I have very fond memories of Warren… He was a great soul that truly worked from the heart. His passion for the art along with his creative abilities drove him to be one of the most prolific creators of magic in my generation. We need more Warren’s in the world, but then again, that’s why he was so special – he was unique. – Joe Stevens
By Phil Willmarth
Warren Stephens, who died April 4, 2006, was a friend for over 50 years. We attended Abbott’s and Fechter’s Close-Up Conventions annually. For many years, the late Peter Tappan and I would fly from Chicago to Detroit where Warren would pick us up and drive across Canada talking magic all the way. Peter and I were reasonably creative, but Warren was a magical genius and, as a long-time school teacher (history, geography and driving instruction), was used to long explanations. It was always fun and we shared
(and learned) a lot.
While born in Lansing, Michigan, Warren spent his teens in Butzbach, Germany where his adoptive father was stationed. Warren became fluent in German and joined the army in 1949 at age 18. He was also stationed in Butzbach where, according to his own accounts, his service was considerably more disciplined than his youth.
Following discharge in 1952, Warren attended Michigan State University graduating with a bachelor’s degree. While still in college, he married Alice. He and Alice bought an old farmhouse in Roseville, Michigan, which Warren extensively remodeled. Their lovely home is filled with antiques – typically, Warren became an expert on and dealer in antiques, many of which he picked up in Canada. He built a workshop behind the house where he worked out and constructed almost all of his marketed magic. He persisted in this, even when he could not keep up with the demand and when he had a stockpile of unmarketed items, because he enjoyed the work and because he wanted to be sure his tricks were made to his standards.
Photo in Warren’s Shop – Taken by Michael Mode
Warren loved teaching and he loved children – good thing, because the couple had eight children of whom Warren was very proud (a number of them hold advanced degrees). Due to his constant exposure to children in his day job, Warren’s magic focused on effects for children, but he was well versed in magic of all types and developed routines for close-up, parlor and stage. He loved jokes and wordplay (especially puns) and was a solid MC as well as stage, close-up performer and lecturer.
Warren was introduced to magic at age ten when his grandfather took him to a party where a magician performed. Not having any magicians around, Warren began inventing his own tricks (he came up with “Splendo” at age twelve). He continued thinking about, and creating magic until virtually his last breath. He produced a number of different lecture notes and at least one video tape. With the blessing of Warren’s wife, and family, Tim Sonefelt has produced several of Warren’s tricks and is hard at work on a book of his magic. He has done two lectures on Warren’s magic at the Kidabra Convention.
2nd Photo of Warren Stephens in his workshop – photographed by Michael Mode.
Warren was featured on the covers of M-U-M, The New Tops, The Linking Ring
(March 2003), and the Kidabra Journal
. In addition to over 100 marketed effects, his tricks have appeared in virtually every English language magazine, half a dozen books, and he has lectured and performed in Canada, England, Germany, Holland, and a number of U.S. locations/conventions.
Warren will be missed by his family and many friends and magicians. Fortunately, he has insured that his magic will live forever.