Personally Speaking – Nov06 – Part 5

Enjoy the article penned by Bill Palmer that first appeared in this year’s TAOM program! Very interesting history and you will learn something…


By Bill Palmer

“It has often been said that we follow in the footsteps of others.

Little Jimmy sat in an audience at a theater in Indiana, watching, totally enraptured, as a suave, debonair gentleman bounced a spit wad up and down on a Spanish lace fan to the strains of Japanese Sandman. As the moist piece of paper bounced up and down on that fan, it grew and grew until it became an egg. The gentleman on stage broke the egg into a glass, and the audience leapt to its feet! The gentleman in question was Tommy Martin, who later retired to Houston . But the little boy had been bitten and thoroughly infected by the magic bug. That show was to change the history of magic, as we know it.

Jimmy’s folks moved to Dallas, where he met Ed Watkins and some other local kids who had also been bitten by the bug. He got a weekend job working behind the counter of Douglas Magicland-the magic Mecca of Texas . He later attended S.M.U., where he became a cheerleader and got a business degree. He talked Frito-Lay into sending him around to parties, where he entertained the kids as the “Frito-Lay Magician.” And he changed his name from Jimmy Wilson, to Mark Wilson. And now, you know the rest of the story…..or do you?

Mark realized that television was the place to spread the interest in magic. None of the stations wanted to put magic into their lineups. Mark worked for two years to get a sponsor to put him on television in Texas . He succeeded in getting sponsors for a 3-pronged Texas route. His ratings were at the tops of his time slots.

He did the same thing a few years later when he got sponsors to put him into major networks, doing even bigger illusions than he did on his Texas shows. Each time he went into a new market like this, he did two years of relentless pavement-pounding, phone-calling and letter-writing to convince sponsors that he could sell their cereals, cheese or burgers to an audience on television.

Once he had the sponsors, and was firmly established in television, he became the number one magic consultant for the networks. His illusions and guidance were featured on The Magician, Charlie’s Angels and a host of other television shows.

And Mark did not stop with Los Angeles . When China re-established relations with the U.S. , Mark’s show was the first non-athletic and non-musical group that was allowed to entertain the people of China .

His perseverance paid off in many ways. Until the last Copperfield special, Mark may have still held the record as the magician who had entertained more people via television than anyone else in the world. And even if Copperfield has surpassed Mark’s numbers, which may or may not be the case, there would have been no Doug Henning specials or Copperfield specials, because Mark paved the way.

In conclusion, Martha, Mark and myself extend warm blessings to all of you for the holiday season and we thank you for your business, trust and friendship for all of these years and may the new year bring you good health and happiness! And may “Maja” (Goddess Of Magic) grant you all of your magical wishes!

We miss you Jay; “See ya down the road!”

Joe Stevens