that were doused in fluid out from his mouth, to hit the floor and burn a lot of holes in the carpet. That did not make a great impression and his fire eating days were short lived. Ken’s dad, Fred Bates, also used to do the odd trick at parties, having been interested in magic as well.
Ken and Shirley, with their two children, came to live in New Zealand and settled in Wanganui.
In 1974 he saw an advertisement in the local paper that said a group of amateur conjurers were wanted to form a magic club. So, along he went – and the Wanganui Magic Circle was formed. He was a foundation member, and so began his journey for the next thirty-five years of magic.
Ken’s first show was for a group of people at the Friendship Club in Wanganui and at that time he was paid with what? A jar of jam, a Pavlova and some ham. I guess that is why he has hammed it up ever since.
Later when the Wanganui Club went into recess he was to join the Palmerston North Magic Circle. His interest in magic grew and he has attended conventions in New Zealand and overseas: Sydney, Melbourne, Honolulu, and Las Vegas.
Ken Bates is a well known name in Wanganui entertainment circles having performed at many different venues. He was a resident magician at the Palm Lounge in Wanganui for fifteen years, performed at the Four Seasons Theatre, Black and White Minstrel shows, Wheeltappers and Shunters shows, music halls, birthday parties, corporate events and well most places really that would have him!
Ken and Shirley have travelled to Vanuatu for the past twelve years and performed at the Waterfront Bar and Grill – their friends Don and Donna MacQuoid always welcome them there. He also was involved in educational magic for school children in Vanuatu.
Their son Paul Bates learned the art of magic from Ken as a teenager – Paul is the third generation of the Bates family to take up magic – and years later became a professional magician in Wellington as Zappo. Over the past fifteen years Ken and Paul have often performed together.
Ken has attended many magic conventions and won not only the Comedy Cup several times, but also Children’s Entertainer, Stage Card Effect and placings in Close-up competitions. The Bates magic philosophy is that magic should be fun, and you should have fun doing it. His sense of fun and the ridiculous is contagious and makes him a favourite of his audiences.
Shirley, his wife, has been a gracious partner in his magic ventures. Her performance in the duo comedy act “Mr Wonderful” is a delight as she subtly upstages the magician and ruins his act. She too has received awards at NZ magic conventions as the Best Magical Assistant. Shirley has often been the butt of Ken’s jokes and comedy acts and has put up with the magic and a house full of stuff for many many years.
Ken is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Tony Wilson Ring 160, and has always be an encourager of magic and a fine mentor, not only for his son Paul, but also for others including Raoul Solomon who as a child and teenage magician made an impact at several magic conventions. Ken has worked on several magic convention committees, notably at Wanganui for the 23rd New Zealand Magicians Convention in 1995 and at Palmerston North the 28th in 2006. He is an active member of the Palmerston North Magic Circle, and is the current President. For years he has travelled the seventy-five kilometres from Wanganui to Palmerston North and back for club meetings and functions. How’s that for dedication to the art and craft of magic?
Ken we salute you. We hold you in high esteem as a magician, a friend and a lover of magic. We hail you as a Grand Master of Magic.
Jon Zealando will present the award to Ken Bates on behalf of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians. And Robin Lucas, Secretary of the Palmerston North Magic Circle, will present flowers to Mrs Wonderful, Shirley Bates.
2008 : Greg Britt MNZM
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Greg Britt,
29th International Magicians Convention, Waipuna Hotel and Convention Centre
Auckland, 31 December 2008
Good evening, I am Stan Goudge, Historian for the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Incorporated, and whenever I stand up at a special occasion like this, it is to announce a special award to a very special magician. It is special because this award has only been bestowed upon fourteen magicians in thirty-nine years. The first Grand Master of Magic Award being made to Edgar the Great Benyon in 1969.
Tonight a new member joins the exalted company of the previous recipients of the Grand Master of Magic. They are: Edgar the Great Benyon, Jack Read, Jon and Janet Zealando, Jim Reilly, Harold Chandler, Francis Newmarch, Peter and Phillipa Evans, Tony Wilson, Graham Grant, Barry Brook, Bernard Reid, Burns Scandrett, Wayne Rogers and Alan Watson. Some of these Grand Masters are here tonight – please stand, Grand Masters of Magic that we may acknowledge your special place in our magic history.
Let me briefly remind you of the criteria for the Grand Master of Magic Award.
“Its purpose is to honour those magicians who are acknowledged by their fellow magicians to be masters of the art and craft of magic. The recipients first and foremost must be magical performers of a high standard. In addition they might be originators of magical effects, or administrators giving time and expertise to running societies and conventions. They could be consistent competition winners, or have an international standing, or be known only in the New Zealand setting. But above all they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years.”
To this proud tradition we now add a new name. Please stand Grand Master of Magic: Greg Britt.
Greg Britt became interested in magic when he was about thirteen or fourteen. His father at that time was employed by Air New Zealand and regularly took his family overseas on holiday, especially to the United States. One year this budding magician saved US$500.00 and spent US$450.00 of it at the Hollywood Magic Shop, Los Angeles. He carried the magic proudly back to New Zealand, practiced it, and began doing little shows for family and friends. He joined the Canterbury Society of Magicians and was mentored by well known Canterbury magicians at that time. He began doing shows at school and in the church and wider community.
He had a holiday job in a department store in Christchurch selling children’s wear, and enjoyed the job so much that he didn’t want to go back to school. He left as soon as he turned fifteen and was employed in a menswear store in Christchurch because he discovered he loved selling, and the clothing business. Greg became a manager of the menswear department at a young age. The head of the department store asked young Britt, who was then sixteen or seventeen, to put on a magic show in the store in the school holidays, and advertised Greg as “Grego the Magician”. Thus was born the entertainer we know today as Elgregoe.
His next job was as South Island representative of Parisian Ties. Why did they give him the job? Because they said “He had the gift of the gab.” I think he still has!
As magic became more and more the focus of his interest and his life, he and wife Sue opened a games shop in Christchurch and then added magic to it. His business expanded and grew and moved to Shades Arcade with an emphasis on mail order magic. He was an early user of the Internet to publicize his magical wares.
In those days he regularly filled his van with magic goodies and drove around New Zealand meeting with magic clubs and magic enthusiasts, demonstrating, lecturing, introducing new tricks and ideas, and selling, selling, selling with that well known gift of the gab. It was a great service he provided, one the New Zealand magic community valued greatly, and missed badly when difficult economic times forced a sale of the business, and put the family finances under great strain.
Over the last seven or eight years Greg has concentrated on school shows and has become a master of the values based programme that mixes magic with the promoting of community values. “You’ve Got the Power” is the theme of the current show performed by this award winning magician, ventriloquist and presenter with his wife Sue. It uses illusions, exotic birds, and amazing props to teach important anti-bullying messages to students. It has been seen at hundreds of schools and by over half a million New Zealand pupils. This work in schools has been highly valued by the Canterbury Primary School Principals’ Association and by Trustpower, Greg’s sponsor, who recommended him to the Governor General for the 2009 New Year’s Honours. So – Gregory Alexander Britt is now a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to education. Congratulations.
Elgregoe has mastered many different types of magical presentation including: birthday parties, shopping centres and malls, strolling magic, restaurant table hopping, gospel magic, working close-up in the Christchurch casino. He themes his acts, and his “Mad Scientist Show” was seen at Reno ’05 in the USA in support of NZ IBM International President Tony Wilson. He has performed and lectured in the USA and at Kidabra, a specialized convention for children entertainers. For many years Elgregoe featured magic on New Zealand Television with Jason Gunn, and performed on Australian Channel Seven with Clifford Warne on Reach for a Rainbow. In total Elgregoe has achieved over four hundred and fifty television appearances.
A regular attendee with his family at New Zealand magicians’ conventions over many years, he is a frequent competition winner in many categories, and has enjoyed the help on stage of his family, wife Sue, daughter Natasha, and son Nick, who now as “Nickleby” is a fine professional performer in his own right.
Greg a consummate professional has always been an encouraging mentor and teacher of young magicians. Seven years ago, in this venue, members of IBM Ring 160 voted Greg to be an International Territorial Vice-President of the IBM, filling a vacancy left by Burns Scandrett who was in failing health. During the last seven years Greg Britt has fulfilled the duties of this role admirably and has been a great ambassador for the organisation in encouraging new IBM members and organising lectures from overseas magicians in the South Island of New Zealand. He is known for his genial personality, his hospitality and friendship.
So Greg on this very special occasion we salute you; we admire your performing and marketing skills; and we thank you for the contribution you have made to our art and craft over many years. We acknowledge you as a Grand Master of Magic.
Jon Zealando President of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Inc will make the official presentation of the Grand Master Medallion. Wayne Rogers will present flowers to Sue Britt for she is an essential part of the magic team that is Elgregoe.
2006 : Alan Watson QSM
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Alan Watson,
28th International Magicians Convention, Palmerston North, 22 October 2006
My name is Stan Goudge. I represent the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Inc; the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 160 Kiwi Magic, the Tony Wilson Ring; and the magicians of New Zealand. It is my privilege today to present a Grand Master of Magic Award. It is New Zealand’s premier magic award and it will be only the thirteenth presented since 1969, thirty-seven years ago.
The new recipient stands in exalted company with Edgar the Great Benyon, Jack Read, Jon and Janet Zealando, Jim Reilly, Harold Chandler, Francis Newmarch, Peter and Phillipa Evans, Tony Wilson, Graham Grant, Barry Brook, Bernard Reid, Burns Scandrett and Wayne Rogers. Some of our Grand Masters are here tonight – please stand, Grand Masters of Magic.
Your ranks will now include another who has made an outstanding contribution to magic over many years. Ladies and gentlemen please acknowledge a new Grand Master of Magic – Alan Watson.
Alan Watson has a lifetime interest in the art and craft of magic, inherited perhaps in his genes from his great Uncle Oswald Ashton, who performed during the First World War, and was one of the eight founding members of the New Zealand Society of Magicians in 1920.
As I recall it, I first met Alan in 1979 when he joined the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians, and it soon became obvious that he was most serious about developing a career in magic. His background in sales and marketing was of great assistance and he has made great use of the media for advertising and promotion.
If I were to detail all of Alan Watson’s magical achievements, awards and accolades it would take up the rest of the evening, so I can only touch briefly on these matters. A magical biography written by Richard Webster can be found on Alan’s web page: www.watson.co.nz
Alan is a good all-round magician having mastered the major branches of our craft. Close-up, strolling, children’s, family, stage, corporate, restaurant, trade show, birthday parties, theme park, shopping malls, and mentalism. They have all been successfully employed with the distinctive Alan Watson touch.
Alan is perhaps New Zealand’s busiest and most successful professional magical entertainer, he is never out of work, and knows that show business is a business that requires promotional and administrative skills as well as magical know-how.
He has been successful in competitions at magic conventions both here and in Australia, has travelled extensively and is well known in the magic community worldwide.
For five years Alan was resident close-up magician at the renowned Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant. He has been the resident magician with his family stage show at Rainbows End theme park for twenty-one years.
Of great importance to Alan is the involvement of his family in the Magical Watson Family. Wife Michele, daughters Nicole, Larissa, Melanie and granddaughter Aleshia, perform regularly together.
Michele is a magical assistant and a performer in her own right, as well as an excellent balloon modeller. Alan and Michele in 2002 were presented the prestigious international DRAGON Award for a lifetime achievement by a couple in magic. The word DRAGON acknowledges skills in Drama, Romance, Artistry, Glamour, Originality, and Necromancy.
Other awards and appointments include:
Member of The Magic Circle England, and Member of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star and The Magic Circle Representative for New Zealand.
From The Variety Artists Club of New Zealand – Top Magician four times, and the Agnew Excellence Award for dedication, professionalism and achievements in magic.
For the Society of American Magicians – International Deputy for New Zealand, Performer at The Magic Castle Hollywood, with over 100 shows in the Close-up Gallery and Parlour of Prestidigitation at this world famous venue.
Life Member and member of the Order of Merlin with twenty-five years of continuous membership in the International Brotherhood of Magicians and a Presidential Citation for “his contribution to the advancement of the art of magic.”
Past-President of the New Zealand Ring 160. Past-President of the New Zealand Society of Magicians.
I would like to especially mention two outstanding contributions Alan Watson has made to magic in New Zealand, contributions that have benefited most of us here today.
First: bringing overseas lecturers to New Zealand. Over the years, he has helped to organise more than sixty lecture tours in this country from leading international magicians. These lectures have exposed local performers to international artists and have helped to raise the standard of the magic in New Zealand.
Second: Alan is an expert at the computer, and constantly keeps up with the leading technology. He co-founded the MagicNZ Bulletin Board in the early 1990s, introducing New Zealand magicians to the Internet and starting the first magic bulletin board in the world. Today he edits a weekly internet newsletter called Magic New Zealand e-zine, which is read weekly by over 11,000 magicians in seventy-eight countries.
Both those tasks take many hours of time and expertise, for which we are all very grateful Alan.
Alan has a passion for assisting junior magicians and developing their skills. He also has a pet hate of magic exposure and jealously guards the secrets of our craft.
Alan let me remind you of the criteria for the Grand Master of Magic Award: “Its purpose is to honour those magicians who are acknowledged by their fellow magicians to be masters of the art and craft of magic. The recipients first and foremost must be magical performers of a high standard. In addition they might be originators of magical effects, or administrators giving time and expertise to running societies and conventions. They could be consistent competition winners, or have an international standing, or be known only in the New Zealand setting. But above all they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years.”
To this proud tradition you now belong. Congratulations.
Tony Wilson, Past-President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, current President of IBM Ring 160 and Past-President of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians will made the presentation of the Grand Master Medallion to Alan Watson; and Mary Wilson will present flowers to Michele Watson, acknowledging Michele’s expertise and her support of Alan down the years.
– Alan received the Queen’s Service Medal in the 2015 New Year Honours List for “services as a magician”.
2004 : Wayne Rogers
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Wayne Rogers,
27th International Magicians Convention, Spencer on Byron Hotel
Takapuna, Auckland, 6 June 2004
A good many of you will know that when I stand up at an important magic convention like this, to make a speech, that I will be talking about the Grand Master of Magic Award.
The Grand Master of Magic is the supreme award for excellence for a New Zealand magician. It was inaugurated by the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Inc in 1969 and the first recipient was Edgar, the Great Benyon.
In thirty-five years the Grand Master of Magic Award has been given only twelve times. To Edgar Benyon, Jack Read, Jon and Janet Zealando, Jim Reilly, Harold Chandler, Francis Newmarch, Peter and Phillipa Evans, Tony Wilson, Graham Grant, Barry Brook, Bernard Reid, and Burns Scandrett, great magicians all. Of the twelve, five have died and their wands have been broken. Seven are still performing and some are with us tonight. Please stand, Grand Masters of Magic.
Tonight a thirteenth award is to be presented to one who has graced our art and made an outstanding contribution to magic over many years. Ladies and gentlemen acknowledge Grand Master of Magic, Wayne Rogers, the Amazing Chicane.
Wayne Rogers has been interested in magic since he was ten, when an aunt gave him a copy of Magic Made Easy. He has been making magic easy ever since.
I first saw Wayne perform at the Auckland convention in 1969-70 and he impressed me greatly then, and ever since. A busy magician he performs in many different categories and venues: stage, children, close up, strolling, mentalism, family occasions, corporate gigs, and grand illusions.
He designs a show for any occasion, and always has something different and unique up his sleeve. He is a multi-skilled magician, performer, inventor, author, manufacturer, lecturer and international dealer. A good friend and colleague in magic, he is always ready to help, to share ideas, and to encourage others.
Wayne Rogers is a great ambassador for magic. He was a member of the Wellington Society of Magicians, and the New Zealand Society of Magicians (in recess). He is an Inner Circle member of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Inc, The International Brotherhood of Magicians, The Shore City Magicians Club Inc, The Society of American Magicians, a member of the London Magic Circle (Associate of The Inner Magic Circle with Silver Star) and is a trustee of the Bernard Reid Magical Arts Trust.
He has been on the organising committee of many New Zealand magicians conventions. He has held office as President in the BAM, and is an Executive Member of IBM Ring 160. One of his best contributions to magical societies has been as Organiser Producer of public shows, where his wide theatrical experience and knowledge of lighting, sound, staging and special effects has been greatly appreciated.
It was after he came to Auckland in 1970 that he took the stage name of The Amazing Chicane. I am rather suspicious of magicians who take great titles to themselves, because some have not lived up to them, but Wayne has been one to fulfil the expectation that his stage name implies.
His magical performance and his career in magic has been truly amazing. He has won many cups and trophies at national conventions in New Zealand and Australia and is perhaps the most successful competitor at competition in New Zealand’s magic history.
In 1996 the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand presented Wayne with the special Scroll of Honour for creative and professional contributions to magic. As the millennium approached in 2000 the Magic Circle of London advertised a world wide competition for an original magic effect. It was won by Wayne Rogers with his unique trick “Signed Card on Blue Stake.”
Other original effects marketed by Chicane Enterprises Ltd include : Percy the Penguin, Hot Video, Appearing Shovel, Spade, Broom, Poles, Opinion Poll, and Ladder and Hat Rack from Briefcase, Briefcase Table, Over Exposed and so on. For more information about Wayne and his products check his web page www.nzmagic.com. It is truly amazing that such great magic has come from such a small and cluttered workshop. Wayne, I don’t know how you find anything in there.
Many people have enjoyed the Ronald McDonald Road Show not knowing that Wayne is on the design team and a principal builder of the Happy Meal Machine. He has appeared at many telethons, has numerous TV credits, radio interviews, and he built the illusions for and appeared on TV3’s The Great Kiwi Magic Show producing the entire cast from his own version of the rarely seen Jarrett Box.
Wayne has read and researched widely in the magic field, is an original and creative thinker, and has not only adapted and improved many standard effects, but has a long list of original effects to his credit. Many of these have appeared in our NZ magic magazine Magicana where he is a regular columnist, in the IBM’s Linking Ring, and other magical publications. An honest and ethical man he consistently acknowledges sources and origins of magical ideas that he has adapted and improved on.
His books include : Commercial Chicanery – the basis of his lecture at the Magic Castle, Los Angeles, USA in 1993; he was the first New Zealander to lecture there. Out of the Pole Vault – a collection of routines ideas and presentations of the appearing pole; Wayne is an acknowledged world leader and expert on pole technology. Nothing to Declare – prepared for his lecture tour of the UK in 2000; again this was a first. Mrs Rogers little boy Wayne is the first New Zealand magician to undertake a lecture tour of England. All reports indicate that tour was a great success.
Wayne is a well presented performer, he has a variety of costumes for different venues ranging from formal evening wear, to wizard costume or the casual look. He is always well prepared for any show, speaks clearly, and uses appropriate music. The Amazing Chicane is a magician who gives excellent value for those who book him.
In all this he has been ably supported by Elizabeth his wife, their son Cerdin and daughter Felicity.
Felicity is an accomplished magician in her own right, her father’s magical assistant, as well as a prize winning photographer and computer animation artist.
The criteria for the Grand Master of Magic is as follows : “Its purpose is to honour those magicians who are acknowledged by their fellow magicians to be masters of the art and craft of magic. The recipients first and foremost must be magical performers of a high standard. In addition they might be originators of magical effects, or administrators giving time and expertise to running societies and conventions. They could be consistent competition winners, or have an international standing, or be known only in the New Zealand setting. But above all they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years.”
Such a person is Wayne Rogers, the Amazing Chicane, Grand Master of Magic.
2002 : Burns Scandrett
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Burns Scandrett
70th Anniversary of the South Canterbury Society of Magicians, Ashburton, 2002
In 1969 the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians established an award, The Grand Master of Magic, honouring New Zealand magicians who are acknowledged by their peers as having made an outstanding contribution to the art of magical entertainment over a period spanning many years.
The Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians has decided to bestow the award again this year and have selected for this unique honour a man who has devoted a considerable part of his life to all facets of the magic scene.
The Canterbury Society of Magicians Incorporated is extremely proud to have supported the selection of their member Burns “DeLarno” Scandrett as a distinguished master of the art and craft of magic. It is widely known that for many years Burns owned and operated a focal point of magic – DeLarno’s Magic Shop – in Chancery Lane, Christchurch. At a later time he was also involved (along with Alfred Hayes) in operating DeLarno’s Magic Shop in Sydney, Australia.
Burns is a member of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star (London, England), Past President of New Zealand Assembly 250 of the Society of American Magicians and Past Territorial Representative of the International Brotherhood of Magicians (USA).
During his forty-seven years as a member (now Life Member) of the Canterbury Society of Magicians he has served in virtually every capacity, including nine terms as President. Burns has always willingly shared his vast knowledge with all magicians, from those starting out to the more experienced.
Burns is a national and international entertainer having travelled the world making guest appearances on live shows and approximately 200 television appearances in many countries. His talent and vast experience has enabled him to perform in all venues from department stores and shopping malls to trade fairs and overseas cruise ships, from restaurants and cabarets to magicians conventions and touring variety shows.
This award follows a Citizens Award bestowed on Burns in 2001 by the Mayor of the city of Christchurch, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to charity. This related mainly to his work in helping to form the Variety Club of New Zealand (South Island) and Camp Quality – a Lions project for children with life-threatening health problems.
He also served several years as Entertainment Director for Camp Quality and as organiser of the Annual Variety Club children’s Christmas party.
It is very apparent that Burns “DeLarno” Scandrett is a very worthy recipient of this exclusive award and fully deserves to join the roll of honour as a Grand Master of Magic.
The presentation of this inscribed medallion, by and on behalf of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians and the Canterbury Society of Magicians to Burns Scandrett signifies that he is indeed a Grand Master of Magic.
– Burns passed away in April 2006.
2001 : Bernard Reid
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Bernard Reid
26th International Magicians Convention, Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre
Auckland, 31 December 2001
Good evening ladies, gentlemen, and magicians all. I am Stan Goudge, President of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians. The BAM is the guardian of New Zealand’s highest magical honour, the prestigious Grand Master of Magic Award.
It was first presented in 1969 to Edgar, the Great Benyon, and subsequently to Jack Read, Jon and Janet Zealando, Jim Reilly, Harold Chandler, Francis Newmarch, Peter and Phillipa Evans, Tony Wilson, Graham Grant and Barry Brook. That makes ten awards in thirty-two years. Four of this elite company are with us tonight. Please greet our Grand Masters; Jon Zealando, Peter and Phillipa Evans, Tony Wilson and Barry Brook.
Tonight another name is to be added to that list. He joined the New Zealand Society of Magicians when he was fourteen, but has made his name as a professional magician overseas. Now in his thirty-sixth year in show business, greet Bernard Reid: Grand Master of Magic.
Bernard you will be aware that this award is not made lightly. It honours those magicians whom their peers acknowledge to be master of the art and craft of magic. The first and most important criteria is that they must be magical performers of a high standard. They may be originators of magical effects, or administrators giving time and expertise to running societies and conventions. They could be consistent competition winners, or have an international reputation, or be known only in New Zealand. But above all they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years.
Bernard’s interest in magic goes back many years. With Jon Zealando and Tony Wilson he joined the NZSM when they were all about fourteen years old, and were the young guns active in the local scene. He helped write and edit the NZSM’s newsletter with the late Ross Hill, and sharpened his skills at club meetings and conventions. In 1953 while he was watching the grand illusions of ‘Virgil’ at His Majesty’s Theatre, Auckland, Bernard Reid resolved to become a professional magician. Not for him the tyranny of the “kids shows”, the bread and butter for New Zealand magicians, Bernard had his eyes set on becoming a professional world touring illusionist.
His first venture was a tour of the Pacific Islands, followed by a couple of years on the Australian club circuit. In 1968 he was in Vietnam entertaining the American Troops. “R and R” for the G.I.’s (rest and recreation) was big business, so working out of Hong Kong Bernard performed in Okinawa, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia. In 1971-72 he tackled the Eastern Mediterranean: Beirut, then Cyprus, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai. By 1973 he was touring Europe, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands.
I would not have you think that it has all been easy pickings for Bernard Reid in these years. Many times he was broke, and he has learnt the hard way that the second part of “show business” is “business”. It was a school of hard knocks, and he was a quick learner.
Devaluation of the Philippines peso; civil war in Beirut; Turks and Cypriots fighting in Cyprus; they were certainly not good times to be there Bernard. Exorbitant charges for airfreight of illusions; the responsibility for the welfare and wages for assistants, dancers, and backstage crew; restrictive contacts and grotty venues – Bernard Reid has experienced it all.
Bad breaks, misfortune, bankruptcy, ill luck; but it has never dampened his spirit or deflected him from his goal.
Some people are afraid of the “little green men”, but not Bernard. It was his friendship with “Johnny Green and the Green Men” that has been most critical in his professional magic career. They first met up in Vietnam, and Bernard was to tour with them in Europe in 1972-73. With Johnny Green he learnt how to regulate the cost of touring; the amount of gear to carry; the financial side of the business; and above all the development of the pickpocketing act that is Bernard Reid’s speciality. Then in 1974 he opened with “The Green Men” at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, USA. This was the turning point of Bernard’s career and since 1974 he says he “has never looked back”.
In the USA he began to work on cruise ships, and for the first four or five years he was working 50% of the time in nightclubs ashore and 50% at sea. Nowadays he works almost exclusively on cruise ships and has become the master of magic afloat. The QE2, The Cunard Princess, and the world’s most luxurious floating palaces, have seen Bernard entertained on them all. He travels light, and with only 100 lbs of luggage he can give three one-hour shows. Entertaining on cruise ships is not easy, as the passengers demand the very best. At the end of each cruise the passengers rate each performer, and those with low scores are never seen again. But Bernard gets rebooked, year after year.
Bernard, while we acknowledge the importance of the “Green Men” in your life, we ought also to acknowledge the contribution of your personal manager, Ephram Abramson of Broadway, New York. He has kept you in work all these years, and I reckon you have also kept his bank manager happy.
While I have been emphasising Bernard Reid’s international magic career, we must not forget that he has also contributed much to the New Zealand magical scene. His generous financial support has been crucial for the survival of Magicana, our New Zealand magical journal. He has written many articles for it, and shared some of his favourite effects with us. Portraits of magicians he has met on his travels grace its pages. The last edition (December 2001) featured his 41st “Portrait of International Magicians” in “A Day in the (Magical) Life of Barcelona”.
Through the Bernard Reid Magical Arts Trust individuals and especially convention committees have been assisted. We also have the magnificent Bernard Reid Comedy Magic Challenge Trophy which he donated to be contested at each convention. One of his greatest contributions has been his financing of top professional magicians who have come to New Zealand to lecture and perform at our conventions. This has helped to raise our standards and to expose us to magical excellence.
Bernard we salute you for who and what you are. A consummate professional magician and entertainer, with an international reputation second to none, yet proud to be a New Zealander, and supportive and encouraging of magicians in your native land. We are pleased that your family members are here tonight to share in this occasion and to know that we hold you in such high esteem.
I now call upon Graham Bennett the Secretary of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians to present the Grand Master of Magic Award.
2001 : Barry Brook QSM
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Barry Brook
Palmerston North Magic Circle Mini-Convention, Palmerston North, 3 June 2001
I am Stan Goudge, President of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians Incorporated. Would you join me in congratulating the Palmerston North Magic Circle on their initiative and organisation of this excellent mini-magic convention?
I have been asked to remind you that some of our valued magician colleagues are not with us today. I refer to Frank Newmarch, Graham Grant, Jack Wood and Ross Hill who have graced our magic gatherings with skill, and good fellowship over many years, and who have now laid down their magic wands. Will you stand for a moment’s silence as we remember them, and honour their memory?
Frank Newmarch and Graham Grant were among that select group of nine New Zealand magicians who have worn the Grand Master of Magic medal.
The roll of the Grand Masters of Magic : Edgar the Great Benyon, and subsequently to Jack Read, Jon and Janet Zealando, Jim Reilly, Harold Chandler, Francis Newmarch, Peter and Phillipa Evans, Tony Wilson and Graham Grant.
There is a hidden and secret motivation behind the holding of this mini convention today. It is to honour a new member of the order, to add another name to that roll of honour.
Ladies and gentlemen please greet Barry Brook, Grand Master of Magic.
Let me remind you of the criteria for this prestigious award. It was originated by the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians but has become a New Zealand wide honour. Its recipients must be magical performers of a high standard. Sometimes they are originators of magical effects, sometimes administrators, people who have given time and expertise to running societies and conventions. Some are consistent convention competition winners. Some have international standing, and others are well known only in the local setting. But above all they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years.
Barry it is the judgement of your peers in magic that you are such a person.
Barry Brook’s interest in magic began while he was a pupil of the Palmerston North Technical College. Two pupils of the college, Barry O’Brien and Trevor Wells, gave a magic show, and young Barry Brook was intrigued as to how it was all done. So he was talked into joining the Palmerston North Magic Club. Meetings were held in the home of a Mr Cowling, and one who attended was Ray Campbell, the father of Geoff Campbell, who is the current President of the Palmerston North Magic Circle.
Barry was always looking for magic to purchase; and when he discovered from Mr Nicholls, the caretaker of the Palmerston North Opera House, that there were a lot of magic props in store; and that these belonged to a well known magician of the day, and that he had failed to pay for their storage. A deal was struck, and Barry got the magic gear and the caretaker his storage space back.
About 1956 Barry decided to give up magic and to devote his efforts to another love – rugby. He even (horror of horrors) began to get rid of some of the magic gear he had collected. Mind you he had other interests as well, that strange musical instrument – the bagpipes, boxing, and the pursuit of the fairer sex. This latter interest culminated in 1958 when he and Jennifer Shirley were involved in some magic welding/wedding. So Barry acquired not only a wife, but a charming and effective magic assistant as well.
Jenny was organist in a little church in College Street, and Barry was asked if he was a magician and could he provide some entertainment, so Barry was back into the magic. He built up his magic props, and he dealt with a firm in London (I guess it was Ken Brook, Barry?). So developed the act we came to admire, that smooth and sophisticated manipulation with cards, cigarettes and doves. Stage work in top hat and tails, and Jenny immaculately presented and dressed. A silent act to a musical background.
Barry Brook performs all types of magic proficiently and professionally: stage, cabaret, close-up, children’s, comedy, and school gala days. Birthday parties, socials – he has done it all. Three TV spots with a five-minute act. The Glen Tucker Show on TV1 and TV2 with nationwide exposure lead to bookings from Auckland to Invercargill. Close-up magic at Fisherman’s Wharf. For five years he appeared on the Music Hall Show at the Majestic Hotel Palmerston North in his famous Indian act, “Mr Ramset Fastener” and Jenny as “Miss Ramajama Bang Bang.”
Barry’s first national magicians convention was in Christchurch in 1962 where he won the manipulation trophy. He and Jenny were in Wellington in 1964 for the 10th New Zealand Magician’s Convention and there they fully established their magical credentials. The Evening Standard, the Palmerston North paper, proudly reported “Pulling rabbits and ringing alarm clocks from a top hat, making things vanish, sleight of hand, ventriloquism – all these things are second nature to Palmerston North magician, Mr Barry Brook. It was his ability to perform these tricks convincingly that won him three firsts and a third at the magician’s convention, held in Wellington.”
What happened in Wellington in 1964 has been repeated at subsequent conventions. Most convention trophies have had Barry’s name engraved upon them, and on some of them several times. He has been one of the most successful convention performers.
Barry and Jenny for several years ran a business called Gallery Ten where they sold magic, magazines, and giftware. Many members of the Palmerston North Magic Circle made purchases of magic props through Gallery Ten.
Barry has been a strong and loyal supporter of the Palmerston North Magic Circle for fifty-one years and has held office as President on many occasions. He was made a Life Member in 1986, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to his club and our art. An honour well deserved.
Of concern has been Barry Brook’s health, and following a triple by-pass operation in 1996, he was talking of retiring from magic as he found the strain of carting around his magic gear was becoming a problem. However he has solved that dilemma too, as he now carries a “little black bag” from which he takes all the props he needs to perform a first class show.
It is now my great pleasure to call upon Geoff Campbell the President of the Palmerston North Magic Circle, to make the presentation, and to confer upon Barry Brook the award of the Grand Master of Magic. The medal made by Auckland Sculptor Greg Barnett is simply inscribed: GRAND MASTER OF MAGIC, Presented to Barry Brook by the Palmerston North Magic Circle and the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians, 3 June 2001.
As a recognition of the help, encouragement, assistance that Jenny has given to Barry, and in acknowledgment of her own contribution as a magical assistant, and her charming personality, Trixie Twigge is to make a floral presentation to Jenny Brook.
Barry received the Queen’s Service Medal in the 2013 Queens Birthday Honours List for services an entertainer.
1999 : Graham Grant
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Graham Grant
New Zealand Magicians Convention, Wellington, 4 April 1999
Ladies and gentlemen, in case you are wondering who I am, I am Stan Goudge, the President of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians, and I am going to give you a little history lesson.
In 1969 the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians established a very special magical award. Its purpose was to honour those magicians who were acknowledged by their fellow magicians to be masters of the art and craft of magic.
The recipients first and foremost must be magical performers of a high standard. In addition they might be originators of magical effects, or administrators giving time and expertise to running societies and conventions. They could be consistent convention competition winners, or have an international standing, or be known only in the New Zealand setting. But above all they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years.
Here is the roll of the Grand Masters of Magic. There are eight of them, covering a period of thirty years.
1969 Edgar, the Great Benyon
1976 Jack Read
1985 Jon and Janet Zealando
1988 Jim Reilly
1989 Harold Chandler
1990 Frances Newmarch
1995 Peter and Phillipa Evans
1998 Tony Wilson
Tonight a new name is to be added to that list.
Ladies and gentlemen will you please stand to acknowledge a new Grand Master of Magic – Graham Grant.
Graham Grant’s association with the art and craft of magic began as a teenager when he joined the New Zealand Fellowship of Magicians in Wellington. Later in 1957 he was accepted into the Wellington Society of Magicians where he has been a staunch and a loyal member ever since. He has been a regular office holder in the society including President in 1962-64 and 1966-98. The society hosted an extremely successful national convention under Graham’s presidency in 1964.
Any tribute to Graham should mention his late wife and stage partner, Val. They were a team, and in magic a graceful and polished team. Together they held many long term magical engagement contracts in the Wellington area venues. This double act was one of considerable sophistication and skill, featuring the production of doves and their transformation to a couple of live poodles. Graham’s particular skill was manipulative magic and his skill with billiard balls, cards and cigarettes was, and is, a delight to behold. The Grant’s eye-catching publicity stated “My job’s a mystery – what’s yours?”
Graham Grant has also been a magical dealer, known for encouraging customers to join the ranks of the magic fraternity. His Wellington retail shop was a meeting place for most magical visitors to the city. Circumstances beyond his control lead to the closure of this business, but friendships made over the counter are still strong to this day. He maintains contact with many magicians throughout New Zealand and overseas and is respected by all who know him.
The high standard of Graham Grant’s personal performance can be seen in his numerous successes in competitions both in New Zealand and Australia. An examination of cups and trophies awarded at magicians’ conventions will find the name of Graham Grant engraved many times, especially for the stage act, cabaret act and manipulation categories.
Any appreciation of Graham Grant’s life and its impact on his magic, should also mention the difficulties associated with Val’s illness and the dissolving of such a long term magic partnership. For him it meant starting again, designing a solo magic performance that did not rely on the input of a stage partner, and refining and perfecting a new act. We saw that come together with success at the Wanganui convention in 1995.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a little of the man we honour tonight with New Zealand’s most prestigious magical award, the Grand Master of Magic.
I call upon the President of the Wellington Society of Magicians, Cliff Thomas, to make the award.
The silver medallion designed by Auckland sculptor Greg Barnett, is simply inscribed: Presented to Graham Grant by the Wellington Society of Magicians, the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians and the magicians of New Zealand, 4 April 1999.
– Graham passed away in November 2000.
1998 : Tony Wilson
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Tony Wilson
IBM Ring 160 Social Event, 31 January 1998
In 1969 the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians established a very special magical honour, the Grand Master of Magic Award. It has been presented seven times in twenty-nine years.
It was first presented in 1969 to Edgar, the Great Benyon, and subsequently to Jack Read, Jon and Janet Zealando, Jim Reilly, Harold Chandler, Francis Newmarch and Peter and Phillipa Evans.
The artists were acknowledged by their fellow magicians as masters of the art and craft of magic. Some of the presentations have been made by the BAM others in association with other magic societies.
The criteria for the award? The recipients must be magical performers of a high standard. Sometimes they are originators of magical effects, sometimes administrators, people who have given time and expertise to running societies and conventions. Some are consistent convention winners. Some have international standing, and others are well known only in the New Zealand setting. But above all, they are people who have served magic well, have graced our art, and made a special contribution over many years.
Today as we celebrate the fortieth year of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Ring 160 Aotearoa, the IBM and the BAM have combined to express their regard and admiration of a new Grand Master and to present another person with this prestigious award.
His mother calls him Anthony – but we know him as Tony Wilson – Grand Master of Magic.
Tony’s first experiences in magic began when he was a boy, under the watchful eye of Jack Read who lived next door. His first professional engagement was at age eleven in December 1953 for the NZ Farmers Fertiliser staff Christmas party for a fee of five shillings. The next year he got seven and sixpence! At the age of fourteen he joined the New Zealand Society of Magicians and under the influence of Jack Read and Ross Robbins, his magical mentors, young Wilson’s magic skills grew. He even performed with the young Jon Zealando at Mount Albert Grammar School when they were both secondary school pupils.
His first NZ convention was in Hamilton in 1956. He joined the BAM in 1960 and the IBM in 1976. He was made a Life Member of the NZSM in 1987 and is an Honorary Member of the Canadian Society of Magicians.
Tony has had considerable success at competitions in New Zealand and overseas. If you look at our New Zealand convention trophies you will see that the name of T. Wilson probably appears more often than any other name.
Also well known to overseas magicians. He has attended magic conventions in Australia, UK, Canada, the USA and Europe. He performed at the 1983 IBM convention in Hawaii. In 1966 he lectured at NYCAN Conclave New York. In 1978-79 he lectured in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, Seattle and Chicago. In 1991 he presented a lecture to the Magic Circle, London. In 1993 he lectured in Oregon, Hawaii and Vancouver. And 1994 saw him invited as an international close-up performer at the Eastbourne Convention in the UK.
Tony is experienced in all types of magical presentation, children’s, stage, cabaret, but in recent years his close-up skills have been refined over eight years with a three night-a-week engagement at Cobb and Co. Pakuranga.
Tony Wilson has been active in administration. He has been either President, Secretary or Competitions Organiser for three national conventions held in Auckland. He was active in the Variety Artists Club for many years, three of them as President, and has held office in the NZSM and the BAM where he is a Past President of both societies.
In 1976 Tony joined the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Ring 160 Aotearoa. He became an International Vice-President, and when the ring headquarters were moved from Dunedin to Auckland 1983 he became Secretary/Treasurer of the ring, a position he has held for fourteen years with thoroughness and distinction.
In 1997 his hard work and dedication to the IBM was acknowledged with an invitation to join the Board of the International Brotherhood of Magicians in 1998. A rare distinction for a magician outside the United States.
Well Tony, we don’t want to embarrass you too much by telling you what a ‘grand’ fellow you are. When you go to the USA and represent New Zealand magicians in the hallowed halls of the IBM hierarchy, when others wear their regalia, their awards, ribbons and medallions, we would like you to wear this, this uniquely New Zealand tribute and award, The Grand Master of Magic.
1995 : Peter and Phillipa Evans
Grand Master of Magic Citation by Stan Goudge for the presentation to Peter and Phillipa Evans
New Zealand Magicians Convention, Wanganui, 16 April 1995
In 1969 the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians instituted a prestigious honour for New Zealand magicians. It is the Grand Master of Magic Award. Designed by Auckland sculptor Greg Barnett, the medal has been awarded only six times in twenty-six years.
Previous recipients are: Edgar The Great Benyon 1969, Jack Read 1976, Jon and Janet Zealando 1985, Jim Reilly 1988, Harold Chandler 1989, Frank Newmarch 1990.
Now the time has come to make another presentation. To add to the list the name of someone else has performed with great distinction and graced the art and craft of magic. So, tonight we are to present the Grand Master of Magic Award to Peter and Phillipa Evans.
Peter Evans was born in Wales in January 1933, and it is fitting that as he celebrates fifty years of magic, that his special talents are recognised by the magicians of New Zealand.
When he was eight or nine his interest in magic was stirred by seeing a Welsh magician, Al Roberts, perform at school. Excitedly he went home to show his mum how the magician had plucked a coloured hanky from an empty glass; only to have the glass slip from his hand and smash on the floor. A year or two later he acquired a magic set from Hamleys in London, and at age eleven put on a show for a friend’s birthday party. It was disastrous. A rival sat in the front row with the very same box of magic tricks and exposed every effect as Peter performed it.
Early influences on the magic of the lad from Carnarvon was a group of magicians who met informally in nearby Bangor. Fondly remembered are: Al Roberts, Walter Evans and especially Ray Hacker who took the young magician under his wing. An early friend in magic was Ivor Parry. He sold Peter his first ‘Zombie’ and a ‘Say When’ glass. Later he came to live in the same street, and Peter and Rovi the Welsh Wizard have been lifetime friends. Rovi we are so pleased that you are here tonight, to share in this special occasion as we honour Peter and Phillipa.
The teenage Evans was spreading his magic wings, acquiring more skills and competence, including manipulation with cards and cigarettes. He joined a local concert party, and at the YMCA, where he was active in the soccer club, he formed another concert party that raised funds by performing in the villages of Wales.
Peter developed a hypnosis and fire-eating act and, under the name of Zarak, he had the locals spellbound. On one occasion at an RAF Camp he told the participants on stage that they were getting hot, tired and sleepy, but one by one the audience dropped off instead, and he had trouble waking them. He performed in the pantomime Cinderella that toured Wales.
Then in the 1950s he saw the great Channing Pollock on TV with his dove act. That inspired Peter Evans to master the art of the flying birds. Not much was known about doves in those days, and secrets were jealously guarded. There were no videos and few books. Indeed Peter was able to buy only one book, published in the early 50s by a Spaniard, Mariano Palhinha, entitled Dovetail Deceptions, but for the rest, he had to evolve his dove routine on his own. The act that he devised in Wales under the title of ‘Peter and Margo’ was further refined and polished when he came to New Zealand.
Peter we are glad that you left your native Wales to come to New Zealand in 1960, for you brought us a sophistication and elegance in magic that we had not seen before. The name ‘Peter and Margo’ conjures up for us that lovely dove act to music. Graceful, charming, full of surprise and colour, performed with such great poise and expertise, with the mastery of dozens of little details, that have made it New Zealand’s top magic act for so long.
Then, following your marriage to Phillipa, a new dimension was added to your performance in that Phillipa has made her own mark in the new ‘Peter and Margo’ act, not just by her obvious beauty and charm, but by encouraging you to expand your magical horizons. She has brought her gymnastic skills onto the stage in that incredible three sword suspension that we admire so much and the presentation of the Sawing in Half and the Zig Zag illusions. The fact that this is a joint award to both of you is in recognition that you are knowledgeable performers. Phillipa is much more than merely a stage assistant, she is a maker of magic in her own right.
Peter has received honours before. In 1979 he received the Variety Artists Scroll of Honour and in 1980 received the Benny Award. Tonight’s honour however is from fellow magicians, who know how hard it is to present magic that looks so graceful and so easy. Peter and Phillipa we salute you, you are indeed Grand Masters of Magic.
– Sadly Peter suffered a stroke which prematurely ended his magic career. He passed away in 2007.
1990 : Francis Newmarch JP
Presented at the 21st New Zealand Magicians Convention, Auckland, 27 December 1990
Francis (Frank) Newmarch was born in Rotorua in 1908 and finished his schooling in Auckland. He became interested in magic in 1918 but didn’t perform publicly until a move to Auckland some years later.
In 1928 he was accepted into the New Zealand Society of Magicians and attended his first magicians convention in December of that year.
Frank spent his spent his working life in the Justice Department as a Court Registrar. He began in 1925 and was transferred to Timaru in 1932, where he discovered five enthusiastic amateur magicians. Based upon his experience with the NZSM a new club was inevitable and the South Canterbury branch of the New Zealand Magicians Society was founded. Twenty-five years later Frank was made a Life Member.
In 1936 another transfer took Frank to Dunedin where he joined the Otago Society of Magicians. He married Edna Brialey (Teddy) in 1941. Frank’s magic took a back seat upon the commencement of World War II. In 1945 Frank returned to Dunedin and two years later moved to Wellington.
Jack Wood encouraged him to perform in the 1956 convention where this young upstart won The Best Twelve Minute Act, the Bob Wilson Memorial Trophy for Best Manipulation and the Best Card Routine. He also came second for the Patter Act, Best Five Minute Comedy Act and the Don Garlick Trophy for the Most Original Effect! Many trophies were to follow in conventions to come – the BAM Trophy for the Best Stage Act three times in a row, Best Comedy Act, Best Manipulation and Top Cabaret Act.
He was transferred from Wellington to Taumarunui, Whangerei, Masterton and finally to New Plymouth in 1964.
Frank’s other great passion was mountaineering. He joined the New Zealand Alpine Club in 1935 and later served as President. He was made a Life Member in 1987. Frank laid claim to three virgin peaks in the South Island, and would offer to take any visiting magician to the summit of Mount Egmont and bring them back alive! During his lifetime Frank climbed to the summit eighty-five times.
Upon Frank’s retirement from the Justice Department he was elected to the New Plymouth City Council and served 1968-1980. He also served on the Egmont National Park Board, Taranaki Reserves Board, the Mountain Safety Council, the Hearing Association and the Taranaki council of the Automobile Association.
He performed in the 1998 Sydney magic convention close-up competition in his ninetieth year.
Frank was a stalwart of New Zealand magic events, his final was the 1999 “It’s Magic” day in Onehunga. He died peacefully in New Plymouth in September 2000, aged ninety-three.
1989 : Harold Chandler
Presented by the Waikato Magic Circle and the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians
at the Waikato Magic Circle Anniversary Dinner, Hamilton 1989
Harold Chandler made a most substantial contribution to the New Zealand magic scene.
He had a continuous association with the Waikato Magic Circle going back to its original formation as a branch of the New Zealand Society of Magicians in 1939. Throughout the years Harold held many positions in the club including that of President on several occasions. He was later made an Honorary Life Member.
Along with his wife Maude, Harold was a regular at New Zealand magicians gatherings since the 1940 Wellington convention. His comedy contributions at magic events became well known, such as his famous “cutting of the tie”.
Harold was a skilled craftsman and made magical equipment under the “Chandu Products” name. Many of his props are still in existance today and are treasured as collectables. He was also a published author – Chandu’s Magical Varieties was published by Hades in 1970.
Harold was once presenting the iconic sawing-in-half trick on stage in Hamilton when he looked down and saw real blood. The audience thought it was part of the act, but Harold went white. With relief he realised that he had cut his finger on the saw and his assistant was unharmed.
Harold established Magicana magazine in 1953 and served as Editor for the first two years of publication. He wrote in Magicana No.1, January-February 1953 – “tis indeed a pleasure for the Waikato Society of Magicians to say “hello” and wish all fellow magicians a bright and prosperous New Year through the medium of their first issue of your new Magicana magazine. First of all, let me state quite plainly, that, although we are editing and publishing this magazine as a club, we have no intention of ramming the Waikato Society or its views down readers’ throats. We are only here to see that it gets printed, and in doing so, to assure that it contains a feast of material suitable for everyone. One thing you might ask and that is, “How did these Waikato blokes come to start such a magazine?” Well, it started through a general discussion concerning the closing down of Magic Parade, when one bright spark remembered that our constitution contained a clause which states that our aim as a society is to help and foster the art of magic and its allied arts. This brought forth further discussion and enquiries, until at length a magazine committee was formed to go into matters. This was done, and after a great deal of hard work plus the generous cooperation of Jack Wood we have at last produced the goods.” Magicana was to see publication for an incredible sixty years.
Harold’s other passion was that of movie making, and in this field he was equally as successful both as an administrator and director.
He passed away in Hamilton in December 1992.
1988 : Jim Reilly
Presented at Magicana Day, Hamilton 1988
Jim Reilly wasn’t well known in the magic community until the 1960-61 Hamilton magicians’ convention, when he appeared on the bill of the Night Before show. He had created a Turkish-themed theatrical event filled with colour, humour and magic. After this his name began appearing in Magicana magazine in connection with his activities in Kawerau but it wasn’t until the 1964 convention in Wellington that his act was to resurface. Several effects, such as the ribbon fountain he used for a finale, were new to New Zealand magicians at the time and were very well received.
Jim had joined the Waikato Society of Magicians in 1959 and was good friends with Eddie Ware. He became involved with a musical theatre group in 1960 and starred as a magician in their production of Sinbad.
By 1964 he was assisting Magicana Editor Colin Smith with material for publication.
In 1968 he moved to Hamilton and was Secretary for the 1970-1971 magicians’ convention, which broke new ground with monetary prizes for main competitions, an attractive poster for advertising the event, close-up tables for the early risers, creche and other innovations.
Jim had his own style of performance and created many of his own props. These were shared with magicians worldwide though magazines like Magigram, Pentagram and New Tops. His creations also appeared in Adair’s Dove Encylopedias, The Best From Down Under and Francis Marshall’s Book on Children’s Parties. He became a world authority and supplier of the novelty paper folding act Troublewit. Billy McComb called Jim’s Troublewit the best in the business.
In 1980 Jim took over as the Editor of Magicana from the departing Colin Smith. The Waikato Magic Circle had divested itself of any interest some years before and Colin had been carrying the risk and debts on his own. Over the next twenty years Magicana grew from strength to strength, growing from around 50 subscribers to 250, a third of whom were overseas readers. He was able to draw on his experience as an employee of INL – Independent Newspapers Limited – and substantially improved the professionalism and content of the bi-monthly publication. Jim also boasted that he was never once late in producing an issue.
For twelve years Jim, with the assistance of wife Pam, organised and ran the annual Magicana Day in Hamilton – a mini-convention featuring competitions, lecturers and dealers.
In 1984 he was awarded a Scroll of Honour from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand in recognition of his work as Editor of Magicana. He was made an Associate Member of the Magic Circle with Silver Star in 1987.
The same year he was caught off-guard at Magicana Day when the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians presented him with the Grand Master Award, presented on behalf of New Zealand magicians to recognise his dedication and contribution to magic in this country.
In 1996 the Magic Circle elevated him to their highest degree – Member of the Inner Circle with Gold Star. Members who helped make this possible were Rovi, Billy McComb and Terry Seabrooke.
In 1989 Jim began researching the history of magic in New Zealand. He shared his fascinating insights in a long series in Magicana. The work was highly praised overseas as at that time little was known about the early history of magic in this country. He found New Zealand’s first professional magician – Jane Whiteside, and wrote a monograph on her entitled Darling Jennie.
Then came Same Man, Different Clothes, the Life and Times of The Great Benyon. This publication received worldwide recognition.
Jim Reilly finally hung up his editorial pen in 2000, after twenty years of service as Editor of Magicana (and sixteen as Assistant Editor). His work was sorely missed.
In 2003 Hollywood’s Academy of Magical Arts presented him with their prestigious Literary Fellowship.
1985 : Jon and Janet Zealando
Presented at ‘A Magical Happening to Honour the Zealando’s’, Avondale Racecourse, June 1988
Trevor Hodson left his job as a junior bank officer in 1957 for a life in showbusiness, and Jon Zealando never looked back.
He became a household name in New Zealand as a magician, ventriloquist, escapologist, yogi (someone able to withstand pain) and entertainment personality.
A founding member of the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand, he designed and personally sculpted the first Benny Award. The statuette features Greek muses Melpomene and Thalia – the traditional symbols of comedy and tragedy. He himself was presented the prestigious award in 1972. Jon was also a founding committee member of the NZ Equity Actors Union.
In 1980 Dick Zimmerman wrote in Genii magazine : “Zealando’s ability as a creator, builder and performer is uncommon – especially in so many different fields. He would literally be a ‘one-man magic convention’ if booked to appear at a magic convention. He could do a different act on every show and still have enough great stuff for the following year.”
Jon appeared on That’s Incredible, blowing a 30 foot flame in three parts called the Prince of Wales Feathers. He made two appearances on the Toyko television show The World Surprise Show. He also entered the Guinness Book of World Records for distance fire throwing.
In 1996 Jon was celebrity roasted by show business friends Max Cryer MBE, Phil Warren QSO, Les Andrews QSM, John Maybury, Gerry Merrito, Chic Littlewood, Guy Cater, Monique Feron and Elaine Bracey.
Jon also has a passion for opera, choir and pantomime.
The Grand Master citation recognised “the able help and assistance” of Janet Zealando who uncomplainingly was sawn in half, struck with knives and made to vanish several times a week for years.
1976 : Jack Read
Presented on Town Cryer Television Show, October 1976
Jack Read was known as The Versatile Entertainer. The name was coined when he was booked to perform in a show for a bowling club in the 1930s. It was a wet cold night, and none of the other performers showed up. Over the course of the evening Jack performed no less than four times, each time with a completely different act! At the end of the evening the club chairman suggested the nickname for Jack due to his gallant effort, and it stuck.
As well as magic Jack performed a clown act, paper tearing, lightning cartoons, a gymnast act, chalk talk, ventriloquism, glove puppetry and played the harmonica!
He became interested in magic around 1940 when performing with the Irma Squirrel Concert Party. His first tricks were pocket effects he had ordered by catalogue including a “disappearing penny” with a hook on it which would attach to his trousers.
Jack always put his own spin on his magic effects and presentations. In his early days he put together a comedy act based around the floating ball. The ball (from an old lavatory cistern) would rise from a table, float around the stage, pass through a hoop and then back to the table. “I was almost disfigured the first time I tried it out,” he later remembered. The modus operandi was a thread from the wings which passed through a hook on the top of the hoop and back to a loop on his ear. When Jack took a bow the thread almost cut off his ear!
A gym instructor at the Leys Institute in Ponsonby (a position he held for seventeen years), Jack guided a troupe of gymnasts through many charity performances during the depression. He even made a brief entry into films with an appearance in a silent comedy, The Daughter of Auckland, by New Zealand film pioneer Rudall Hayward.
After the Irma Squirrel Concert Party disbanded when Irma moved to Australia, Jack joined up with Joy Beatty’s Concert Party and performed shows over the length and breadth of New Zealand. A master of so many talents, he found no difficulty in performing a solo two hour programme if necessary.
He was a regular performer in competitions at national magicians’ conventions and was a recipient of the comedy trophy for the funniest routine six times. In 1973 the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand presented him with a Scroll of Honour.
Jack also performed as Bimbo the Clown and became a familiar and popular figure in Auckland. For a decade he had a four week Christmas season at a Queen Street department store. One afternoon a staff member armed with a camera asked Jack to do a hand balance on a rail which ran around the roof of the store – some 118 feet above Queen Street. “I did a very nice balance, put on my coat and took the lift down,” Jack remembered, but the staff member had been so scared seeing Jack in such a perilous position that he forgot to take the picture! Jack repeated the stunt and it was duly taken.
Jack was one of few New Zealanders to have seen legend of magic Harry Houdini in person, in 1921.
Jack saw out his days at Selwyn Village retirement home in Point Chevalier. He was still entertaining in his late 80s. He died in 1987 at the age of 89.
1969 : Edgar Benyon
Biography written by J.V. Reilly GMM
Edgar Wilson Beynon – known professionally as Edgar Benyon – was born on 29 March 1901 in Auckland, the son of William Melville Beynon, a printer, and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Wilson, a dressmaker.
By 1903 the family had moved to Christchurch, where William carried on his trade with Weeks Limited. Edgar was educated at schools in Linwood, Sydenham and New Brighton and eventually took up an apprenticeship as a printer with his father’s company.
It was through his father, who received numerous theatrical passes at his work, that Edgar fell in love with the theatre and developed a desire to become a master magician. He began to practise fire-eating and performed a solo magic show at local churches and youth groups. He received a letter of encouragement from the great magician Chung Ling Soo (W. E. Robinson), when he toured New Zealand.
Watching the various entertainers who came to New Zealand, Edgar realised that the leisurely tempo of the older style of presentation was becoming outdated and that to succeed against stiff competition his act would have to be different, so he added juggling, balancing and mimicry. Most of his skills were self-taught, but many cherished secrets came from a genial magician known as Adair (Allan Roberts), who befriended and encouraged him.
In 1918 Beynon met and fell in love with Doris Evelyn Southen, an artist employed at Weeks. He also entered and won a talent competition staged by John Fuller and Sons’ vaudeville. Part of the prize was a week’s paid work with the company, eventually extended to ten. He declined the offer of an Australian tour because of family pressure to stick with a reliable trade.
Beynon continued performing in Christchurch, resigning his apprenticeship when magic and work conflicted. The bookings for his act increased and he added quick-change routines so that each skill was presented in a different costume. He and friends formed a company, which toured the South Island and Manawatu, before he was engaged by Fullers at £14 per week. He gained valuable experience and quickly learned that audiences appreciated his versatility.
By 1922 he had moved to Australia, where he achieved success in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. Doris Southen joined him and they were married on 17 August 1922 at Newcastle, New South Wales. Doris now became part of the act, since a double act was paid more. Their first daughter, Doris, was born in 1923. They performed in Adelaide and Melbourne, toured South Africa and went on to England with a letter of recommendation from Harry Lauder. Edgar staged a successful show in Worthing and from then he was never without work. The manager of the London Coliseum billed him as Edgar Benyon, a name more memorable than Beynon, and this, or The Great Benyon, became his stage name.
A second daughter, Mavis, was born in 1926 and in 1929 the family toured South Africa and Australia. Their third daughter, Doreen, was born in 1930 in London. Tragedy struck in 1935 when Mavis died of burns received when her dress caught fire while playing.
Edgar and Doris were now regularly touring Britain (including the Channel Islands) and Ireland. Edgar displayed other hidden talents when he wrote the lyrics for several popular songs. When war broke out in 1939 and theatres were closed, the family moved to Ireland. Here the full evening show of magic was named Bam-Boo-Zalem with Edgar’s one-man variety act as its cornerstone. By now his daughter Doris was taking part in the show under the stage name Evelyn Talma. In 1943 she married an Irish army officer, Sean O’Hagan, who also became an integral part of the show.
The show was now one of the largest in the world and included 14 separate changes of scene in the course of a performance. Edgar was famed for the inventiveness of his optical illusions, his mind-reading tricks and the skill of his juggling. Perhaps his most famous feat was to spin a billiard cue like a propeller on the tip of another cue held horizontally – something he claimed to have learned from watching Maori stick games.
The family toured Ireland until 1946, and in that year toured England. They returned to New Zealand in 1949, touring the country until the 1960s. As Doris, Sean and Doreen left to settle down and raise their families the show was scaled down.
The theatrical and magic fraternities both recognised Edgar Benyon’s work. The Variety Artists Club of New Zealand created the Benny Award in his name to honour the variety artist of the year. He received the first award. The Auckland Brotherhood of Magicians created and conferred on him its Grand Master of Magic award. The Benyons eventually retired to Queensland to be with Doris and Sean O’Hagan in Mackay. Edgar died there on 14 September 1978; his wife, Doris, survived him.
For more information about the prestigious Grand Master of Magic® Award contact Alan Watson QSM GMM, President of the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians.
Click here for the Grand Master of Magic® Wikipedia entry.