20 Questions with Falkenstein & Willard

Falkenstein and Willard: Masters of Mental Magic – 3 DVD Set $99.95

Related product: Willard – A Life Under Canvas by David Charvet – $85.00

Falkenstein & WillardYou both had separate careers prior to meeting. Which came first, the personal or professional relationship?

GLENN: The professional relationship was slightly ahead of the personal by minutes. We met by way of friend and pickpocket Ricky Dunn at Knott’s Berry Farm in 1978 where Frances was performing five shows a day in “The Grand Illusions of Carl Beck.” Carl Beck was presenting a slightly modernized version of the Willard Cabinet Act. I could see the potential in reverting to the original version. I felt it would compliment my mental act, and I fell in love with the act and the medium!

Milt Larsen happened to be scouting for acts for his annual “It’s Magic” show and I thought the idea of presenting the Spirit Cabinet with Frances in that production might appeal to him. Milt signed us up for the extended hit run of “It’s Magic” at Variety Arts. The act took off and we went along with it! The rest is magical and romantic history.

Glenn, what performers were influential in your thinking and development as a mentalist?

GLENN: Paul Rosini worked for my father, Louie Falkenstein, who owned and operated the Hi Hat Club on Rush Street in Chicago. This was my first experience with seeing a great performer. I was blown away by Harlan Tarbell after seeing him at Orchestra Hall in Chicago in 1945. He performed his blindfold routine called “Radar Fingers.” There was also Irving the Magician, who appeared annually at my elementary school. Both Johnny Thompson and I attended that school and Irving impressed us both.

In 1947, I went to work for Abbott’s Magic Store in the Wood’s Theatre Building. All of the magicians would visit on weekends. It was located across the street from the Chicago Round Table, a hangout for all the Chicago and visiting magicians. It was not unusual to have Mardoni and Louise, Jack Kodell, Jack Gwynne and family, Dr. Stanley Jaks, Harry Blackstone, Sr., Dante, Doc and Ann Mahendra, and all the greats visiting the shop.

In 1965, I moved to Los Angeles and magician Ed Fowler introduced me to the Hollywood Wax Museum, where I jumped out and scared visitors. This job evolved into developing a mind reading routine. Spooney, the owner, liked it and encouraged me to continue.

Eventually, Milt Larsen came down and invited me to perform at the newly opened Magic Castle in Hollywood. For five years, I was a regular performer each weekend with my mind reading. Thanks to Dai Vernon, Slydini, Kuda Bux, Frances Carlyle, Norm Nielsen, Ricky Dunn, Marvyn Roy, and Peter Pit (who gave me bits of business and advice), my mind reading developed. As I look back, I’m so grateful to the many fellow performers, members of the Castle, IBM, SAM, and magic clubs worldwide who have encouraged my work with bookings.

Frances, could you fill our readers in on the history of the Spirit Cabinet, one of the routines you’re both noted for?

FRANCES: From my earliest memory of my father’s magic tent show, the Willard Spirit Cabinet was a featured closing illusion. My mother, Joy, performed it in combination with a ghost walk at the finish. She and my father performed it in the same manner as his own parents, Lucy and James Willard (also “Willard the Wizard” under canvas).

At the conclusion of the cabinet, the house lights would go to dark and several ghosts would appear at the top, at the door, and then emerge from the cabinet and walk down the aisle of the tent, scaring people off the stage and sometimes out of the tent! Then the ghost was commanded to return to the cabinet, the lights would go up, and the medium was still in a trance and still bound to an upright board. It was a very powerful act, especially in the Bayou country, and the day after the ghost walk, the tent would be a mess, with chairs overturned and people’s belongings left behind in their rush to escape!

Following the death of my mother, my Dad taught me the act. I performed the Spirit Cabinet Act with Dad for the first time for a T.A.O.M. Convention in 1958. It was a total surprise to the magicians that night. I think my father was surprised that I actually could work the act and, that night, the ghost walked. The ghost segment was dropped when I met Glenn. We felt that something more in keeping with sophisticated audiences of today would need to be developed. So, we came up with the appearance of the medium at the top of the enclosure instead.

According to family history, my great- grandparents were magicians in Ireland. Whether the original version of the Cabinet originated out of Ireland is unclear. There were many spirit seances conducted throughout the U.S. and England around the turn of the century. As early as 1875, Anna Eva Fay performed a similar spirit demonstration with bandages while seated in front of an upright board.

It is conceivable that either she saw the method my grandparents performed or my grandparents adapted their two-person presentation based on something they had seen. Either way, Anna Eva Fay’s version was more closely related to the Willard method than any, according to historians and newspaper accounts. Anna Eva Fay was considered to be the “World’s Greatest Mental Telepathist.” Although she did not perform with other magicians, she eventually surrounded herself with a company of other various vaudeville performers and became wealthy.

Could you tell us a bit more about the Mardoni’s, the originators of the two-person telepathy method you both have taken to new heights?
Frances Willard

FRANCES: In the 1980’s, Glenn and I began to search for something that would expand our repertoire. He had recalled seeing an elegant couple in Chicago performing a two- way act. Although we had seen Liz and Tom Tucker and had heard of the legendary Harry and Francis Usher and also Eddie Fields, we did not know where to turn to begin an act of our own. Cas Boxley was kind enough to offer us the course of The Great Jesters and Tommy Tucker sent us his course which we took along on a cruise we did, hoping to learn it. All of it seemed like Greek to us and we could not get started.

Then Glenn recalled The Great Mardoni’s, who had performed with all the big bands with their mentalism and magic show. He also remembered working with them at the Mayfair Music Hall in Milt’s show. So, we rang them up and they could not have been warmer or more hospitable.

We went to their home several times for dinner and one evening, they popped the question. Louise said, “Mardoni and I were talking and you know we have no children of our own. How would you like to learn the act?” We were thrilled and that night, they wrote their code act down on one sheet of paper. When I saw Louise call out a dollar bill in my living room one evening, I thought I was witnessing a miracle! I wanted to learn the act more than ever. So, for a number of years, we were friends, and after that, when we went to their house, Mardoni would never permit me to come in until I could guess what object he had coded. They were two of the most gracious, fun and good-natured people we have ever met and we will never forget them.

Frances, how did being a part of your father’s (Willard the Wizard) shows prepare you for the act you and Glenn currently perform?

FRANCES: My father was a strict Victorian disciplinarian when it came to stage deportment. His backstage was a sacred area limited to only the family and loyal assistants. He was a very theatrical magician, wore crepe hair and moustache and powdered a streak across his thick dark hair to appear older. (Sometimes he would forget and slap his head in astonishment, and the powder would poof up in cloud of smoke! The audience would laugh, and I don’t think he ever realized why.)

He wore tails, a black cape, starched collars, diamond stud, a white rosebud in his lapel, and his vest was packed with the small effects with which he opened the first part of his magic show. He stood about
5′ 4″ but when he hit the stage, he appeared to be larger than life. He always advised, “Magic is a jealous art and, like the old lion tamer in the cage, never weaken or turn your back on it.”

Like the famous circus stars he had known, Daddy trained us to smile, walk softly on and back off the stage and never turn our backs to the audience. “All eyes on the center ring!” was the Willard philosophy on stage. He believed that nothing should detract from the magician. Off stage, his motto was, “Pick up that gum wrapper… leave the lot clean…we may want to come back here sometime.” As a result, the Willard Show was welcomed back year after year for generations.

He disassociated himself from what he referred to as “carnies” or certain types of concession shows who “burned up the territory” by bilking the spectators. On the Willard Show, the seven Willard kids learned that the Golden Rule and good manners pays off both on and off the stage. We learned that without it, no performer could be considered professional.

On the last World’s Greatest Magic special, there was, along with a legitimate code act, a comedy mentalism act. What is your opinion of a comedy act that seems to expose the idea of a verbal code?

GLENN: Exposure is tipping the method. Exposure is exposure, even if the audience is entertained and laughs. All exposure takes its toll eventually. The reason the two-way act became an endangered species and practically vanished in the first place is because people were starting to expose and do comedy take-offs on it for the general public and many television comedians jumped on the bandwagon.

It’s easy to take short cuts and poke fun at something that takes years to develop. It only takes a few minutes to unravel what has taken years to build. There is no great genius in that. The question each magician should ask himself is, “Is it possible to advance as an artist without hurting someone else?” I think that no one is a true artist until he honestly seeks ways to express his art without diminishing it, or doing detriment to someone else in the process.

It’s really more about respect and professional courtesy than secrets, isn’t it? That should be the only criteria for our choices. Professional respect and courtesy for your act, for your audience, for those who preceded you and for all those who follow should be the watchwords.

Your performing careers have spanned a number of decades. How have audiences changed over the years and how have you had to change your act to accommodate changing audience attitudes?

FRANCES: Public tastes do vary somewhat over the decades, but thankfully, some things remain constant. We are continually surprised that in a city such as L.A., where audiences have every entertainment choice available, that there remains those who can still be entertained by magic. Just when you think the public may become jaded, there appears the most naive, innocent and amazed group ever. In spite of the information age and the obvious exploitation of magic, some human kind still manage to fall back on innocence. As performers, we are fulfilled when these folks are in our audiences.

We need to treasure this Golden Age of Magic for however long it may last. It wasn’t always so and, in the 1950s, I watched my father’s booming magic tent show extravaganza of packed houses deteriorate to school gyms with 11 to 17 people in the audience. It was the advent of television and audiences preferred to remain at home in air conditioned living rooms and watch it! It was a sad day for magic in the hot Southern towns.

People believed that magic would never ever go over on TV. Then the Aquarian Age was ushered in and with it came Doug Henning, Mark Wilson, The Magic Castle, Siegfried and Roy, Channing Pollock, publications, videos, resorts, and theme parks. Magic has not experienced such popularity since the Golden ’20s and ’30s of the big stage shows.

It seems that after every major war, there is a resurgence in spiritualism and mentalism. This was true of the great wars, even the American Civil War, when seances were conducted across England and the U.S. The Aquarian Age, following Vietnam, may have occurred in part because people needed to believe there is something beyond this, and popularity or fascination with that which transcends the five senses reached an all-time high.

At present, both Western and Eastern magic seems to be holding in spite of masked magicians, 900 numbers, etc. But, as we enter the year 2000, magic will need to keep up with the rapidly changing tastes of a more informed public. We predict audience involvement will mean more as we enter an age when individuality seems more at stake.

Today, the performing arenas are different and we have to adapt. However, there are constants, such as the professional attitude of the performer and the basic entertainment needs of the audience. With this in mind, we continue to adapt as artists as we fathom the information age and age of exploitation. This can be good, in that adapting to all types of arenas and audiences stretches us as performers.

Glenn FalkensteinWhat, in your opinion, is the difference between mentalism and magic?

GLENN: Mentalism is another branch of magic, as much as any other kind of magic. I refer to my field as “mental magic” because that’s what it is. Mental magic relies less on apparatus than other types of magic. Mentalists are minimalists when it comes to equipment. However, what a mentalist lacks in equipment, he must make up for in other ways. For example, a good mentalist must be well informed and up on current events. In mentalism, confidence is hard to feign. Only years of working with an audience and honing your act can give you that edge you need.

A mentalist is also subjected to more questions from the audiences than most magicians. In fact, as a mentalist, I have always opened up a portion of my show to questions from the audience. While this leaves you vulnerable to skeptics, more than anything else, this practice can stretch and condition you as a mentalist. Mentalism is not for sissies, and if you can learn to side- step the inevitable skeptical questions that go with the territory, you will be in demand as a performer of mental magic, East Indian magic, ESP, or mentalism.

I seldom, if ever, refer to myself as a psychic. To call yourself a psychic can be limiting in some circles. What I am is a magician and I practice East Indian or Mental Magic. That is all.

In an age of instant communication, where do you see the art of mentalism going in the next century?

GLENN: For the first quarter of this century, I believe mentalism will flourish. Beyond that, as more technical miracles pop up over the horizon, as mankind advances individually and collectively, what seems supernatural now will be considered natural. We think mentalism is supernatural, because the majority of us function on a sub-natural level. One day, we may catch up to our capabilities.

What performers do you predict will make up the next generation of mentalists?

GLENN: Above all, mentalism must be entertaining and it must move. Show business is still personality, so those performers with a strong personality or mature persona have the best chance. The corporate magicians, and those that are interested in motivational speaking, or those who can interrelate using comedy and magic, psychology, theatre or all of these, will be the best candidates. Professional men and women who are educated and well versed in dramatic arts and those who understand the history of mentalism will have a good chance to succeed in this field. If they have a degree in advertising, public relations, or the corporate arena, that would help also.

Show business is two words: show and business. Without the business sense, and how to promote one’s act, it doesn’t make too much difference how much talent is there. As a mentalist, you are functioning in a specialized field within a specialized field of magic. But, whatever field of magic we are in requires a business head somewhere in our lives. An aspiring mentalist needs to evaluate who he is and stay true as much as possible to that identity. It is crucial to understand the way the public perceives a mentalist and then act accordingly.

There are a number of mentalists who combine “readings” and the like with mental effects, usually done as “demonstrations.” Any opinions?

GLENN: If you are a decent mentalist, you will be approached by sincere believers who will very likely request a private reading. Our policy is to steer away from private readings in the most polite manner possible. Our mission is to entertain and not to mislead anyone. At the same time, it is not our mission to shock someone or disillusion him, or deprive him of whatever faith or hope he may harbor.

We have found that if people truly believe you are real, there is not much you can say or do to change their mind without stripping them of hope. Our purpose is to enchant, entertain, make people smile and forget their troubles for a time by injecting positive wishes and surprises into our program. For a mentalist, there is always the temptation to take money in exchange for further advice. My best advice is don’t. There is a line which each of us must draw for the sake of ethics and professionalism. The degree of skill to which you can do this will decide your fate as a top notch performer of mental magic.

What is your take, as working mentalists, on the public’s seemingly endless fascination with 900 psychic numbers and the like?

GLENN: Mentalism is based on the principle of telling someone something personal about themselves. When you do this, you are talking about the most important person in the world. You are talking about them! Every human being craves three simple things. We all want and need to be loved, noticed and appreciated. That is the reason we do anything, regardless of how it may appear otherwise. Visibility of a spectator is enjoyable not only to that person, but to all those who know him. When an audience member is singled out in a mental act, the audience becomes the act.

This is the secret to the 900 numbers and the popularity of it. They are simply filling a basic human urge to be noticed and appreciated and understood and accepted. Also, they would like to believe that someone has this power, and that they too might have this innate power.

You produced an earlier video that was mostly performance only. What led you to the decision to release some of the closely guarded secrets of your act on this new set of videos for L & L?

FRANCES: Timing is a lot of it. We have reached that time in our career when we would like to leave a little legacy to magic. To quote and paraphrase Robert Altman, “There’s nothing like a ‘live’ performance while it’s happening. But unlike a movie, when it’s over it’s gone for good, and sometimes this can be heartbreaking. Magic videos have helped to record and save forever a variety of great magical moments. These videos have created archives of magic history that will go on long after the performers have vanished into thin air. As an artist and an audience, they have my thanks.

Today, we are invited to magic clubs to lecture. We enjoy sharing Glenn’s lifetime experience accumulated performing mentalism. It is fulfilling for me to relate stories and anecdotes about my father and our traveling tent show. Although we have some rare, all too brief film clips from the ’50s and ’60s (and there does exist an audio tape of his voice), that is not enough for me. If only video tapes had been in existence in his heyday under canvas! At that time, he would have not allowed the taping of his show, but were he alive today, I think he might have seen the wisdom of it. If his shining moments under canvas had been captured on professional video, it would have altered magic history somewhat.

Because of these videos, magic and those who performed it will be preserved. Aspiring magicians who desire to follow a certain line of mental magic, close-up or illusion, should have no difficulty finding excellent role models. The story of what we, as magicians in this golden age, were about will live on long after we are gone.

I must admit that before Michael Ammar first announced he was doing a magic video, I had my doubts. Although videos and classes can be a two-edged sword, meeting dedicated students of magic around the world has convinced me that there is more good than harm to arise from sharing our art with aspiring and dedicated fellow magicians. My only hope is that discretion and integrity will become a part of every student’s character. Again, it’s all about respect and consideration for others now and in the future.

What future projects are planned for Falkenstein and Willard?Falkenstein & Willard

FRANCES: Our favorite magic fantasy is to produce and perform in our own theatre play based on what we do and our backgrounds. I’d like it to be a permanent theatre home where it could be honed and created over a period of time. In a setting such as this, there exists unlimited theatrical possibilities. There are a number of books in the works including a novel on my tent show background, a booklet of metaphysical poetry and, hopefully, an illustrated coffee table book entitled “World’s Greatest Dogs and Their Magicians.” I have a number of magicians who have committed to participating in this project, with all the proceeds going to homeless dogs at the animal shelter.

We have managed a few magic lectures and found them very fulfilling. I find talking with magicians to be a great experience. (It’s more rewarding than getting all made up and coming out on stage, getting nailed to a board, and falling asleep!) We never had anything to sell before and that is another reason for the videos

Are there any other children who are inclined to enter magic or mentalism?

FRANCES: Hannah and Michael Ammar enjoy a busy career with their company, “Magic Works,” and are currently lecturing for several months in Germany, Austria and Turkey. When they were home last, we did get together and work on “The Gypsy Mystery” as they wanted to take it on board the Merriweather Post, a sailing vessel where they have been invited to perform.

Hannah recently expressed an interest in learning mentalism, and she is an excellent candidate to apprentice the Spirit Cabinet. My oldest daughter, Margo, just returned from assisting the Pendragons. She was also featured on “The World’s Most Dangerous Magic 2” in the Rat Attack sequence. Although she may never repeat the stunt, she accumulated enough humorous stories about the experience to do a stand-up comedy routine. She travels with her husband, Jim Timon, who is V.P. of Renaissance Entertainment.

My son, Aaron, is a pharmacy assistant, aspiring actor, and also manages Michael’s place while they are traveling. We nicknamed him ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ because he spends a lot of his hours winding invisible thread for Michael. In fact, Aaron invented a mechanical device to wind the thread more quickly. He inherited that mechanical genius from his grandfather, who was great with tools as a carpenter. (Incidentally, my father hand carved, costumed, and painted all his little people-sized marionettes. That was a special segment of his show that was very entertaining for young people.) Glenn also has a lovely daughter, Cathleen, who lives in Hidelberg. His son, Michael, manages a large Department store in L.A. and is quite a promotional manager.

You know, it’s difficult to predict which of your kids, if any, will follow in your footsteps, career-wise. I never expected to stay in magic all my life, although I wanted to be in theatre and on stage. Sometimes they decide, after several other career moves, that the family business is not so bad after all. I think appreciating your heritage grows with maturity and if followed, can bring good fortune.

What would you like to see happen with organized magic?

GLENN: I would like to see young aspiring magicians become more grounded in showmanship and respect for ethics.

We feel America needs a magic museum, theatre and library comparable to London’s Magic Circle, which is magnificent. Then there is the awesome 11 million dollar Houdin Museum, Theatre and Library in Blois, France in the hometown of Robert- Houdin. This could happen if the leading collectors or magic would form an alliance for funding a project in this country. I believe major private collectors are in the best position to start the ball rolling, to form a magnet for such a place.

It really is a shame that there is not yet a central place to serve as a magnet for so much good that is passing American magicians by. It could be a place where aspiring magicians could have grants, scholarships, and train. It could be a place where the public could become more aware that magic is worthy of as much respect as any other high art form. When this happens, it will advance magic as an art. People who want to leave grants, collections, etc. will not have to wonder which private collector deserves it the most. The Society of American Magicians does have a modest museum and Hall of Fame which magic treasures. It has so much potential and a few dedicated workers, but space is limited, and somewhat impermanent, and funding is sorely needed. Magic needs a permanent central home in America!

We know you have an opportunity to perform in a multitude of magic shows, conventions and performances. What would you change, if anything?

GLENN: The “World Alliance of Magicians” is an umbrella project to seek ways to maintain the mystery, tradition and ethics of magic. Although, not everyone shared our views or strategy, most all agreed on setting some guidelines for the future.

Currently, thanks to generous time, effort and donations from IBM, SAM, TAOM, Ken Klosterman, various magic groups and individuals, WAM managed to accumulate enough to engage the services of brilliant Cincinnati law students.These students, thanks to the efforts of Professor Glen Weissenberger, are currently in the process of researching and developing magic reference manuals which will serve as guidelines to magicians who seek new ways to protect their original material. By fall of 1999, it is projected that these two manuals will be available for magicians to review.

Our standard for producing a public magic show should be excellence. That is, we should demand the standards set by professional producers and creators of Broadway shows. The public today expects so much from a magic show, and every show worthy of a ticket needs to meet certain professional requirements.

I’ve always felt that magic needs a good creative director. For “It’s Magic” show, Dick Zimmerman was a great director and it really helps to view the show in its entirety. A magic show, more than most, needs a complete run-through and dress rehearsal and too often, this is not the case. It’s getting better, but no convention show should ever charge the public to see an unprofessional or amateur type show. Unseasoned performers should confine their performances to local meetings until ready. Most shows can only be as good as the weakest act on the bill. If I could change anything, it would be to put much more into our magic shows for the public.

What are your favorite performing memories?

FRANCES: Honestly, some of our favorite performing memories have been television shows. There is an undeniable “big time” air of excitement about it all.Generally, some of the top international acts are on the bill, as well as other celebrities.

One of my favorite TV shows we did, thanks to Sid Radner, was “The Search for Houdini.”It was a live show, and filmed at the Orpheum Theatre in L.A. The idea was that a real seance would be conducted by various skeptics on the date of Houdini’s death.The skeptics sat around a table saying, “Houdini, give us a sign…” and meanwhile, mishaps occurred all around them! This led several of us to feel that perhaps Houdini did come back, but in his own way and not the skeptics!

Milt Larsen’s “Magician’s Favorite Magicians” for CBS is dear because we were voted upon by our peers to be on that show. Part of the prize is working with the greats such as the Moretti’s, Blackstone, the Pendragons, Norm Nielsen, Shimada, Jeff McBride, etc.I’ve always said, “Glenn and I have had the very best of it, because we have traveled just enough. An occasional glamorous adventure keeps us alive, and we still never know, when the phone rings, what distant port may be calling.

We had a wonderful experience as a family as guests of a great Philippine mentalist, Nemesio Garcia. Michael, Hannah, Margo, Aaron, Glenn and I appeared in Cebu Coliseum in the Philippines to a crowd of 8,000 spectators. It was a fabulous two weeks and the Philippine people were wonderful. Most of the profits went to help the street children of Manila and the Philippines who were victims of natural disasters there.

We’ve had some hilarious, unforgettable moments with the volunteers seated inside the Spirit Cabinet through the years. Just when you think nothing new could possibly happen in magic, think again! We looked forward to performing at Six Flags Magic Mountain each Halloween season for seven years. We had our own theatre there and what we did was tailor made for their Halloween Haunt!

It’s fun to recall our trips to Tokyo with Fred Kaps, Channing Pollock and all the great performers. One Japanese appearance we did for Fuji network was a real trip! We were on a very popular series on psychic phenomena. They had a Buddhist Priest exorcising people, etc. We didn’t know what the format was until we got a copy of the video later. They requested that we not smile on stage and that we use a woman in the cabinet instead of a man. In Japan, no buckets can be put on a man’s head.

We love remembering our shows for the Limerick, Ireland magicians, since that is where the Willard ancestry descended. (Sometimes I think my Dad was part leprechaun as he was mischievous offstage and loved practical jokes.) One favorite show was performing at the London Magic Circle in their jewel box of a theatre with the fabulous mentalist David Berglas on the bill.

The other was a recent trip to Paris where we performed in the 200 year old cabaret Paradise Latin with real French Can Can Dancers. The show was “Mandrake’s D’or” and we received a Golden Mandrake award on Paris TV there.

Performing at Caesar’s Magical Empire was also nice, even though there were more of us backstage in the early days than in the audience. (My dream of playing Vegas came true, but the audience disappeared! During my first few minutes at Caesar’s, I walked on to a dark stage and fell through a trap. Welcome to Caesar’s world!)

What are some of the more unusual venues you’ve worked?

FRANCES: I can safely say, in our lifetimes, we have performed everywhere from cemeteries to sushi bars. From tent show to TV spans almost sixty years of working the Cabinet in all sorts of situations. I performed in the deep Bayou country of Louisiana and the oil fields of Texas with my Dad in his tent. With Glenn, we have put up the cabinet, worked mind reading on the windy beaches in Malibu, Hawaii, and performed for CEO’s as performers, guest speakers at breakfast meetings, golf tournaments, luncheons, banquets and large conventions, and private parties at resorts.

For the past twenty years since we teamed up for the 25th “It’s Magic” in L.A., we have been frequent performers at the Magic Castle and the incredible Wizard’s at Universal Studios. We have worked for and with celebrities, astronauts and U.S. presidents. Magic has given us so much more than we ever dreamed, and it is our many friends in magic we wish to thank for their encouragement.

Well, here’s your chance! Who would you like to thank?

GLENN and FRANCES: We wish to extend our appreciation to our family, our wonderful kids who have allowed us to entertain at other people’s parties while sometimes missing theirs. Frances would like to thank the seven Willard children, sisters and brothers, who each sacrificed parts of their lives at various times to keep the tent show moving! And also, “Auntie Mame,” Ann Sterling Mahendra, who gave several Willard kids a home, painted their dreams, and taught them health was wealth. We would also like to thank Michael and Hannah for hosting the new videos.

Also, we’d like to thank Louis Falanga and his staff, who are perfectionists. We are indebted to the family Larsens and the many good members of the Magic Castle. Thanks to Carl Beck and Channing Pollock for bringing me out of hibernation and back to magic. Thanks to British magicians, especially David Berglas, John Fisher and the Magic Circle. We appreciate our good friend, Fred Wood, for his support of WAM and his fine reputation as a magic club director.

We’d also like to thank all the inspiring professionals of mental magic including Dunninger, Mardoni, Tarbell, Kuda Bux, Mandrake, Berglas, Fogel, Jaks, the Mahendras and Bill Larsen, Sr. We, of course, also deeply appreciate the fine professional style of fellow mentalists who advance this field such as Eugene Burger, Max Maven, Larry Becker, Ted Lesley, Guy Bavli, Robert Dorian, The Amazing Kreskin, Bob Bluemle, and the members of the P.E.A. Special thanks also to Satori for his incredible presentation of silent code. Of course, we must not forget “The Great Alexander” and we also appreciate being included in Darryl Beckman’s book, The Life and Times of Alexander, Eugene Burger’s book, Spirit Theater, Dave Price’s Magic—A History of Conjurors in the Theater, Dawes and Carrington’s Magic, James Randi’s Conjuring, Dr. John Booth’s Dramatic Magic and The World’s Greatest Magic by Hyla Clark, Paul Levin and James Randi. Also, we’d like to send a special thank you to Bev Bergeron for his book, Willard the Wizard.

I would just like to add that in considering my life with my father in his full illusion show, and getting a close view of a close-up champion’s life (Michael Ammar, of course!), and working continually with a top performer of mentalism like Glenn, I wouldn’t trade any of it. Although if I had to choose, it would be the field of mentalism and spirit theatre.

Since meeting Glenn, I have come to understand what an act is, as compared to an entire show. With us, we go to a convention, we set up our act, we perform and basically, we are worry free. Growing up, I saw how difficult an illusion show can be and how much can go wrong. I truly admire what my parents did with a big tent show carrying two hours of magic each evening in all sorts of weather and conditions. Still, when we are in a beautiful hotel resort somewhere relaxing after a fulfilling performance, I can’t help but wish they had chosen the field of mental magic.

We love our work, but we are also into having fun and living a balanced life. Life is too short not to have a little fun with the work. That is possible for those who aspire to the field of mental magic and who are willing to put in the time and remain ethical.