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 Biography of Larry Jennings

 

 

Larry Jennings card magic

The Life of Larry Jennings

 

Larry Jennings is born in Detroit, Michigan on February 17, 1933. His parents are John Alfred Jennings and Eva Jennings (nee Jones).

Three years later in 1936, his brother Jerry is born.
 

His parents divorce and his mother moves back to Georgia to live with her parents. Her father owns a grocery store as well as a large home.

 

Larry divides his time between staying with his father in Detroit and his mother in Georgia. His mother can only have one boy stay with her at a time so he and his brother switch between parents.

 

In his mid-teens, Larry sees his first magic—a four ace trick.

 

At age 16, while in Detroit, Larry joins the United States Navy. He starts his service on June 29, 1949 and is honorably discharged on April 22, 1953. He proudly serves aboard Naval Boat #US 839.

 

While in the Navy, a fellow sailor shows Larry a trick. Larry keeps pestering the sailor to teach him the trick and after a while he relents.

 

After his discharge, Larry moves to Detroit and meets a French-Canadian woman named Nina Chauvin. She lives across the border in Windsor, Ontario with her eleven-year-old daughter, Sheila. Larry moves to Windsor and the two are married.

 

In 1956, while in Windsor, Ron Wilson moves in across the hall from Larry. It is Ron who introduces Larry to the world of magic. Larry has a unique way of meeting his neighbors. First, he places his trashcan in front of someone’s door; then he knocks on the door to ask if the neighbor has taken his trashcan. It is in this manner that Larry meets Ron. Larry comes over and asks Ron if he has a deck of cards. He then proceeds to show Ron the trick he had learned in the Navy. Afterwards, not knowing Ron is a magician, Larry asks him if he knows any magic. Ron then shows Larry “Out of This World,” which completely fools him. He asks Ron to teach him the effect, but Ron resists. Instead, he tells him to think about it. Larry eventually figures it out and Ron continues to teach him magic, introducing him to the magic of Edward Marlo and Dai Vernon.


Larry joins the Windsor Magic Circle.

Larry’s job as a combustion engineer has him watching a boiler to make sure that the pressure doesn’t get too high. So, basically he has nothing to do but practice. He practices the coins through table so much that he eventually makes a groove in the table.

 

In the early 1960s, Larry and Ron Wilson meet Dai Vernon for the first time at a convention in Cleveland. Besides seeing the Professor perform they also get to spend a little time with him, sharing a walk back to the hotel.

 

Larry would walk around the conventions he attends with a deck of cards in his hands asking, “Are there any cardmen here?” During the stage shows, Larry would practice faro shuffles.

 

In 1961 at the Columbus MagiFest, Larry meets a cardman who shares his interests—Bruce Cervon. They become instant friends, sharing their knowledge and discussing the works of Marlo and Vernon. They subsequently meet at the MagiFest for the next two years and correspond with one another between conventions. At one of these conventions, Larry sees the card to wallet for the first time. Performed by Walt Rollins, it completely fools him. After everybody leaves, Larry picks up the envelope used and checks it for rubber cement.

 

In the early 1960s, Larry’s mother dies.

 

In 1964, Karrell Fox tells Larry about the Magic Castle. Knowing that Dai Vernon now lives in Hollywood, Larry quits his job as a combustion engineer and he and Nina move to California. They live at 2005 Ivar Street, Apt. 7.

 

In Hollywood, Larry gets a job working for Leo Behnke’s father in the plumbing repair business.

 

Larry quickly becomes friends with Dai Vernon and studies under him.

 

In September 1964, Larry’s first published ideas, “A Snappy Lift” and “Lift No. 2,” appear in a letter from Dai Vernon to The Gen magazine.

 

During this time, Larry, Dai Vernon, Charlie Miller, Ron Wilson, and Tony Giorgio would regularly play poker with the provision that you could cheat. However, if you got caught you would have to forfeit your pot and leave the table. At one game, Larry grabs Giorgio’s hand to reveal a palmed card.

 

In July 1967, Larry publishes his first set of lecture notes, Lecture Notes On Card And Coin Handling. These notes are written by his wife, Nina. Larry gives this lecture at the Kansas City Jubilee, traveling there with Dai Vernon and Ron Wilson.

 

In this same year, a collection of Larry’s magic appears in Dai Vernon’s Ultimate Secrets Of Card Magic.

 

In 1969, Larry travels with Dai Vernon on his lecture tour of Japan. Here he meets Hideo Kato who acts as their interpreter.

 

In 1970, a second set of notes are published for a special lecture Larry gives at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Again, they are written by his wife, Nina.

 

Larry’s one-man issue of Genii is published in May 1970. The effects are written by Jules Lenier.

 

In 1970, Hideo Kato comes to America and studies card magic with Larry. He writes a book on Larry’s card technique entitled Larry Jennings-No Card Magic Nyuumon. Written in Japanese, the book has yet to be translated into English.

 

Larry and Nina get divorced in the early 1970s.

 

In the mid-1970s, Larry meets his second wife, Geri, in Los Angeles. They are married and move to Lake Tahoe, where he opens up his own plumbing company, Jenco. They are later divorced.

 

Larry dates a real estate agent named Greta.

 

In the mid-1970s, Karl Fulves publishes a special two-part issue of Epilogue featuring Larry’s magic.

 

Larry meets B.J. in Lake Tahoe in 1977, where she works as a blackjack dealer at a casino Larry frequents.
 

Larry meets Jeff Busby who releases the effects Stabbed Coincidence and The Coin And Beer Can as well as the book Larry Jennings On Card And Coin Handling (1977).

 

While in Tahoe, Larry performs after hours in the Baccarat pits for the pit bosses. He is so popular that he is hired to do private shows by the high rollers who come into town.

 

In 1979, Larry is the guest of honor at the annual Fechter’s Finger Flicking Frolic. He presents a new lecture for the event.

 

Following his appearance at Fechter’s, Larry is invited to lecture in Japan. The Japan Lecture Notes are produced for the occasion. These are put together by B.J. and Louis Falanga.

 

In the early 1980s Larry sells his business in Lake Tahoe and moves to Newport Beach, CA to work at the Magic Island. Larry is the resident magician and is placed in charge of booking. He tries to get higher pay for the magicians and when the management refuses, he quits.

 

Larry moves in with James Patton and the two frequently have sessions. Jim convinces Larry to do another lecture and in 1982, Larry lectures at the Magic Castle, presenting the material from A Visit With Larry Jennings.

Larry goes to work for the Los Angeles Unified School District and moves to North Hollywood.

In the early 1980s, Larry goes to France and shoots his first magic videos for Pierre Mayer.

In 1986, Larry and Louis Falanga start L&L Publishing.

 

In April of 1986, Larry Jennings and Dai Vernon are invited to perform at the Circulo De Magios Maxicanos IV Convencion De Magia in Mexico. 

 

In 1986, The Classic Magic Of Larry Jennings is released. It is the largest collection of Larry’s magic to date, containing over eighty effects.

 

This is quickly followed by the publication of Neoclassics (1987) and The Cardwright (1988).

 

Larry and B.J. are wed on December 28th, 1990. Michael Skinner is the best man.

 

During the 1990s, Larry continues to share his magic with two new sets of lecture notes and five videotapes.

 

In 1995, Larry is awarded the Creative Fellowship by the Academy of Magical Arts.

 

Larry continues to frequent the Magic Castle, performing both formally and informally.

 

Larry and B.J. continue to live in North Hollywood until his death on October 17, 1997 at age sixty-four.

 

Since his death, Larry’s magic continues to inspire with the publication of his effects in various magazines and most notably in Richard Kaufman’s book, Jennings ’67. It is the largest collection of Larry’s magic since The Classic Magic Of Larry Jennings.

 

In 1998, Larry Jennings is one of the topics studied at the Escorial in Spain.

 

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Copyright © Bill Goodwin 2014