IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO...
Johnny won the prestigious IBM Star of Magic Award
(PHOTO ABOVE) Irving M. Lewis, International President of the IBM, presents Johnny with the "Star of Magic" Award, a high IBM accolade, recognizing "his great contributions to the art of magic", on January 25, 1963. (Photo courtesy Joseph Giordmaine) The Toronto Daily Star wrote about Johnny and his award on February 7th, 1963. (BELOW) When is the last time a major paper covered such a story?
MANY TRICKS UP SLEEVE OF JOHNNY "LEPRECAUN"
by Ralph Thomas
"Here, let me hang up your coat" offered the elf-like man as he extracted a giant coathanger from a change purse. This is the sort of thing Johnny Giordmaine, magician extraordinaire, might do anywhere; but at the door of his mechanically rigged North Toronmto bungalow, it's almost routine.
Touted by his fellow-practitioners as the greatest Canadian magician, Giordmaine recently won the coveted Star of Magic award from the New York Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. The bronze plaque carries the inscription: "For his great contribution to the art of magic".
The "contribution" were the many tricks he had devised while brooding over his art in his basement den, which is cluttered with everything from chicks (dozens of them), plaster of paris pigeons and rabbits, golf balls, hankerchiefs and so on. He can't price the amount of equipment he has in the room.
Philip is Fan
As a performer, he was highly admired by the late Mackenzie King and today has Prince Philip as one of hs fans. He is also a full member of the Inner Circle of the Magic Circle of London, about as high as one can get socially in the world of magicians.
Born into an impoverished family of 12, Giordmaine came to Canada from Malta in 1919 to become an electrician for 10 years with a meat packing firm. On the side he played in two light symphony orchestras. [In] one [he] play[ed] flute and piano and entertained with sleight of hand during the intermissions. Audiences loved it; conductors didn't and one finally told him he was a better magician than musician and to get out.
He did and got a job as a demonstrator-salesman at the Magic Store in the old Yonge Street Arcade. In 1930 he joined Eaton's and set up its Magic Counter in the toy department. There he stayed, taking occasional trips to entertain, until three years ago, when he retired.
Worked on TV
Now the small (he's under five feet) "leprechaun" (Ed Sullivan's name for him) keeps busy working at social functions, children's parties, television. He has appeared on Ed Sullivan at $500 for 90 seconds and on "Captain Kangaroo" nine times, not to mention a host of Canadian shows. He's also a regular at magician's conventions, which is about the only place most modern day magicians get a chance to show off their talent.
Next up - our December 2014 update. Where has the time gone? It's as if it had just... disappeared!
-John Pellatt, Curator/Webmaster