Magic Castle Revisited. Part Six.

I couldn’t write this memoire without briefly discussing the joys of the numerous other characters who comprised the weave and fabric of the Castle in those joyous evenings back in the mid-seventies. It was always a pleasure to spend an hour in the Owl Bar drinking and listening to the deliciously barbed and acerbic comments of John Schrum. John was the art designer from the Tonight Show and could seemingly drink endlessly throughout the evening without ever appearing one iota inebriated. Perhaps you would spend time sitting at the main bar in the company of the incomparable Ron Wilson as he sat steadily sipping on glasses of scotch diluted with milk, while he shared his endless magical wisdom.

I always enjoyed joining Billy McComb, who would often be sitting at the Main Bar puffing away on his pipe, spinning a complicated yarn and performing one of his innumerable “Packet Tricks.” Billy was one of the many Irishmen who could consistently prove that it was speech and not silence that was golden. In the Hat & Hare Pub, Jules Lenier would amaze and amuse in the most maximum manner utilizing the most minimal of props. Later on as night advanced into morning, Jules could often be found telling tall tales of his early days in New York spent writing comedy with the likes of the great Jackie Mason.

In the Close Up Gallery or dining room Albert Goshman would often be found in a crumpled and greasy tuxedo working his wonders with coins and a saltcellar for astounded audiences. Perhaps later in the evening you could talk Tony Giorgio into reciting items from his repertoire of intriguing and authentic grifter poetry. Some nights you might even get to spend a few minutes chatting with Charlie Miller as he rushed around the Castle. Charlie, unlike most magicians, always seemed to be in a hurry as he passed through the Castle.

So many wonderful memories, with new ones being created nightly, no wonder the Castle was, and still is such a unique and beloved institution.

“As I sat in front of the Magic Castle on that 50th anniversary, I listened to the speeches mingling with the sound of the elaborate fountain directly behind us, and all these precious memories paraded through my mind as an entire separate panorama of reminisces and events. Are my memories bathed in a rosy glow of nostalgia? You bet they are. As I write this short memoir I am saddened to realize that everyone I have written about in this story, other than Milt Larsen, is no longer with us. Milt remains strategically center stage, as the ringmaster who created the ultimate magic circus and is unquestionably the man without whom the Magic Castle would have remained but a wistful dream.

 These particular memories are just joyous fragments and shadows of the past that I wanted to share with those who didn’t have the good fortune to be there in those golden years. Fortunately 40 years later the Magic Castle remains firmly in place creating fresh and vivid memories for entire new generations. The club is now more commercial, better run, and more successful than ever before and looks set to entrance magicians and their guests for another 50 years. The Castle has an indomitable life of its own, based squarely on the shoulders of the individuals who have brought it to life over the years. For me though I will always love it best in those earlier years when I was young.”

I  strongly encourage you to read Ron Wilson’s outstanding book “Tales from The Uncanny Scot,” which is an essential resource for anyone who truly wishes to understand the roots of the Magic Castle. There are still a few copies of this limited edition book available at


~ by Nick Lewin on June 22, 2017.

4 Responses to “Magic Castle Revisited. Part Six.”

  1. Nicki,It’s nice to see the photos I  gave you back

  2. One time, many years ago, J and I were sitting downstairs at the Castle and J was chatting with the man next to him. J kept laughing and eventually leaned over to me after a few minutes and said, “I like this man next to me” It was Billy McComb.

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful stories!

  3. Billy was truly wonderful company!

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