by Joel Ray
Lee Grabel began his touring illusion show after World War II. Mr. Grabel established himself as an astute businessman and an extremely accomplished performer, and the show toured from coast to coast with extraordinary success. In 1954, Dante chose Grabel as his successor, continuing a "lineage" which went back to Alexander Herrmann. Mr. Grabel retired in 1959, but briefly brought the show out of retirement in 1977. In 1995 he was awarded the Masters Fellowship by the Academy of Magical Arts and Sciences, and has recently made several convention appearances.
Joel Ray has brought together several of Mr. Grabel's friends and colleagues to reminisce about him, his influence, and the illusions he made famous. Guests include Channing Pollock, Lance Burton, Moi-Yo Miller, Andre Kole, Ormond McGill (author of The Magic and Illusions of Lee Grabel), Helene Grabel, and Mr. Grabel himself. There is rare footage of several of Grabel's most famous illusions, including the Vanishing Horse, the Floating Piano, and one of Lee's signature pieces, the Thumb Tie. (There is a bit at the end of this routine using a folding metal chair which sent me racing to the McGill book to find out the work. It isn't in there.) In addition, you will see footage of Lee passing the
"mantle" to Lance Burton, and 1995 awards banquet where he received the Masters Fellowship.
I enjoyed this tape very much, and if you have an interest in this area, I think you'll enjoy it also. Be aware that because of the wide variety of video sources, the quality of the video varies considerably. Some of the video is not very good at all, but you'll be able to follow what's going on. At the very end of the tape, Joel Ray mentions that a second video is in the works. I'll be looking forward to it. Recommended.
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