About Mr. Magic
(published works & trick development...plus, media coverage)
Booking Magic (1959, 15pp booklet)
Lights! Cameras! Magic!: A Guide to Performing Magic on Television (1994, SPS Publications)
***referred to as LCM! Wrote with wife, Virginia. A textbook on presenting a magic series on TV based on
their Magicland TV series experience. 200 pages, hardbound, with color photo section.
Magic in Focus (1995 companion VHS tape, to LCM!, SPS Publications)
Take Two! More Magic in Focus (1997 follow-up to Magic in Focus VHS tape, SPS Publications)
Dick spent many hours over his life re-working and improving tricks. His goal was to learn one new trick a week
and make it TV-ready. Dick read hundreds of books in his lifetime, some multiple times, and kept a large collection
of props to keep his Magicland show going (see photos and video link, below).
Presenting the Haunted Key (Fun, Inc. in Chicago, 1997, 12pp)
Contains the real work on the Haunted Key handling plus 5 new scripts to enhance presentation of this close-up
illusion. Patter developed after booklet was published: The Latch Key Kid (free PDF download)
Dick Williams' Cups & Balls for the New Millennium (1999, 12pp)
-Updated from LCM! coverage, pgs. 113-115
-Dick also updated booklet to 2003 and beyond, as Dick Williams' Millennium Cups & Balls
-Concept: An audience member becomes the Sorcerer's Apprentice. A radical new presentation of a classic.
-Note: approximately six months after Michael Ammar released his book, The Complete Cups and Balls, Dick sent a
manuscript to him that he had been working on for a few years (he did not know that Ammar was working on the book).
Here are Mr. Ammar's comments: “After reading his manuscript, I found myself wishing I had not added the word ‘complete’ to the title of my project, because contained in
Dick’s manuscript wasn’t just another routine, but an entirely new approach to Cups and Balls. In essence, Dick's routine sprouts a brand new branch to the Cups and Balls
family tree. Obviously I was impressed. Perhaps all the more so since I had spent years reading everything I could on the Cups and Balls, and in all the time I don’t recall
seeing any other approach that was as refreshing or as commercial as the concept conceived by Dick Williams. Upon reading Dick’s routine, I was immediately struck by the
potent concept, and I called him up to tell him so.
The nicest, most charming man you can imagine answered the phone, and by the end of the conversation he was quite clear about one thing – nothing would make him
happier than to see other people performing and getting pleasure out of his concept, and he would be delighted if I could help spread the word about it."
4/23/02 from Ammar (after Dick continued to make improvements to the routine): "As for your new concept with the Cups & Balls, I only wish it could have been part of my
book and videos. It really is brilliant, and I think it is the most refreshing approach to this classic in recent history. About 25 years ago Tommy Wonder broke new ground when
he used the bag that carried his cups as one of the final loads, while using the pom pom from the pull string as the other final load. Other than these two new ideas, I can’t
think of anything else that does as much to expand the possibilities with what many consider to be the greatest effect in magic. In fact, a recent survey among 500 or so
magicians did rank the Cups and Balls as the single best effect in magic, so it is an amazing accomplishment to make a genuine advancement in such a classic."
Michael Ammar performing the Cups & Balls (he credits Dick Williams at beginning of routine)...video here & here.
"The best cup and ball trick in the world by far." —jaykelly7 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNm-oCcbieY)
More comments on Dick Williams' Cups & Balls routine:
“It is the best thing I have read on this classic for forty years.” —David Hemingway, English magician/author
“I think this is a great idea, a solidly-routined work and recommend it highly as an easy-to-do, entertaining treatment of a magic classic! Dick, I truly hope you never stop
thinking about magic and offering your thoughts to the magic world.” —Phil Willmarth, former Executive Editor, The Linking Ring (IBM magazine)
Continued.....Coverage in these and other publications:
The Linking Ring magazine and MAGIC magazine featured Dick around the time of his August 2009 tribute shows at the Germantown Performing Arts Center (TN).
...There was article in Commercial Appeal newspaper, too.
The View 38002 newspaper (Arlington, TN) did a very nice feature in August 2012.
Comedy Pro-File, by David Hemingway. 2011 book that included Dick Williams’ The Great Guest Speaker Spoof: a Parody of Bad Speeches. pgs 86-91.
Also published by SPS Publication in 1995. Dick wrote this in the 1970s.
...what David Hemingway said in his Comedy Pro-File book: "Dick generously and kindly allowed me to use several of his superb routines both on my 'Gingerbread' lecture tour,
and also in my book Working with Genius where you will find his terrific audience participation piece, The Popularity Contest, for children or adults."
We Remember Dante, by Joel Ray, pp. 131-138. (Dick Williams met Dante, backstage, in Wichita, KS...a teenager working at the Orpheum in Wichita, KS. See Influenced by...).
2005 Guinness Book Of Records, pg. 182
2006 Guinness Book Of Records, pg. 154
Hi There, Boys and Girls!: America's Local Children's TV, by Tim Hollis, pg. 269.
Favorite card trick: Make the Cards Match
Favorite close-up trick (besides the Cups & Balls):
Haunted Key (Dick carried that on him as people would often ask "Can you show me a trick?")
Blackstone, Dante, Dai Vernon, and others, especially after meeting and interacting with them. A 1944 autographed photo of Blackstone appears in LCM!. One way Dick was able
to see some fine magic acts was that he worked as a popcorn boy at the Orpheum Theater in Wichita, at age 13 (see page 165, in Dick's Lights! Cameras! Magic!, for more about
meeting Blackstone, including attending his birthday party, among other stories). It was in Dick's genuine personality to care about involving his audience, but, he did learn from
Dante, early on, that it was important to make the spectator feel that he was the most important part of the show...because he is! ...and what magician hasn't been influenced by
Houdini: the Williams' performing the Metamorphosis illusion (or sub trunk) here.
NOTE: This page was constructed by his family after Mr. Magic's head injury in 2007; so, he isn't able to proof for accuracy but we do believe the information herein is accurate (i.e.
his favorite card trick in the last ten years was "Make the Cards Match").
Professor Muskogee Nightmare (LCM!, pgs. 120-125)
-Dick came up with a new method to this classic, all from a dream he had in Muskogee, OK one night, on a trip.
Genii Vase (features a vastly improved gimmick and routine). Updated from Hindu Vase coverage in LCM!, pgs. 107-111. Originally distributed by
US Toy in Leawood, KS. No more are being made. Dick's wife Virginia, now deceased, hand-crocheted the cover to the gimmick to make it silent
and work more effectively (how to make a Genii vase is covered in a 2003 DVD Dick did called his Farewell Lecture, which covered all his favorite
tricks). Dick and Virginia were partners (she helped to write LCM!, give Dick feedback on trick methods, etc). Coverage in June 1996 Genii
magazine (p. 646): "Mr. Williams has not only brought some dignity back to the apparatus, but has improved the method, handling and routining
of the effect...It will throw those 'in the know' for a loop, and more importantly, it puts a theatrical finish on a trick that really had no ending."
A New Presentation of (Robert) Houdin's Aerial Suspension (says "Aeriel" vs "Aerial" ...maybe this isn't a typo. Did Houdin refer to it as such?
Dick's granddaughter did the desktop publishing but can't remember if they had a conversation about the spelling).
Ungimmicked Linking Ropes (Dick came up with an original method, handling, and routining). This uses the same knot used in ring to rope
circle, which was performed many times on Dick's Magicland show. The knot is covered in Lights! Cameras! Magic! Dick sometimes added
stretching a rope to the routine (Ali Bongo's method, covered in LCM! (pgs 72-74).
Dick always had a true love for the art of
magic. Dick loved reading and/or
practicing magic every day of his life
(curtailed after his 2007 head injury).
He made copious notes that he would
keep in the front of his magic books. Dick
has always been very detail-oriented and
him...and many people enjoyed seeing
him perform over the years.
Dick Williams handlings of the
Cups and Balls, Hindu Vase, Ball
and Vase, and favorite bits of
business are themselves worth
more than the price of the book.
Highly recommended. -Phil
Willmarth in Linking Ring
I was overwhelmed. -John Booth
I can't tell you enough how much
I enjoyed the book. -David Charvet
Buy the book, here.
June 1989 cover
The Magic of Christmas, published in the International Brotherhood of Magician's The Linking Ring magazine, 1970s.
About the Zig-Zag illusion:
Dick Williams was the first to perform the authorized version of Harbin's Zig-Zag illusion on American TV (4/4/71).
Dick's secrets and answers to questions such as: The middle section seemed to go out further than most....
Was this Zig-Zag built according to standard plans?
(Answer: yes, but this is why it appeared that way...refer to "Zig Zag Girl" (LCM!, pgs. 148-149)
About the Light Cabinet illusion:
De Yip Loo built cabinet #5 for Dick Williams. Dick first performed it on Magicland on April 23, 1978 (with Terry Alden). Harry
Blackstone, Sr. was best known for performing the illusion. At the age of 15, De Yip Loo learned how the gimmick worked
while working as an assistant to Harry Blackstone, Sr. He carried it with him by memory for almost 50 years before building it.
If not for De Yip Loo, the illusion would have been completely lost, especially with the improvements he made to it. The illusion
was performed, on at least one occasion, to the Dave Grusin's song "Disco Magic," on Magicland. Photo to right; another here.
Articles written for:
TOPS, Linking Ring, Dragon, & Magigram
Coverage in these and other publications:
Creative World of Conjuring, by John Booth (1990): Chapter IV covers
Dick William's Magicland show
Paul Osborne's Illusion Systems - Book 3 (several pages covering Dick
Williams' experience and thoughts on the presentation of the 'Lightbulb
Through Girl Illusion.' Dick was enamored by Harry Blackstone's
presentation of the lightbulb cabinet and it became one of Dick's
favorite illusions, next to the Zig-Zag.
The man who built the lightbulb cabinet for Harry Blackstone, De Yip
Loo, also built one for Dick.) Photo to right; another here. More
info...scroll back up a few paragraphs.
MAGIC magazine, January 1999
The Century: Those Who Impacted the Art in America (pgs. 50 & 51)
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Left: magic props (circa 1980's) Right: magic library (circa 1990's)
Take a video tour of Dick's (then) magic room...to far left, here!
Dick Williams' magic library