Ted Salter. The Man with the Magic Marker.
If you have ever visited the Magic Castle in Hollywood you have admired this man’s work even if you can’t quite place the name. In fact I am fairly willing to bet that 95% of the visitors the Castle receives have never heard of Ted.
I hope I captured your interest with my snappy opening paragraph because there isn’t a lot that is flashy in my memories of Ted Salter. However in his quiet and unassuming manner Ted has left an indelible mark on the Castle with his wonderful portraits of magicians that grace the walls of our clubhouse.
In fact quiet and unassuming isn’t a bad way to begin describing Ted; then you could add kindly, gifted and multitalented. Ted was a successful freelance graphic artist who transplanted himself from England into a small friendly office on Highland Avenue in Hollywood.
A lover of all things theatrical, Ted was as pleased as punch to contribute his talent to the Magic Castle. Every now and then an 8X10 was sent to his office and a short while later he delivered one of his drawings to the upstairs office at the Castle to be added to the impressive collection that he had previously donated.
Ted was an artist in a wide variety of fields. His wife Eileen had accompanied Ted in many of his theatrical endeavors. They were the kind of couple who could not only create and write a musical production but they could build the scenery and perform it too.
My favorite ‘Salter Production’ was their annual New Years Eve Party. I write that title in capitals advisedly as this was no small event. I suspect they began work on it by February or March at the latest each year. It consisted of games, entertainment and enough excitement to fill half a dozen regular parties.
When you had the opportunity to visit the Salter’s home on a less busy evening it would often end with Ted removing a picture (painted by him of course) from the wall and revealing a movie projector that lined up with the only blank wall in their home. You could then settle back and enjoy one of his collection of classic British and Hollywood movies. Ah, the joys of film in a pre-video era!
After the birth of my second daughter Ted asked me to drop around to his house. To my amazement he had built an incredible miniature theater for them. It was a prototype and he was donating the full design and blueprints to the ‘Mirth Maker’ magazine but he wanted to make sure it really worked!
Eventually Ted retired and they moved from Hollywood. Finally his original artwork ceased to arrive in the Castle office and one more special touch was missing from our unique clubhouse. Before he left Los Angeles though he had one more surprise for me. He built an amazingly intricate and beautiful dolls house for my daughters. It is still in our garage and every time I see it I remember with real affection Ted Salter. He was another of the unsung heroes that contributed to making the Magic Castle in its heyday such a special place.