Al Goshman – Definitely a MAGIC LEGEND!
I don’t pass the word, “LEGEND,” around easily when it comes to talking about magicians from the past! But Al Goshman, for sure, can be called one!
For years, I was impressed with stories of him and his fabulous, creative close-up performance! When I finally saw Al work back in the early 80’s, I saw why accolades were passed on to him! He was always comfortable around other magicians and especially the paying public! Before his death, he became a magic icon. Not only was he colorful, many who knew him said, “Al is a piece of work”!
Al was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Dec. 6th, 1920, and had a variety of jobs. He only dabbled in magic, but when he was older, but he also had a hobby of photography. Early on, his family was in the baking business! He assumed the management of one of the family bakeries but, after a few years, the business went into a decline. He sold insurance for a while, but that was not his pleasure! He went into selling ice cream as a “Good humor Man.” Then he went door to door selling his specialty as a portrait photographer, until his equipment was stolen.
Then, as many of us do… he turned to his hobby of magic, especially close up magic. Alas, magic became his passion and full time work. He billed himself as, “THE BAKER THAT’S A FAKER.”
Al grew up in New York, but at the right time, moved to the West Coast. in Hollywood, where the MAGIC CASTLE had just opened up. Al also went on magic lecture tours around the country. He traveled by himself from city to city for several years. But the Castle became his home and he loved performing there and the Larsen’s really enjoyed him as well. His routines were creative and unusual and his routine with Salt Shakers and a fifty cent piece was a classic in his hands! The fifty cent piece kept vanishing from the shaker and reappearing as well.
I always enjoyed Al, as in his later years we became good friends. There are two personal comments of our relationship that I especially cherish. Dai Vernon told me that before Al got into magic full time, and he was still a baker in New York, he would leave the bakery at quitting time, and run over to Vernon’s apartment, wearing his white baker’s apron with his magic pouch to discuss magic with Vernon. However, baking flour was all over his apron that he would not take off, which upset Vernon’s wife as the flour got all over her place!
The other personal story I cherish is this: At one of our DESERT MAGIC SEMINARS, I was up front at the hotel and saw Al come in and went over to him to welcome him to the event. He was checking in and told me that the traffic in Vegas was just terrible and it took him so long for his bus ride from the airport to get to the hotel, etc. I had always heard that Al, who ended up as a Millionaire, always took buses from airports all over the world to get to the hotel’s events. It was always noted that Al would NOT pay the high taxi or limo rates. Yes, he was frugal, but that’s why he was a millionaire. I was always curious as to why he did this….but that was Al and who is to question?
What made him a millionaire? Well, he gave the magic world one of the greatest creations possible. Al created the SPONGE BALLS for close up magic. He manufactured them and sold them wherever he went. (And his son Steve Goshman is still carrying on the business years after Al’s passing). Al passed away Feb. 12th 1991 – at 70 years in Las Angeles, California
Al, we miss you — but they cannot take memories away from those of us who knew you.