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At this time, we are not accepting any new sign-ups for the Larry Jenning's mailing list. As a thank you for your interest, below you'll hear Michael Skinner tell a humorous story about Larry Jennings.

 

In addition, you’ll read "Thoughts On Larry Jennings" by Bruce Cervon, J.K. Hartman, Michael Weber, David Regal, Roger Klause, and many other friends and admirers of Larry Jennings. 

 

 

Larry Jennings and Michael Skinner Jennings Skinner story about Vegas

 

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Thoughts On Larry Jennings

 

"Gambler's Triumph" from Ultimate Secrets of Card Magic was the first advanced card effect I ever attempted to learn, and I’ll always remember sitting at a card table by a fireplace, practicing it over and over during a high-school Christmas vacation. Many years later, when I finally made it to the Magic Castle, I was too intimidated to actually sit down next to the creator of that routine and introduce myself. For some time, I’d just kind of look the other way as I walked by the bar, even if Larry were sitting alone. Finally, I was there one night with my friend Tom Meyer, a magic fan who’s now an associate member of the Castle. Taking matters into his own hands, Tom politely introduced himself to Larry and said that he had a friend who admired him who was sitting down at the end of the bar. Larry called me over, and—as I think I had secretly feared—asked me to do a trick for him. I don’t remember what I did, but I think it went OK, and after that I was able to walk up to Larry without needing an intervention.

 

I knew Larry for only five years, which seems very strange, since I carry with me so many stories and tricks and good times from that short span. He had such charisma and such spirit that he made you live life more fully simply by being in his presence. Behind that gruff exterior, he was actually a sentimental guy who truly loved those around him, and I’ll be forever grateful for the wonderful people I met through Larry, who all seemed to have the same sort of positive energy: Bill Goodwin, Mike Skinner, Alfonso, Fenik, Randy Holt, and, above all, B.J. Larry and B.J.’s house was an oasis where you never knew what trick might arrive in Larry’s head, or what magic legend might be calling on the phone. It was a warm place, a safe place, and I miss horribly not being able to go there.

 

When Larry was working on a piece of magic, he often closed his eyes to see it in his head, nodding his head as he worked through its particular beats. It was as if he were visiting a lovely, removed world—and, if you study his elegant magic, you’ll see that it’s a world that never goes away.

Gordon Bean

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I used to be jealous of the old timers, when they would speak of seeing Leipzig perform, or Cardini, or Malini. How lucky they were to be born at the right time! Then I realized that I was spending time with the legends of the future. I got to spend time with Larry Jennings, one of the most brilliant minds in card magic.

It was not hard to figure out why Larry was able to design such wonderful magic. He had a passion for it, he thought about it, and he did the work. He didn’t dream about better magic, he would sit for hours, just trying to come up with the most elegant solution for a card problem. He wasn’t afraid to experiment, to practice or to study the past masters.

When you first met Larry, you wouldn’t suppose that he could do such subtle, perfect sleight of hand. He was a bear of a man, more like a boxer than an artist. His fingers were thick as sausages, with the cuts and scars of his plumbing work evident on his hands. But put a pack of cards in his hands, and you would be hard pressed to find a more accomplished sleight of hand artist.

Now if Larry’s talents stopped at his hands, he would still deserve a reputation as one of the very best in history. But Larry was so much more. Larry dove into his magic, head first. He didn’t just follow the crowd and do the “pop” magic of the day. He thought differently. He knew that good sleight of hand starts in the head with study and experimentation. It is not just doing difficult moves, but rather being thoughtful, direct, and precise. Anyone can come up with contrived moves and routines. But Larry made things simple and direct. That is where the art lies.

My first exposure to Larry was from Genii magazine. I learned every trick in his special issue. I still use several of those routines today, and certainly have applied the thinking to all my magic.

Our mutual friend Allen Okawa has told the story about Larry wanting to be buried in the cemetery next to Vernon and Faucett Ross. Well, there is one more story about that cemetery.

On one particular visit to Faucett Ross’ house, Larry boasted of having bought a new gun, and asked if there were someplace in the country were he could go to try it out. Faucett recommended the cemetery just outside of St. Joeseph, in Faucett, Missouri, a tiny, simple town, which was founded by Faucett’s relatives.

They both went to the secluded country cemetery in the evening, after dark. Larry set up some cans on the fence and had a little target practice for a couple hours.

The next day, the town was abuzz with talk of the “mob shootout” in the cemetery the night before. It is now probably part of the legends of that quiet tiny town!

As I slowly watch the time go by, I realize I am getting to be one of the old guys. I start to see the envy in the eyes of the young, when I boast, “I used to spend time with Larry Jennings.”
John Carney

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I remember the first time I met Larry Jennings.

 

It was ten years ago and I was doing a lecture at the Magic Castle (first and only one) and nervous as hell. Sweating like a pig.

 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, who do I see sitting out in the front row (along with Martin Nash) when I first step out after my introduction?

 

Larry.

 

Crap.

 

I’m screwed.

 

I was in a state of sheer panic as I went through my stuff. It was like I wasn’t even there. The sweat was pouring out of my pits in rivers onto my hands and cards.

 

I spewed out my patter thinking, “The Great One is now officially going to know I suck. Peachy.”

 

Well, I got through it.

 

After the lecture I met Larry and I learned something I’ll never forget. What I learned was that it wasn’t about me after all. Never was. It was about the magic. Larry was extremely gracious and comforting. He sat down with us at the card table and we sessioned. Larry was about “ideas.” I don’t think he gave a rat’s ass about me or my sweating. He did want to talk about some card stuff though, and was genuinely interested. He wanted to think about some of the stuff he saw.

 

I repeat, Larry was about “ideas.” When he had an idea, he pursued it voraciously—explored it with every fibre of his being. I could identify with that immediately. The products of his persistence permeate close-up magic today and always will. The Jenning’s Revelation, Ambidextrous Travelers, Open Travelers, to name just a few.

 

His “status” never got in the way of pursuing excellent magic with a pack of cards, and it didn’t matter who you were. If you had an “idea,” well, that he respected. He could easily spend hours pursuing every avenue of that idea. He also was very blunt. If something sucked, he told you. (Or me anyway.)

 

For Larry, I think the love of magic was in the creation. Victory really never meant anything. It was always the battle that mattered. The pleasure was the pursuit, never the capture. When an idea came to fruition, and the cards relented and submitted to that dream, I think his joy was short lived. There was, of course, the period of sharing that victory—and that was good—but soon he had to be on the hunt for another.

 

It never was about me. Or him. I think he would agree.

 

Larry, I’ve got some ideas to run by you. See you in a few.

Jack Carpenter

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Part Of My Life...Larry Jennings

The year was 1961 and I was a very young fellow, performing close-up at the Columbus Magifest. After I’d performed my close-up set, a guy a few years older than me walked up and told me he really liked what I had done. In fact, he went on to say, “You and I are the only two sleight of hand magicians at this convention.” He told me that he only liked pure sleight of hand and everyone else used those god-awful gimmicks.

 

This was an unknown Larry Jennings, talking to an equally unknown Bruce Cervon. He had come to this convention from Detroit and was disappointed in what he saw. He’d approached me because I was doing exactly what he liked—pure sleight of hand.

 

We spent the rest of the convention together, doing tricks for each other, finding that we both avidly studied Marlo’s works and happy to have met a person who thought as you did.

 

I told Larry that I was crazy about Dai Vernon material and did some of Dai’s “work” for him. He, too, thought this stuff was great! He said he really hadn’t made a study of him as I had.

 

After the convention, Larry went home to Detroit and I went back to Akron, Ohio. But we kept in touch and met at the Magifest again the next year.

 

I read with interest, in the Genii, that the Magic Castle was opening, and then later that Dai Vernon was living there. I told Larry I’d love to meet Dai Vernon and Larry said he would, too!

 

In July I received a letter from Larry which changed my life. Larry said that the reason I had not heard from him the previous month was that he had MOVED TO CALIFORNIA! I talked about it, but he had done it before I had! Larry told me that Dai Vernon was everything I thought and MORE! “Why don’t you come out,” he said, and I was on my way!

 

It took me two days to drive to Hollywood with all my worldly possessions in my car.

 

I stumbled into Larry’s apartment one afternoon in October of 1964 exhausted. I met Larry’s wife Nina and Joan Lawton (Frieden then) for the very first time and only hours later met Dai Vernon. My wife and I slept on the floor of Larry’s living room. We couldn’t sleep on the couch as Charlie Miller was sleeping there!

 

We spent a lot of time at Larry’s apartment as at the time it was the place where we all got together, pooled our money to buy food, spent holidays and established a real sense of “family.” It was like a magic convention every night…for years. It was a wonderful time.

 

Larry was a large part of the early Castle days, for then he was a performer, too! A very good performer, in fact. I used to love to watch him work along with the other early regulars! Dai Vernon, Charlie Miller, Leo Behnke, Bob Gwodz, Jay Ose, Lou Derman (Friday night Lou) and of course I was there too! Larry did some very commercial material. Ideas to do some of the items were sent to him from Detroit by his old friends Ron Bauer and Milt Kort.

 

Not many knew Larry for as long a period as I did or as closely—but Ron Bauer, Milt Kort and Ron Wilson, his teacher in magic, certainly did!

 

I can only say that some of the best times of my life were spent with Larry. It’s a shame they had to end.

Bruce Cervon

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Larry was great and I’ve always been a huge fan of his magic. There is a unique style to his magical creations, which is as recognizable as the work of any great artist. Like very few other magicians (Al Baker and John Carney immediately come to mind), I’ve always felt that Larry’s magic was “finished”—there was nothing that needed to be changed or “improved.” His thought process, routining, and methods were so clean and so well thought-out that if one was to put an unknown Larry Jennings handling of an effect among other methods created by several other famous magicians, I truly believe that I would be able to recognize Larry’s unique version. Clean, crisp, streamlined, ingenious, and subtle are words that come to mind when describing the fiendishly clever mind of Larry Jennings. The art of Magic has been elevated to a higher level as a result of Larry Jennings sharing his ideas with us. Thank you Larry.

Daryl

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I can remember the first time Larry Jennings came into my shop for a haircut. Mid 1990’s. I had only met him briefly at the Castle and had heard that he wasn’t very friendly with some of the Magicians. I was sort of worried that I might set him off if I said the wrong thing. I remember him sitting in my chair and I thought, “I can't believe I was this close to a legend in Magic.” Let alone have his head in my hands. Weird thought. I have had that thought with just about everyone in the field of Magic. Interesting position to be in for someone who looked up to all of these guys. I realized shortly that he was just a pussycat. He had a hard outer shell that sort of covered up the person he really wanted to be. I remember him telling me during conversation that he didn’t believe in a supreme being. But he always said that he wished that he could believe. That kind of thinking just didn’t compute for Larry. He was at least honest about wanting to. He would always surprise you with some off the wall comment that would take you back a step.

 

One thing I knew about that man was his true passion for Magic. He would start to do a trick for you and you would think he was telling a true story as he started, and would continue until the trick was done. About half way through an effect it would dawn on you that it was the patter for the trick he was doing. That is how convincing he was when he communicated. He would always look you right in the eyes when he talked. Totally absorbed in the moment and the effect. He cracked me up when he would mess up the trick. He would always get so mad and curse at his mistakes. He would always say that he needed to look up the trick in one of his books. He would say “I always forget my &%#* tricks. I have too many of them to remember.” He would finally work it out and everything would be OK.

 

He would always love to see you do a trick. I remember the day I showed him Blizzard. He was totally blown away. He said “I have no &*$% idea how you did that. You fooled me.” That was a nice moment for me, especially knowing that he was one of the best in the business. He never had too much pride when it came to giving you compliments. You must deserve them though. He didn’t just give them away freely.

 

Even when he was in the Hospital in his last days he loved to see card magic. When I went to see him, and he wasn’t feeling good at all, he would always want to see a trick. His poor hands were swollen and he would still take the deck and try to show us something. Even up to his last days on this planet he kept trying. I couldn’t believe that anyone could love the art as he did. Especially when you are ready to pass on. Unbelievable.

 

He would always say “Hello young man,” and then “thanks for coming to see me.”

 

I consider The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings to be one of the best books in magic today. So much great material in one book. He is truly missed.

Dean Dill

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I saw Larry Jennings perform close-up on my first visit to the Castle—that was over 20 years ago. The audience seemed a little restless, Larry too, maybe. I was enthralled. A few years later through the kindness of near strangers I had the opportunity to sit for a few hours with Larry, Michael Skinner and Vernon in the Professor’s corner of the Castle. I knew I didn’t deserve my seat but would allow no one to pry me from it. Larry showed me such generosity that night—the proper way to do the Stevens control, tipping the bottom palm the old bastard deity in the corner had repeatedly “demonstrated,” the generous inscription in my copy of Larry’s just-published book (the best collection of sleight-of-hand we had seen for many years). I see now that it was his kindness that transformed a remarkable evening into such a cherished memory. A few more years passed and I spent a weekend with Larry and three other giants of his generation in a small private gathering. It was my own little city but I was the one out of place. Closing my eyes I can still picture Larry, his personal pitcher of Margaritas in hand, boldly wobbling through that gaudy Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque. He probably could drink anybody under the table. (Except Michael Skinner, that is—bad idea, that.)  I do envy the ones who spent more private time with him. But how lucky we all are that his beautiful mind is on perpetual display through the description of his best magic, infused with a grace of thought and elegance of construction that is scarcely to be matched anywhere else.

Ernest Earick 

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I will tell you that Larry was simply the best. Here are my reasons.

 

His touch with a deck of cards was unique. He did not pretend to have style while handling the cards—he really had style.

 

His knowledge was as big as his creativity.

 

His commanding personality was intimidating.

 

His calm while doing difficult sleights was amazing.

 

His politeness when he asked you to help him for some effect was incredibly persuasive.

 

His sense of humor was light and fun.

 

Him humbleness was perfectly balanced.

 

He was simply the authority.

 

He tops everyone else. Just look at his books—his thoughts, his handlings—I simply love them all. The construction of his effects was very solid.

 

I think Jennings was so great that he always allowed his old friend, teacher and admirer (Vernon) to be the Master and idol at his kingdom of the Magic Castle.

 

Jennings had a different kingdom in a different world.

 

His crown was his intelligence and his castle was his heart where every one who liked to witness miracles was allowed.

 

Jennings—the King of Spades, the Lethal Deception.

Fenik 

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Larry Jennings to me was one of the outstanding constructors of card tricks—perfect blendings of effects and methods, each supporting the other. It seemed like he was never satisfied just to have a trick work or even amaze—his tricks had no loose ends and no gratuitous actions. This is in the great Walton/Elmsley tradition, and has been a goal that I’ve tried to emulate in my poor man’s way.

J.K. Hartman

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The day the Professor and Larry stayed in their hotel room

 

When Dai Vernon and Larry Jennings visited Japan for their lecture tour in 1969, there were two hours they shut out visitors from their room.

 

It was the two hours after they watched Dr. Sawa's magic for the first time. He performed for them his beautiful magic including the famous Pearl Act, Piano trick, etc.

 

The Professor and Larry were shocked with Sawa's magic and were talking about what they witnessed for these two hours. Later the Professor and Larry admitted there was poetry in Sawa's magic.

 

After coming back to the United States, the Professor and Larry talked about the beauty of Sawa's magic and recommended that the Magic Castle and other clubs invite Dr. Sawa to the United States. Afterwards, Dr. Sawa became well known for his unique magic all over the world.

 

I am very lucky to have witnessed the Professor and Larry shed a tear seeing beautiful magic.

Hideo Kato

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Reflections of a friendship...

 

When one tries to recall the true meaning of a very close friendship that spanned close to forty years, mere words offer little to the significance of that relationship.

 

Larry Jennings’ passing has left a tremendous void in my life. I could always count on him to elevate my thinking when it came to the intricacies of sophisticated sleight of hand and the role they played in the art of total deception. Larry’s personality and philosophy were an open book. What you saw was what you got. Larry was Larry! Few of his friends knew that beneath that sometimes candid demeanor, was a poet with a heart of gold. I treasure the times spent with Larry and his devoted wife B. J. in their home. I always felt like one of the family and still look forward to seeing B. J. and the opportunity to reminisce about the man whose legacy has raised the bar of eloquent sleight of hand to a level few will ever achieve.

Roger Klause

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I think Larry Jennings is one of the most inspiring magicians ever. Larry’s work contains some of the most surprising moments in magic. His creativity seemed endless. His magic was consistently high quality and innovative.  His work was one of the reasons close-up magic was so much fun for me.

 

I was in high school the first time I saw Larry’s tricks. A friend showed me “Transmutation” from Larry Jennings on Card & Coin Handling. That color changing deck was a knockout. When I finally got a hold of the book, I found his methods were as much fun to do, as his tricks were to watch. I really liked that book. I got a hold of Vernon’s Ultimate Secrets next. Larry’s section was the best part. I started to notice that Larry’s tricks have a unique signature. You can tell if a trick is Larry’s just by reading the method. Learning Larry’s magic was never a disappointment.  He always lived up to his reputation.

 

I had the privilege of meeting Larry in the mid-1980s. Bill Goodwin introduced us. Larry was sitting at Vernon’s table in front of the Magic Castle’s Close-Up Gallery. The first trick I saw him do was “The Mystery Card.” Larry was a real performer. He had an engaging presentation, as well as a great sense of timing, misdirection, and humor.  He didn’t tell jokes. Instead, he dropped hints during the trick that he didn’t take himself too seriously. I saw all this in the first trick.

 

Even when Larry was busted, he kept his sense of humor. I took my girlfriend to the Castle and we ran into Larry (at the same table, of course). I asked him to show her some magic. He showed her three tricks and at the end of each one she apologized and admitted she saw what he did, and described it. She was right each time. Larry looked at me and said, “Young man, you’ve been showing her too many card tricks.”

 

The most inspiring thing about Larry is that although he published hundreds of effects, I suspect this material represents just the tip of the iceberg.

Ray Kosby 

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When people think of sleight of hand artists, they tend to think of “virtuoso pianist” hands—lean, lithe hands with long slim fingers. Larry Jennings was a bear of a man, with hands the size of dinner plates. But there is no question he had the touch of the “virtuoso.” Observers didn’t see quick, furtive movements of those hands; the movements were slow, deliberate, natural, and yet magical things happened. How could that be? How could those coins fly one at a time into my hands? How could those aces appear on top of each packet, and do so face up? It must have been magic!

Gene Matsuura

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Here is an amusing story of my late great friend and magician, Larry Jennings. The story was related to me in 1979 while on a visit to Faucett Ross in St. Joseph, Missouri.

 

One time, both Dai Vernon and Larry were paying a visit to Faucett and he took both gentlemen to the Ross family cemetery. After pointing out the names of his bygone relatives, Faucett said that there are only two plots left—one for Dai and Faucett. Larry couldn’t resist in asking where was his plot. Faucett again said to Larry that there are only two, so after Larry pondered awhile, he said that he had a solution. Larry said that all you have to do is dig the Professor’s hole deeper and then he could be buried with the Professor. The Professor said that you’re not going to do that because—“let’s face it, Larry, you’re a large and heavy man and I don’t want a heavy person buried above me.” Faucett couldn’t contain himself and laughed aloud. They later said that it was a leg pulling and they all laughed. Larry held the Professor in the highest reverence as we all do.

Allen Okawa

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LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS TOULEZ

A Meeting of Leavened Minds

 

Everyone eventually feels the full weight of their mortality and when the “dwindling down of days” seems fast enough to take your breath away, you pause and reflect. Otherwise, there are enough distractions on the fast track to keep eschatological thoughts at bay. Nevertheless, sooner or later, you reach the “end of idle and serious play” - a time for savoring prolonged moments of reverie.

This comes to mind because I’m remembering an all-too-brief session I had with Larry Jennings at the Magic Castle. It was the last time I spent with him person-to-person. Twenty-five years had passed since our first meeting in New Orleans at the 1971 I.B.M. Convention. We had quite a session back then and I was impressed by how much Larry had learned from Dai Vernon. Likewise, I had learned a lot from Ed Marlo, my mentor. We did not speak about our teachers that first day, but their influence was obvious, along with our abiding affection for each of them. As they say in the Big Easy, we “let the good times roll.” Laissez les bon temps toulez!

Despite disagreements and dust ups in the past, Larry was a kindred spirit. We share similar blue-collar backgrounds and have a similar rough-edged way of verbally expressing ourselves. But it was uplifting to see him again at the Magic Castle, despite his debilitating health problems. We eventually ended up in a corner across from Irma, the ghostly piano. Our extended conversation, probably unintelligible to outsiders, was marked by meaningful silences. We sat, sipped Diet Cokes, did a few card tricks, and talked about our beloved, departed teachers. Few people noticed the two white-bearded, slightly grizzled, decidedly odd cardmen in the corner; and nobody knew they were the fortunate benefactors of two legends in magic - Dai Vernon and Ed Marlo. We may have looked like veterans of an undeclared, unremembered war, but one thing was certain: we were grateful for our lasting friendships with our mentors.

For us, the physical passing of Vernon and Marlo was a hard fact to accept and reconcile. Our recovery was slow, but enduring memories of those friendships were nurturing. Besides the wealth of published material everybody shares today, Larry and I were privileged to share their secret thoughts. More important, a certain elan vital was permanently drawn into our hearts. Vernon and Marlo loved magic in a contagious way and such enduring ardor inspired creativity in others. They empowered friends and colleagues to seek excellence and mastery; and they encouraged us to love magic as deeply as they did.

In almost a whisper, Larry turned to me that day and said, “I think of him everyday!”

“I know what you mean,” I added. “We were blessed!”

An apothegm by William Arthur Ward springs to mind: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” Vernon and Marlo were great teachers. They are, in fact, still inspiring and teaching new generations of magicians. I saw this whenever Larry performed a trick. Although he wheezed to breathe that day, the force of Vernon’s elan vital made the cards magically move in his hands. It brightened his eyes and made him glow. When his shoulders shook and his laugh ruffled the air, I laughed as well and for the same reasons. Now Larry’s body of word teaches and inspires.

Laissez les bon temps roulez.
Jon Racherbaumer

This originally appeared in slightly different form in the May 1996 issue of Magic (p. 61).

 

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When I moved my family west in 1992, I learned that Larry Jennings lived in North Hollywood (a residential neighborhood, not to be confused with Hollywood). This was very close to the town I’d settled in, Burbank (an ultra residential neighborhood, not to be confused with North Hollywood). One evening he saw my act at The Magic Castle, from the front row. Nothing fell on the floor or burst into flame that night, so I had an excuse to talk to him. Eventually I gathered the courage to call Larry up and pretty much invite myself over. Outside his house was a big, big maroon car, the kind of car you don’t walk by without noticing. Inside the house was Larry, also big. I’m not sure if we went out for ribs that day, or if it started later, but that happened a few times. Larry would get one rack to eat there, and one rack for home. And of course we’d talk/do magic. In general, the things I’d planned to show him would go awry, but he never seemed to mind. He always got the idea and he’d have a thought or two, if not his own (better) version of the plot. I never understood Larry’s generosity to me, I was simply grateful for it. I’d get together with him for all the selfish reasons. He was famous and knowledgeable, and I loved soaking up what I could from him, and forcing him to do moves I’d only read about. I did bring In & Out burgers over a good deal of the time, so in that small way I wasn’t completely selfish. He started staying in more, and our conversations we’re often about things other than sleight of hand. One day, when talking about his background, he told me that he never had a plan. He never intended to become an internationally known close-up master, he just did what he did and that was the result. Everything about Larry was an education. Here was this great bear of a man, a plumber, whose contemplative mind and superior skills brought him to a strange and beautiful part of the world where he will be remembered for generations. Larry’s death occurred not long after my mother’s, and with it the ugly lesson that, in one way, a life comes down to a person in a room. But Larry created beautiful things. He made music, and so many of us continue to enjoy it.

David Regal 

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I recall I had been in LA a couple of years. A few of my first friends—Dai Vernon, Ron Wilson, Steve Freeman, and Jeff Altman—would tell me about this guy Larry Jennings, and what a terrific mind he had for constructing magic effects. More specifically—but not exclusively—cards. I was anxious to meet him, but our paths never seemed to cross since he lived in Lake Tahoe. One day I had an opportunity to attend my first magic convention in San Diego. I went with a friend, Frank Simon, who authored a terrific magic book called Versatile Card Magic.

 

Frank and I went into the hotel and we were introduced to the famous Larry Jennings by, I believe, Steve Freeman. Larry sat at a table, smoking a cigarette and having a drink. He didn't know us from beans, but welcomed us to sit with him, and soon we were laughing our heads off as Larry performed some of the most magical, unique card effects I had ever seen (exempting Steve Freeman from any contest). I found him willing to share some of his work with us, and an open book in sharing thoughts and emotions.

 

My nature is to ask a great deal of questions when I meet people. I asked Larry these same questions: Where did you grow up? What was it like? In general tell me about your life? Larry held back nothing, and we bonded. Unfortunately, many of the stories Larry told cannot be shared here because of the nature of those stories. He did tell me he was a little guy, very poor, who was picked on as a kid until one day he took the bully and beat him up. After that, no one fooled with little Larry Jennings.

 

Larry was a warm, gentle, giant, who could lose his temper when he had a few drinks—not unlike most under the same duress. He was typical of many of the people I had grown up with in Bangor, Maine. He shared his love of magic with everyone, and helped so many of us refine our handling of the pasteboards and other items. Larry also had an extraordinary ability to put patter together, which we all know is the most difficult part of creating magic when you need to speak.

 

I loved getting together with a few of the guys at Larry’s house to watch a professional fight on television. Often, my friend Tony Giorgio would be there and between he and Larry (who dug the hell out of each other no matter what they said), there was always a little preliminary match before the one on television! The evening always ended in laughter.

 

Larry was always sitting at the Magic Castle bar doing his thing with the pasteboards. He always had someone around him to entertain. My buddy John Carney does a great impression of Larry attempting to do a classy presentation of a ‘take a card’ trick after a few too many at the Castle bar. He addresses the well-dressed guests, “Good evening, gentlemen . . . .” I’ll leave the rest for Carney to tell!

 

Larry and I were great friends, and I often think of him, and Mike Skinner. I’ll always miss them. They played a great role in my life in magic.

Deane Stern

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When I turned fifteen, my brother gave me magic lessons with Derek Dingle as a present. I met Derek at the Lamb’s Club in New York City, and he took me downstairs to where the card tables were, and taught me miracles. Of all the tricks he taught me, the ones that astonished me the most were by Larry Jennings, who Derek said was a genius. For years afterward, I would scour the magic books, looking for anything by Jennings, which I would immediately learn. By the time I finally met Larry in 1990 at the Magic Castle, I’d learned and performed every single trick he’d put in print. In my mind, Larry was one of the great magical geniuses of the past century.

Jim Swain 

  __________________________

 

 

I only met Larry Jennings once, when he attended a British magic convention.

 

However, prior to that I had corresponded with him for many years by audio tapes. I found him to be a straightforward likeable man with a tremendous interest in magic, in particular with cards.

 

He was acknowledged by his peers to be one of the top card conjurers in the world and this honour was completely justified.

 

His routines are very well constructed and he had an eye for strong effects.

 

I sincerely believe that all magicians interested in the “art of conjuring” will benefit by a study of his work.

 

Whilst I only met Larry once, he is someone I will always remember and it was a privilege to have him as a friend.

Roy Walton

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…An Old Horse Trader

The Devil was there when Larry smiled, not the evil lord of the Underworld, but the mischievous sprite who looks out at you from the Carter poster, that friendly fellow with the upturned mustache and the mischievous gleam in his eye. The Larry I knew was always up to the kind of “no-good” that always turned out great. I once had the privilege of watching him go to great lengths to fool a fellow magician (and all I am willing to disclose is that Larry was forced to purchase the same pack of cards twice in one night). The result of Larry’s efforts was a well-posted card man being totally fooled by a principle he knew well but was unable to recognize under the circumstances. It was a sinister gift from a man who knew exactly what he was giving.

 

Larry had involuntarily given me the same present in a different wrapper, years before. I was fortunate to have seen Larry perform his “Look an Illusion” during a retrospectively embarrassing early segment of my “formative years,” a time when I knew everything. How appropriate that the great gift of Larry’s performance was to unknowingly give me insight by taking away my own sense of understanding.

 

When I think of Larry, the moment that always comes to mind happened one afternoon at the Magic Castle. I had just picked-up the first completed sets of gimmicked keys that were machined for me by the experts at Johnson Products. I scrutinized all of the keys to find the most perfect set for my own use. An hour later I was heading up the stairs of the Castle to discover Larry relaxing at the bar. “Hey kid, fool me,” was his greeting, and I did my best to accommodate his request using my recently acquired toys. The combination of my good luck and Johnson’s great metal work produced a very surprised look on Larry’s face. “You fooled me!” said Larry, with a smile that was even bigger than my own. “Do you want to talk about it?” he asked, openly indicating his interest. “I’m going to be selling them,” was my explanation in lieu of an explanation. “Sign me up, how much?” he asked, his hand already reaching around to remove his wallet. I took a moment and showed him the details of the method, finally revealing the invisible gimmick that had been machined with impossible precision. He smiled and shook his head as he examined the gaffed key.

 

I offered, “I’d like to give you one Larry, I’ll go to my car and get one for you.”

 

“I’ll take this one,” he replied, not looking up at me.

 

“No, let me get you a new one,” I countered.

 

We both just stood there for a moment and then looked at each other. Our smiles were simultaneous and we both started laughing.

 

Larry spoke first, “Don’t want to part with your worker, eh?”

 

I started to speak, but before I could say a word he continued, “Relax kid, I’m an old horse trader myself.”

 

I let Larry keep my “worker” that afternoon. We met again many times after that, and always recalled that day with me and made a point of mentioning it.

 

I remember all the days with him.

Michael Weber 

 

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Copyright © Bill Goodwin 2014