She’s ‘Mrs. Magic … U. S. A.’
From the files of the Colon Community Historical Society Archives. From a newspaper clipping, probably from the Brandenton (Florida) News, date unknown, by Sally Remaley: “A pretty, petite blonde girl was doing a single act in vaudeville, playing the banjo at a theatre in Oshkosh, Wisconsin while on tour on the old Keith-Orpheum circuit when she answered an ad for a musical director.
The man looking for a musical director turned out to be The Great Blackstone, who was later to become the world’s premier magician, and the girl who decided to take a chance on him was Inez Nourse, who later married Blackstone after first helping build up his show from four people to a big, beautiful production using 17 regular personnel, and playing to packed houses all over this continent.
Now retired and living quietly, with the memories of her fabulous life still fresh and sweet, Inez Blackstone, widow of the internationally famed Blackstone, recalls her days in show business, and her life with Blackstone.
Inez was a mere child when she got “drafted” into traveling with musical acts on the road.
“I was playing piano in a theatre,” she remembers, “Somebody came along and thought I would look and play well on the stage. The money was better and away I went.
“I was in ever so many musical acts from then on,” she said, “even though I was very young. I had taken one term’s instruction on the piano and found it came naturally to me, so I went on from there on my own, and also picked up on banjo and organ.
“I made my living with my music from the time I was just a little girl,” Inez said.
Ironically, Blackstone’s show was laying off when Inez was working in Oshkosh and she heard he needed a musical director.
“I was ambitious in those days,” Inez recalled. “I thought, “That’s not a bad deal … a full season’s work and more money.” So I went with the Blackstone show.
“It didn’t work out like I thought it would … not then, anyway. The show went broke. I was sorry for everybody so I stayed on to help them. At that time there was Blackstone and his three assistants … two males and a girl.”
Inez worked hard and soon helped build up the show. “Then I married Blackstone,” she smiled. “After I got the show on its feet. Of course he was bound to become great, nothing could really stop him. From then on he went uphill in the business so fast it just amazed everybody … except me, I guess. I knew all along that he would be the best.”
“I traveled with him for ten years and became the ‘general workhorse,” Inez laughed. “I helped everywhere on the show … worked on stage a couple of years, doing that originally to help out, then was in the orchestra pit mostly after that.”
“During that time the show grew to such an extent that we used the largest railroad car ever built … a balloon top 76 feet in length. Those were fabulous days.
“There’s not a wide spot in the road I haven’t been on,” said Inez, president of the local chapter of Brotherhood of Magicians and the beloved “Mrs. Magic … U.S.A.” of the world of magic. The name was bestowed upon her by one of her favorite magicians, the young and handsome Sorcar, of Pakistan and India, who has succeeded The Great Blackstone as the world’s greatest magician since the death of the “master magician”.
Blackstone passed away in 1965. He had retired and was living in Hollywood at the time. (Inez remarried but is again a widow.)
“He played all big time legitimate theatres,” Inez mused, “all over the United States and Canada, never leaving this continent.”
Inez was the first woman to join the International Brotherhood of Magicians, which has members in every country of the world except Russia.
The group has grown from less than 100 members at its first convention in 1926 (where Inez did a takeoff on a woman bathing in champagne to tie in with the news stories of the day) to its present 1,400 members from 35 countries who registered in Amsterdam last summer for the World Congress of Magicians, an event held once every ten years.
Still president of the local, only woman ever to hold the post and revered worldwide for her work with the International Brotherhood of Magicians as well as being the widow of the greatest magician the world has ever knew, Inez was awarded a plaque for 20 years service as Sarasota local Ring president. (State chapters are called Rings after the oldest magic trick, the Linking Ring.
It was The Great Sorcar, of India, the “Maharajah of Magic” and “Midnight Mysteries of the East,” who became a devoted friend of Inez and modeled his lifework after Blackstone, his idol. Sorcar writes her often, and so do hundreds of other magicians and friends.
From around the world, visitors come and seek her out. She’s still the only lady president in the world and the only lady to hold the honor in the magicians’ brotherhood.
Until recently, Inez passed her time, supposedly in retirement, busier than most other folks who are still working. She paints beautifully and plays the organ like a professional … although she is self-taught in both fields.
And her home is almost a shrine in the world of magic, for she’s truly “Mrs. Magic … U. S. A.,” not only to Sorcar, but to the world.”
Dedicated to Inez Kitchen Blackstone (1889-1983).