Abbott’s Get-Together of 1965
From TOPS Magazine, October 1965, By Clarke Crandall (who continues his comeback aimed at TOPS Columnist Gene Gordon who had written that Crandall was a “frustrated” magician and TV Personality.): “The Abbott Get-Together shows will no doubt be reviewed elsewhere. Naturally I have a few random comments and personal opinions. Due to an indulgent editor I am able to make them. Having a fourth public show instead of the usual nite-before party was a good idea. I always enjoy the Get-Together. Just to visit with seldom-seen friends, relax and exchange stories is reward enough for me. When you are also able to see such fine performers as Bob Lewis, Dorny, Jay Marshall, Karrall Fox, John Mulholland, Neil Foster and Zaney Blaney, it’s well worth the trip.
I especially enjoyed Monk Watson’s very commercial magic act. I am not speaking of the pantomine rope walking, orchestra leading, train passing pre-taped routine. He does a solid entertianment-packed magic act with standard props that, in my opinion, is one of the best. His apple, rice and checker routine is a classic and the audience, which included me, enjoyed it. Next month I may blast him for no particular reason, just to keep my image. Such inconsistency is to be expected from we who are filled with frustration.
John Mulholland, a good friend of many years, was a delight to watch. His lecture was well attended and presented. John’s magic is that of a glorious and past era done with a modern flair and professional ease. His props are magically endowed museum pieces and this classic style of presenting the art is seldom seen because few can do it. John is a living legend but I fear he is a frustrated comedian: otherwise why would he stick his head, adorened with a red ribbon bow, thru the backdrop during one of my afternoon programs? The resultant laughs he received may go to his head and he’ll take up comedy magic. Let’s hope not.
Jack Gwynne’s lecture was filled with timely, informative, usable material. Amateur magicians as well as the professionals in the audience were fortunate to have an opportunity to learn from Jack, who knows his business; magic. This month, October, Jack and his chosen mate, Anee, will celebrate fifty years in magic and marriage. Drop them a congratulary message if you have time, I know they’ll appreciate it. People don’t come any better than Anne and Jack. Jack doesn’t know it but I’ve been in love with Anne for nearly twenty-five years. I hope he doesn’t find out before we get too old to elope.
Karrell Fox and Duke Stern break me up, which isn’t easy. Duke is the world’s greatest straight man in a world where everyone is a comic. Karrell is too funny and gets too many laughs to suit me. Besides, he is also frustrated. Jay Marshall is also very funny but he belches a lot during his act. He eats radishes and drinks Coke just before he goes on. The belches help punctuate his vent routine and acts as misdirection for his pulsative Adam’s apple which vibrates like the heads on a Ubangi exotic. He is also frustrated.
Zaney Blaney, the tall Texas ambassador of good will, has a commercially entertaining act and the best “suspension” I’ve ever seen. If anything in magic will fool you, this will. I am not sure but I think the two small stepladders have something to do with it. Either that or he starches the drape the girl lies on. Some day I’ll ask him but he’ll probably be too frustrated to tell me the secret.
The large family, illusion, stage-type magic was well taken care of by the Frantic Franzens, the Amazing Conklins and Ken Diamond and Louise. They work a lot and their presentations show it. They look good from out front and that counts. Josef and George Smiley work fast, well, and are truly professional. Like their ads say, “Blink, and you’ll miss a trick.”
Tom Palmer and Bunny continue to improve and the audience, mostly magicians, were amused and entertained. Tom is really frustrated but Bunny is not. None of Tom’s tricks work right and it’s a shame because he tries so hard. It’s a hilarious act but I fear some of the subtle satire goes over the heads of laymen present. This is not a serious handicap as Tom is a talented performer and can easily adjust the act to suit any audince.
Bill and Sally Tadlock are young, pleasant and also talented, which is reason enough for me to dislike them. They claim to live in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. I am not sure there is such a place. Monk Watson says he never played there and he’s played everywhere. This well-adjusted couple do magic no harm. Sally smiles a lot and she’s very pretty. Bill is pretty too and he dresses well and laughs at my jokes, so, in time, I may learn to put up with them.
Bob Lewis, Ginny, Clare Cummings and Peggy rented an abandoned farm house near Colon. It was stocked with chickens, guinea hens, cows, pigs, horses and hound dogs. It was far enough from town so that Bob could practice his banjo plunking without having some irate light-sleeper in the next room hammer on the walls. I later learned that after they left, egg and milk production fell off considerably. All four of these people are frustrated. Chic Schoke, the insurance tycoon, visited them at their rustic retreat and took a guided tour of the stables to bring back boyhood memories. Besides making him feel at home, he said it cleared up his blocked sinuses.
My young Chinese friend, De Yip Louie, did his colorful club act. Louie got his start in magic years ago as an assistant to the Great George (Playboy Club) Johnstone. George’s beautiful wife, Betty, who is ninety percent of the act, was playing a local maternity ward. George, who is so frustrated he doesn’t dare face an audience alone, put a Chinese mask on Louie and broke him in as an assistant. I think he called him Murphy. At the end of the act he’d ask Louie to remove the mask. Louie looked more Chinese than the mask. Bitten by the magic bug, Louie later did close-up work at a Chicago Booze spa. He used a line I gave him: “You realize I don’t have a Chinaman’s chance of doing this trick.” On stage he has two large, authentic Chinese curtains as backdrops. At Abbott’s he asked me if I knew of any way he could improve the act. I suggested he try working behind the curtains. He promised to consider it. Louie is a good boy; a little frustrated but I like him, which is a handicap he can soon outgrow.
I rode to Colon with Leonard Carrion who, besides being chief engineer at Field Museum here, is my manager, audio engineer and comedy consultant. His plump wife. Eunice, came along as combination cook and chaperon. She doesn’t fry bacon too well but washes dishes nice. Leonard recently won a new air-conditioned Ford in a raffle. He likes barber shop quartets and does card tricks, which give you an idea of what manner of man he is … They are both very patient and I can put up with them easily. Both are frustrated.
Someone with a moustache named Senator Crandall did an hourly daily program of nothing. The audinece didn’t walk out until it was over, which speaks well of them. He was hampered by Frannie Marshall and her collection of female cohorts. He was constantly interrupted by four frustrated, malcontented friends named Jay, Duke, Monk and Karrell, which is a hint of what occurred.
Recil, Neil, the Abbott staff and all connected with organizing the Get-Together deserve congratulations for a job well done. The townspeople continue to be tolerant with a few inebriated weirdo aggravators who, in the early morning hours, cluster outside the Legion Bar, make disparaging remarks to the natives, scoff at the local customs and generally make nuisances of themselves. Luckily they are a disturbing minority, but they leave their mark when the affair is over. Recil and Neil live and work there. They must hear the brunt of the citizens’ complaints and they don’t deserve it. It’s enough to make them frustrated!”
“Senator” Clarke Crandall (1906-1975) was an American comedy magician and magic dealer. He developed funny routines for such effects as the Card Duck and the Cups and Balls. He wrote a column for The New Tops called “It’s A Mystery To Me.” Abbott’s Get-Together presents the “Senator Crandall Award” for Comedy excellence each year. He appeared in Abbott’s Get-Together in He appeared in Abbott’s Get-Together in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972.