It has now been a little more than two years since one of the most important personalities in magic has left us! She had no enemies in her magic life. Her love for magic saw no equals and she had the passion for the art!
Born September 15th, 1936 in Steuhlingen, Germany she was raised in that country and Austria and as a little girl. She and her family survived the bombings and shootings in the war. She came to America and worked with John Daniels in his illusion show! Her magic life was fantastic as she truly loved that “Art of Magic” right up to the end of her life!
Her and Siegfried had much in common as they both loved magic from an early age, as they were children in Germany at that time of the war. (They were very close) Where and how did the name, “Princess” come from?
As I remember it was Dai Vernon who coined the name for her and his eyes always lit up when she walked into the Magic Castel for the evening! Irene also looked after Dai Vernon and made sure he had food in his ice box and did his laundry also and in his older age, she always made sure he looked good.
She had grace! She had class. And she was friendly to everyone! She had no strangers in the Castle. It was a great marriage between her and Bill Larsen! One complimented the other. One could go on and on with stories about her wit and stamina.
There are two stories that I will always remember of our relationship. The first one came from Jim Steinmeyer who wrote about her in the Genii magazine as a tribute to her. I told Jim that this story certainly capsules her personality and love.
One night at the Castle, there was a magician who was working the Castle for the first time and who was, of course, nervous and excited about it as well. He saw Irene coming up to him and did not offer a word to her. He was a card magician and a good one as well, or he wouldn’t be working the Castle that night in the close up room.
As she walked up to him, she asked: “What type of magic do you do?” He was embarrassed to say, ”I am a card magician,” but she exclaimed immediately, “I just love magic card tricks.” Needless to say he was humbled upon hearing this and the beauty of it was she was most sincere as well!
One of many other stories is this one; Jay Marshall and I were very, very close for many years and I was with Jay one time up in Siegfried and Roy’s dressing one evening and Jay, (who was always a flirt with the ladies – in those days) would always cozy up to Irene and put his arms around her and get one of those special Irene Larsen’s warm kisses. His eyes would light up and you could tell that he was in heaven. I saw this many times, and when Jay passed away a few years ago and when I had the opportunity to see Irene from time to time….I would go up to her as Jay did…hug her and give her a kiss and say; “This kiss is for Jay, and this second kiss is for me”! She always laughed and smiled about it!
There are many instrumental and talented women in the magic world, but there was only one Irene Larsen! She had class and love of magic and magicians!
She will always be the number one Princess to me! Thanks Dai Vernon for coining that name for her.
P.S. Irene was the first lady to perform in the new illusion; “Thin model Sawing.”
Copyrighted Image: Used with permission.