Milton Kort (1917-2003)
Magic scholar and master hobbyist, Milton Kort, died of pneumonia on Friday, August 1, 2003 at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.
He was eighty-five, had lived in Birmingham, Michigan, and is survived by his wife, Reva, and his two ex-puppeteer daughters, Sandra Kort, owner of E-GADS (graphic arts studio) and Janice Borgne, a professional in commercial crafts and décor. Janice and her husband, Kerry, provided Milt and Reva with a granddaughter, Lori Johnson, who, in turn, provided them with a great-grandson, Timmy. Lori also has two stepsons, Nick and Zack, by her husband, Chris.
The funeral was held on Sunday, August 3rd, at the Ira Kaufman Chapel, in Southfield, with burial in Machpelah Cemetery in Ferndale. Pallbearers were: Kerry Borgne, Chris Johnson, Ron Bauer, Dave Hertzberg, James Kelly, Bob Longe, James Ungewitter, Jim Bergstrom, and Timmy Johnson.
Up until just a month or so ago, Milt and Sandra would venture out to Lake Orion every Monday night to join “the gang” who meet at the Orion House for informal magic and great food. Milt’s favorites were the ribs or Steak Diane, which he’d split with Sandra. “Gotta watch that weight, you know.”
“He loved magic, and considered it the most worthwhile of all hobbies. He was always eager to spend time with other magicians, but, because it would take him away from his family, didn’t travel much. He was always typing out letters and making photocopies of reference material for friends all over the world. Most of his face-to-face contacts with other magicians were with those who came to Detroit or already lived here,” commented Sandra about her father. And, true as this is, it understates the amount of activity and number of magic contacts Milt enjoyed throughout his life.
While still a schoolboy, working part time in his dad’s grocery store, he discovered something new and exciting happening in Detroit, a magic shop was about to be opened by Harold Sterling. Who was the first customer, and soon the chief demonstrator? None other than the cocky kid with the Fedora perched on the back of his head, the lightning fast hands, and the “walking magic catalog,” Milton Kort, or, as he liked to be called: KORT.
Sterling Magic drew a wide variety of magicians passing through Detroit, and they all got to know and like Kort, who, at that time, had just begun to specialize in challenge-type card tricks. This list is long, and the names are a who's who of magic in the forties. So, if you're interested, look up more about his early life in Kort by Stephen Minch.
Kort left Sterling’s to join the army in World War II, and, while serving as a supply sergeant, became the base’s own John Scarne by putting on several demonstrations and lectures on how to avoid getting cheated at cards and dice. He even got his picture in the Army News several times. While in the army, Harold Sterling surprised Milt by naming his new, hot pocket trick (the one with the die and the Three-and-a-half of Clubs) after him... MIKO.
Because of illness, Kort was given an early honorable discharge, and returned to Detroit to begin his professional education in pharmacy at Lawrence Technological University. In the late 1950s, he opened Kort’s Drugs on Detroit’s West side, and ran it until the mid-l960s, when the placement of freeway exits diverted customers from his store. He remained true to his vocation, though, by working at Kale’s Professional Pharmacy in Detroit’s Sinai Hospital until retiring in the late 1980s.
As far as his avocation, that of devoted magic hobbyist, he somehow did that, too. He found the time to write two books, Kort is Now in Session and Off-Color Card Tricks, and provide the material for another, The Magic of Milt Kort, contributed to almost every magic periodical in print over the past fifty years, provided the majority of the reference material for Potter’s Bar and both editions of Modern Coin Magic, was a magic clown with Mr. Trix Enterprises, mentored the young magicians of the Tel-Twelve Mystics every week for almost a decade, and completely read everything in his extensive library of current and antiquarian books and periodicals except one tiny tome, which he refused to finish. Which one? Kort took that little secret with him.
During that time, he also squeezed in a trip to England and another to California for “family outings” and to give a few magic lectures!
A special commemoration with Broken Wand Ceremony is scheduled for Kort at the Elks Hall in Troy, Michigan on October 19th. An informal dinner and souvenir program will be provided to attendees.
RB, Milt Kort, and Stephen Minch
“He also made it as a magician - not just another one, but as one of the finest in his field. He certainly ranks among the top 10 manipulative men in the country, possibly among the first five. Ask the experts what Kort can do, ask Vernon or Eddie Marlo or Neal Elias or Bill Simon. He is a miracle man, honest to boot he is.”
Interview with "KORT"
Conducted on MagicBunny.co.uk, April 2003.
Mike: It is with great pleasure, pomp and circumstance that I welcome our guest speaker for this month, Milt Kort. The only thing that separates this man from the giants that we all know, like Dai Vernon et. al. is the fact that Kort is a quiet giant of the industry. However, anyone who's paid attention over the years will instantly recognize the name.
Mr. Kort's biography is up in the library, so he needs very little introduction here. Just quickly, Kort has contributed to most of the trade magazines of the 20th century and his name can be found liberally scattered throughout the entirety of Bobo's Modern Coin Magic. Aside from that, Kort has three books published, one by Stephen Minch in particular is reviewed in our reviews forum.
This, just as with the Ron Bauer guest spot, is a Magic Bunny exclusive. As such, I'd like to say a special thank you to Mr. Kort for joining us for the week. It is a great priveledge and honor to have you with us this week, sir.
Also, a special thank you to Ron Bauer who encouraged Kort to do this and to Sandra Kort (Milt's daughter, just in case you couldn't figure that out) for taking the time to be Kort's secretary for this week - she'll be doing the typing!
So, the forum is open, let the questions begin...
Admin: I'd like to add my thanks to Milt for taking time off his busy schedule and visiting these forums. I know that our members and myself are going to gain a great deal from this visit.
Thank you so much Milt.
Mike: Considering all of the things that you've done or contributed to over the years, what do you feel is your greatest achievement in the magic industry and what particular contribution do you hold most dear?
Kort: Well, Michael,
I’d have to say that I’m very pleased that I’ve been able help kids and adults alike learn magic, the greatest hobby in the world!
As far as achievement, I would say that would be lecturing at the Magic Circle in the late 1960’s and being told that I drew the largest attendance up to that time for a guest lecturer.
Mike: One of my favorite stories of you, Kort, is the one about the free ring with every purchase at Sterling's shop. Would you care to share your favorite practical joke with us?
Kort: Hey, Michael,
You might be interested in these…
In 1946 I was able to attend the Abbott’s convention in Michigan and we found out that Ed Marlo was going to be there. And, as Ed Marlo had never gone to an Abbott’s get together, this was a big event. So, Stewart James, Stewart’s cousin, myself, and a couple others decided to play a joke on Ed. We arranged between ourselves and other magicians that I was going to be the card star, as Ed had never seen me work. I was going to perform the greatest card tricks in the world, physically selected cards or mentally selected cards and no matter what card I turned over it was going to be the selected card (even though it wasn’t). Picture this, a ring of magicians and I was in the center. We were doing every day tricks. Someone said, Marlo’s here. He was standing in the rear of the outer ring. And then I started in. We did things such as this… I would ask for the loan of a normal deck, and I’d have someone think of a number and then ask him to look from the face of the deck or the back of the deck… count down to that number and remember the card at that position.. He would do this. And I would tell him to reshuffle the deck and to give it back to me. Then I would shuffle the deck myself and the first time I would ask for the number he thought of. When it was given to me I would count down very openly to that number and I would say “There Sir is your card!” This would be met by gasps of astonishments and words that can’t be used. We went on like this, for instance, I would ask someone to take the deck and allow someone else to select the card. He would then hand the deck to someone else and the person who selected the card would insert it into the deck. He would hand the deck to someone else to shuffle. Then I would take the deck back. I did not shuffle it. I would just riffle the end and say stop. I would pick up the top half and show the bottom card and say there sir, is that your card? Every time I would do this Marlo would work his way closer to the inner circle until he got to the very front. At that point I took the deck and said, “That’s it, fellows.. Whose deck?” I retruned the deck. I started to go and Marlo said “That’s nice work.” And I said “Thank you, Sir” and walked away.
Later on Marlo invited Stewart James and myself and Stewart’s cousin to his cottage. Marlo sat down and started doing the latest thing, riffle shuffle controls. For about half hour he sat there and I was trying to not let the green glow too much I was so jealous of what he was doing. Then finally he stopped and pushed the cards away from the table and leaned back in his chair and looked at me. I looked at him and I said, “Is that all?” Stewart though Ed was going to jump over the table and kill me!
Here’s another amusing thing that happened at that convention.. We approached a group of people. Stewart James said, “that’s Ross Bertram, you wanted to meet him.” I walked up to him and said, “Mr. Bertram, would you do me a trick?” He looked at me and smiled and said “later.” Every time I saw him, I would ask the same question and always the same answer, “later.” Comes the end of the convention and we were saying good bye to every body and Ross looked at me and said “Kort, how about doing a trick for me?” And I smiled nicely and said “later” and turned around and walked away, leaving his cohorts laughing.
Kevin: Who inspired you and your magic?
Kort: Hi Kevin,
I wouldn’t say he inspired me, but when I was eight years old, there was a magician appearing at a neighborhood theater during the intermission. I can’t remember his name… I was with my older cousin and when we walked out of the theater and when we got home, my cousin picked up a playing card and showed both sides and apparently threw it in the air and I looked at his empty hand and I thought this was great. He was doing a back palm which I think is a funny term because there is no palm on the back of your hand. I practiced that move for years. Years later, I got a call from Jimmy Martin, the owner of a local magic shop. “Cardini would like to meet you.” I went down to Jimmy’s shop and had a session and found out that he’d heard about my coin work and wanted me to show him some coin things which I was very happy to do. After seeing his card act, I was so impressed by seeing the back palm done as it should be done that I gave it up.
To conclude, as far as inspiring me, no one actually inspired me. I just saw a magician and got started..
Mister Toad: You may know of the hot air balloon game:
Ten different people are caught in a sinking hot air balloon travelling over the ocean and then the balloon starts to sink towards the sea. One-by-one each person has to explain why he/she should remain and then, after they have all spoken, one of them is thrown out, in order to save the others.
What would you say, as a magician, to defend your place in the balloon? Why should a magician remain in the balloon?
Kort: Hi Mister Toad,
I promise to never do another card trick for you guys as long as I live… No… Wait a minute… Forget that “long as I live part” – It might give you ideas. I just promise not to show you any more card tricks!
Magic Sam X: If you had the chance to go back and do anything in your Magic Life differently what would you choose (if any) and why?
Kort: Hi SamX,
I would have taken a sabbatical in my younger days and found a cure for arthritis!
Mike: I was sorry to hear that you were not feeling well, last night, Kort. So, here is a "Get Well Soon" post . I hope that you make a quick recovery.
Andy D: Here, here!!
We wish you a speedy recovery.
Sean: Same here, get well soon!
Gary Scott: Yes , get well soon and spread your wisdom to
Kevin: Get well soon mate, and no pressure in answering our questions, wait till your well!
Admin: I am so very sorry to hear that you have been unwell recently. I'd like to thank you for your interest in this site and I wish you a very speedy recovery.
Wallace: May I wish you a quick recovery, Milt. There aren't many really 'mature' folk left so may I, as another 'mature' person, wish you well but do, please, take it easy!
Welshwizard: Get well soon.
Rich: Here's to a speedy recovery Mr. Kort, get better soon.
Huw: And so say all of us! Take it easy and get yourself good and well!
Damien: All the best.
Midge 25: All the best, get well soon.
Lucien De Silva: Hello Milt,
Sorry to hear that you're not too well. I wish you a full and fast recovery.
Very best wishes.
Michael Saint Louis: Dear Sir-
Thank you and good health.
Nissassa: Thanks for your time and wisdom you have freely given the bunnie already,rest easy and get well soon sir.
Damien: Hi Mr Kort,
Many feel that books are so much more beneficial to the buyer, as the techniques/effects can be made 'your own'.
Also that videos and DVDs provoke the watcher into completely copying the style of the teacher.
Well that’s the basis of my query, over to you
What are your thoughts on this? I always think something is easier to do when shown physically, I personally find it hard to learn from books. But copying style is sometimes inevitable in my eyes but if overcome I see videos as more useful. Well that’s just my personal opinion, what about yours?
Kort: Hi Damien,
Personally I prefer books as teaching materials. I have built up a library of magic books and magazines and videotapes and I find that to really learn something I prefer a book. A book can be held and turned back a page.. Videotapes have to be rewound. Several people told me years ago that they do not like to use books because they do not stay open. I find that if you take a sheet of clear clean glass and open the book and place the glass on the book it will stay open and you can see the book and it will keep the food and pizza that you’re eating while practicing off the book. And, as you mention when you watch the videotapes, subconsciously you are learning the same body language as the performer.. When you are watching Slidini on tape he has graceful, fluid movements when he is explaining something… To watch a 250 lb man who has seen a Slidini tape attempt to do some of the tricks Slidini is teaching is a hilarious sight.
If you have to study a picture, you can just look at the book. If you’re using a videotape, you have to put the tape on pause and start and pause, rewind… it’s not worth it. The books are by far are the best. Of course there is a knack for learning something from a book. Practically 90 % of what I do I learned from books.
For practicing, however, video can be a good thing. Practice in front of the camera and play back the tape just to see what YOU look like while doing the trick.
By the way, I recommend Ron Bauer’s Private Studies Series, a series of books that I wish had come out years ago, so that I could have had the advantage of the theatrical presentations and the insiders knowledge of how to handle a trick.
Damien: Yeah that seems a very justified opinion, thanks.
I'm sure in time I will adapt to learning from books, which I want.
Keith Stickley: Hey Kort!
Greetings from your good friend on the left coast. I know in your book (btw - Sandra, nice hand illustrations! What nifty young lad got to pose for some of those hehe) and at the Roundtable you have mentioned briefly of what I believed you said at one time was one of your fondest moments in magic 1968. The Scottish Conjurors Association held a party for you on a three masted ship. Can you tell us more and elaborate on the events of that evening?
I hope your feeling a bit better, and I look forward to seeing you this summer!
Kort: Hi Keith,
You brought up the good time I had on the retired navy ship while I lectured in Scotland through the courtesy of Roy Walton. The way they went out of their way to do things for my by throwing this party – it was as if I were royalty! The actual lecture was at the Royal Hospital at Glasgow in the operating theater. It was quite a feeling. I was sitting at a table and 2 chairs, the rest was tiered sections. A funny thing hit me when I was there. I looked out the window of the lobby and saw a cemetery. Imagine the way you would feel if you were a patient in the hospital and looked out the window and saw a cemetery! Then, later in the day we went to the ship. They had a large room where four tables were set up with a close up worker at each table. There was a lot of magic going on that evening.. It was one of the high points of my life. I never thought I would have an honor like that.
Jim Riser: Mr. Kort;
What I have always liked about your routines is the simple nature of the effects. They are elegant in their simplicity. Anyone in the audience can easily understand what is going on and appreciate the magic. Your routines are extremely workable, well thought out, and excellent examples of what good magic can be.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for sharing your many routines over the years. Whenever I get a new collection of routines with a "Kort" effect, I jump to it first because I know I will like it. They have been inspirations for many of us.
Many thanks for the kind things you said about my magic. I purposely try to make things very simple, and, very entertaining.
Sean: What do you think about your fame in the magic world? What do you feel when you realize you are a role model for so many people and what do you feel when you see your names in magic books, magic books which magicians all over the world read.
Is it all water off a ducks back, or are you blown away by it?
Kort: Hi Sean,
I don’t consider that I’m famous. As a young fellow, I used to read all the magic books I could get my hands on, so I bought books for the knowledge I could gain from them. Then, as time went on, the more I read, the more I learned. Then we have the kind of people who find it difficult to learn from a book and they asked me questions and I would do my best to help them out. Then it got to be, from what I heard, when someone was stuck with something they’d be told, ask Kort and he’ll either know of be able to find out.
Things would come up, for example Stephen Minch (Hermetic Press) asked Ron Bauer about some credits and Ron said contact Milt Kort and he’ll find out for you. That’s how my friendship with Stephen began. People would contact Stephen about something and he would have them contact me. Paul Curry wanted to find out some things about various versions of his trick, Out of this World and he contacted Del Cartier in New York and Del said to contact Kort (I found all the variations he wanted and shipped them out to him. I got a nice thank you note from him.) Then, the biggest assistance I gave was to Jack Potter for Potter’s Bar over the years – looking up things for him.
I don’t consider it fame. I read a lot, and retained the knowledge and had a lot of fun in passing it along. At times I thought that there are people who can’t get enough of seeing their names in print. I could have put all my coin work in a book by myself but, I thought it much better to have it in the Bobo book which is a book that will live forever and it looks like I made the right choice.
Dave (Pennjarr): Mr Kort
Over the years you have worked with and seen most of the greats, I wonder who of the current crop of magicians and mentalists you would go out of your way to watch, for pleasure?
Kort: Hi Dave,
As far as going to see someone in person, I’d have to say it’s always a treat to watch Ron Bauer perform. When I’m up to it, I go to a weekly magic meeting at the Orion House restaurant where he often performs for the magic students, but I especially like to watch him perform for the children who invariably will come up to see if he’ll do a magic trick for them.
As far as any up and coming magicians, I’m afraid I can’t comment because I really haven’t seen many as I am pretty much house bound.
Mister Toad: I've heard it said that magicians are their own worst enemies. Our love of secrecy hampers the development of many up and coming youngsters but when a magician successfully markets his skills and creates an upsurge of interest in magic, there is condemnation too?
Where do you see a middle ground, if any?
Kort: Hi Mr. Toad,
Magicians are their own worst enemies because 90% of the time they don’t practice or when they do practice they practice wrong, therefore, becoming exposers of magic.
Paul Chosse: Hi Milt! Gee, it's been a while! I'm glad to see you carrying on as usual, spreading the word, and giving the magic world the benefit of your experience. How about some drugstore stories - I've heard a few that just killed me! Also, I understand that you were part of a performance troupe in Michigan called Mr. Trix - what was that all about? By the way, you are mostly known for coin magic, but the fact is you are really great with a deck of cards - how about an unpublished card trick for the guys? I know you've got one, at least, up your sleeve! By the way, one of my treasured books is a copy of Bobo that you were kind enough to inscribe for me - thanks for the memories.
Kort: Hi there, Paul,
Mr. Trix was a successful children’s entertainment company complete with magicians, clowns, and puppeteers, in the late 1960’s. It was started by Ron Bauer. Check out his interview which is posted at the "Guests" link for more information. Since I was working as a full time pharmacist I wasn’t able to be as actively involved in Mr. Trix as I would have wished.. However, I did have the opportunity to become one of the Mr.Trix clowns for a brief period. I was the character Professor B’loon (there’s a photo of me in costume in my book The Magic of Milt Kort published by Hermetic Press). Ron designed the character and wrote the act and I needed only to make one balloon animal in the entire 30 minute act!
I’ll try and locate an unpublished card trick for you.
Magic Mike: Hi Milt what would be your best advice to an
amatuer magician like myself?
Kort: Magic Mike,
It’s pretty rough to write out advice to someone.. It’s easier face to face (or one on one)… Study up on the history of our art. There is more to magic than just doing tricks. Learn the background.. Go see as many magician’s work as you can and that way you’ll not only learn things you should do, you’ll learn things you shouldn’t do, too. Ignore all the nice things you read about other magicians. They could be written by their friends who wouldn’t dream of hurting them. For instance, I’m reminded of the group of magicians sitting around in a convention and they were discussing Cardini . A fellow approached and said don’t believe everything you hear about this Cardini guy, everybody praises him and I wouldn’t waste my time going to see him. One of the fellows said when did you see him? He answered I never saw him. I saw someone imitate him and it was terrible. Read as many books and magazines that you can that pertain to the art of magic. As time goes on you will be able to differentiate the good ones from the bad ones.
Drew: Milt Kort,
The following is a quote from an interview we held with Simon Lovell:
Would you, Milt Kort, agree that you are a magician of the yesteryear?
What do you think of being put into the same category as Vernon, Marlo and Jennings?
Who do you think are the up and coming creative minds of magic?
Keith Strickley: *giggle - giggle*
Don't get Kort started on Jennings!
You know I am just ribbing you buddy. Hope you're feeling OK!
I guess I would be a magician of the yesteryear as I’m sure not an up and coming young magician! As far as the love of magic is concerned, I like to be put in the same class as Vernon, Marlo, and, Charlie Miller.
As far as the up and coming creative minds of magic…Frankly, I haven’t seen much in the new magicians that seems that creative. Primarily I’m a close up man, and as I don’t get out much any more, I see most performers on the television and there really aren’t any close-up workers who have television specials.
Kevin: Surely this was a life changing experience, or at the least a moment you would remember forever. What was it like meeting one of the most acclaimed manipulators of our century?
The same could have been asked of Cardini in regards to Kort...what was it like to meet one of the most acclaimed close-up magicians of any century!!!!!
Kevin: It's a shame Cardini isn't around to answer the question though.
Either way - I enjoyed your visit to the board Milt.
Chris Johnson: I must say I was excited to hear that there was a forum online doing a Q&A with Milt Kort. I have had the great pleasure of meeting Milt in person and spending a little bit of (never enough) time with him. Milt is such a wealth of knowledge and I marvel at how fast he can tell you any piece of magic history. He will forget more then I will ever know
If I may...
If you have not had the chance to read Milts most recent book, simply Titled "Kort", I highly recommend it. The antic dotes and stories alone are worth the cost of admission. The magic explained is all top notch and is written in such a way that anyone will understand and learn without having to wonder what they just read. We have all read some effects on occasion that we needed an interpreter to understand it
I guess its time for me to get mine back out and reread it
Milt is a true magicians magician. It is so much fun to watch his face when he is doing magic or seeing magic done for him. His smile is so contagious
Thank you Milt for your contributions to magic!! With out you it would all just be "tricks" to me.
Mister Toad: When you were an aspiring youngster, did you have a role model? (Either a magician or non-magician).
Kort: Mr. Toad,
The original Shadow created by Walter Gibson (Maxwell Grant)
Gary Scott: Hi Mr. Kort.
I am currently working through some of Bobo's Modern Coin Magic. Your name is attached to some 23 effects in the book. David Roth is also known for performing some of your great effects such as coin thru glass. How do you feel about having had such an influence on so many, though so many decades, and into the 21st Century.
Kort: Hi Mr. Scott,
I feel great to have had an influence!
When I was working for Sterling Magic in Detroit and professionals would drop in along with well-known amateurs I always made it my business to fool them, because if you fool a magician they remember you and they talk about you (at least for a day or two).
Because of my work schedule I was rarely able to attend conventions… People came to see me… word of mouth from professional magicians that came to town spread my name around. I never realized I was well known until my later years.
Paul Green: Hi all,
I am new to this board. It is a pleasure to be here.
Milt Kort is an awesome talent! I consider him one of the most knowledgeable people in the world of Magic. He has always been able to help me with my research into various routines and material. I am a better magician and performer because of what he has taught me.
Read his books!
Mike Gallo: I just want to thank Milt for having the influence he has had on me. When I was first getting into magic I devoured anything with the name Kort on it. Even to this day, the coins though the table using a shot glass and the O-Korto box routine are features in my close-up act Not to mention his cups and ball routine with the plastic Adams set from Kort is Now in Session. Milt, once again...Thanks for sharing with us...there are many magicians who have bettered themselves because of you!!!
PS: Hey Milt....I finally mastered the Rumsey Vanish
How are you. It’s been a long time since we’ve spoken. Nice of you to drop in on the forum.
Glad you mastered the Rumsey Vanish - one of the greatest moves in magic!
I’ll never forget how thrilled I was when I did it out at the Magic Castle and heard the gasps of amazement.
Damien: Hello again.
If you were in any situation and had the opportunity to perform any 1 effect, what would it be? (and why )
Mine would definitely be the cups and balls.
Kort: Hi Damien,
The Copper Silver Transposition using only two unprepared coins – pure sleight of hand – no gimmicks.
Dowdy: Hi KORT!
I know not everyone knows the story about the O-Korto Box. In your book, Kort you have a terrific trick with a box set. Would you elaborate on why you came up with the O-Korto Box?
For those who don't have Kort's book, KORT, you're sure missing out!
Kort: Hi Dowdy!
Wally Wilson and I were behind the prescription counter at my drug store playing around with the Okito box and trying to get some off-beat ways of using it. And I thought, wouldn’t it be funny if the coins would not go into the box… Which of course may mean you may have to switch a box, but everything’s fair in love and magic. We wrote up a routine. The end was going to be that the coins would not fit in the box. Then Ron Bauer came to the store a few days later. We discussed the box some more. And, we decided that instead of having the switched box at the end it would be better to have it in the middle of the routine. After playing around with the routine some more, Ron wrote it up as it appears in my book, The Magic of Milt Kort by Stephen Minch.. And, that is the story of how the Okorto box got started.
Mike Gallo: Howdy Kort,
Through the years you have develop so much and so many great routines. Well, could you share some of and personal favorites and tell us why they are a favorite with you?
Inquiring minds want to know…
You wanted to know which of my own effects I think are my favorites…
#1 “Copper Silver Transposition” - I like this because it’s very simple to do as it depends mainly on the presentation.. Everything’s done slowly and very clear to the spectator. (For more information, refer to The Magic of Milt Kort by Stephen Minch)
#2 The only thing of mine that is the actual routining of four different effects - it could be known as a lesson in magic, and that is “Gone Again and Again and Again.” The magician removes a half dollar from his pocket and covers it with a handkerchief.. A gentle tug on the corner of the hankie causes the coin to vanish. Remarking that maybe everything happened a little too quickly, he removes another coin from the pocket, covers it again and it also vanishes. This is repeated two more times until four coins have disappeared. Remarking that he has to stop as he has run out of coins, he replaces the handkerchief and acknowledges any applause he may receive. (From my book, Kort Is Now In Session)
#3. “Umgowa” - The vanish of a small statue of an elephant. You tell a long drawn out story which I hope is funny. (For more information please refer to The Magic of Milt Kort by Stephen Minch.)
#4. My gambling expose, titled “Gambler’s Type Four,” part of which was written up in the magazine, Cardiste..
Thanks for asking.
Mike: Kort, what, in your opinion, do you feel in the magic industry today is the worst part of our industry (market flooding, easily obtained secrets etc.)? In your opinion, what part of our industry is the most redeeming in value?
Considering that you've been in the industry for decades, I feel that you are acutely aware of where we have gone wrong and where we have gone right, which is specifically what I'm looking for with this question.
Kort: Hi Mike,
The worst part is incompetent magicians - People who refuse to practice.
Next is undercutting prices. (Dropping your price to steal a show from another performer)
Stage illusions - when it comes to presenting stage illusions I like to see plain magic without all of the fancy strobe lights, fog, and dancing girls which detract from the effect.
Blackstone and Thurston did great shows without all the fancy lighting, fogging, smoking things that detract from the magic itself.
Close up – People who are only interested in fancy moves and flourishes. I call them jugglers instead of magicians.
Magic to me should be enjoyable and entertaining. The audience (spectators) should not be made to feel like they are fools.
What have they done right with magic?
By bringing magic to television a wide audience may be exposed to magic shows that they most likely would never see otherwise. Even though I personally don’t think much of many of the performances, at least it may result in more young people becoming curious about magic, And, in turn, they may visit their local magic shops and get bitten by the magic bug and begin their studies of magic, the greatest hobby in the world.
Mike: Mr. Kort, vanishing a real and open edged razor blade makes for one of the most deeply affecting reactions I get, thank you for putting it in the Stephen Minch book. I'd like to know exactly what possessed you to even come up with a method of doing such a thing.
Kort: Hi Mike,
I had been fooling around with some tricks using books of matches and causing a book of matches to vanish. Then while making a small counter display and trimming some cardboard I was using a single edge Gem razor blade. Then the thought came, I wonder how it would look if I vanished the razor blade the same way I vanished the book of matches. And, sure enough it worked. I worked out a very small routine where I caused the razor blade to vanish and reappear after showing both hands empty.
Then, one day Ron Bauer came in on his rounds to the store ( He worked for an advertising agency and one of his accounts was Gillette Razor Blades.) I told him I had a trick that would make him famous.. And, I vanished the blade. I offered the blade to him to try it and he just said, "H--- No!" He would not touch the blade. This simple effect, believe it or not, became one of the top tricks in the book. It started out as a gag and became a hit. (By the way, Ron did eventually master it and became one of the top boosters of this effect.)
Dale Shrimpton: Hi Milt.
What 1 question have you not been asked here, yet would love to answer…
Kort: Hi Dale
I'd like to have been asked, "Who was the only editor of a well known, popular magic magazine that never edited a single issue?"
Mike: Mr. Kort, you've met most of the greats throughout our industry over the years and they, in turn, were as humbled by your company as you were by their's (although, judging from your many stories, you never let that fact on!). I was wondering, were there any magicians who you wished you could have met, but never had the opportunity?
Kort: Hi Mike,
Nate Leipzig, David Devant, Houdini, Al Baker.
Magic Sam X: Lots of Magicians and others involved in the Magic Art have been remembered for very specific things, Sorry for the morbid question but what would you most like to be remembered for?
Kort: At the risk of sounding egotistical or big headed, I think I’d like to be remembered as the late Robert Lund (founder of the American Museum of Magic) wrote of me in a 1962 issue of Abra Magazine, “He certainly ranks among the top 10 manipulative men in the country, possibly among the first five.”
YinHoNg: As a young performer, you must have been inundated
with praise and comments like "you'll go very far; you're the best Magician
we've ever seen" etc.
Kort: No matter how good you are, there is always somebody better, even though you do not wish to admit it. If someone is better than you, just try to improve yourself.. It will just give you something to strive for.
Lucien De Silva: Hello Kort,
Thank you very much for giving of your time to Magic Bunny; it is certainly appreciated.
My question is this: Is there any one routine or effect that you wish you had devised? If so, what is it? It can be one that someone else has devised, or one that has not yet exist.
Kort: I wish I could solve the puzzle of what is the difference between a move and a sleight. Stewart James, who to me possessed the greatest mind in magic, gave me that problem years ago and I’ve pondered this for years and still have not come up with a satisfactory answer.
Mike: In another question, Mr. Kort, you said that you feel books are the most important study aid that any student of magic can own.
If you would, please, list the books that are required reading for:
1) The beginner magician
It depends on what you are interested in - cards, illusions, it depends on what type of magic.
Personally, for the type of magic I do (close-up) these are the books I would recommend:
-Royal Road to Card Magic by Hugard and Braue (To learn the basic moves for card magic)
-Encyclopedia of Card Tricks by Hugard (It has various types of tricks, mathematical tricks, self-working tricks, trick decks, - it let’s you see all different types of prepared cards like the Svengali deck, the Stripper Deck, Double backed, double faced cards.)
-The 2nd edition of Modern Coin Magic by Bobo
-The Tarbell Course
-Any book by Devant
-The Annals of Conjuring edited by Todd Karr
-The Magic of Milt Kort by Stephen Minch
-The Ron Bauer Private Studies Series (which contains tricks written up the way they should be – Everything is included from script to stage direction and performance tips.)
Mike: I'd like to say a word of thanks to Milt Kort for taking his time with us, over this last week. The forum is now closed to questions, but Kort himself will be in to answer the last of them as time and health allows.
It has been a real thrill for me to have you on these pages, Mr. Kort, I really appreciate it.. Also, a thank you to the people who helped to make this last week possible, Sandra Kort and Ron Bauer.
Take care of yourself, Mr. Kort, and I'll be seeing you in the near future at the Orion House.
Admin: I'd like to say a very warm thank you to Milt Kort on behalf of the members of Magic Bunny. It has been a tremendous privilege having you on these boards and reading your replies to the threads. I shall look forward to the later replies when your health permits.
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit these boards. Your time and consideration is greatly appreciated.
Sean: Yes, thanks a lot Milt for taking the time out, even throughout you being unwell, to come on here and answer our questions. I'm sure I speak for the entire board when I say we're very grateful.
You took the words right out of my mouth!
Magic Sam X: Thank you for taking the time to come and talk to us and answer our questions..
Admin: A final thank you to Milt Kort for spending so much of his busy schedule answering our questions.
I was very sorry that your visit was interrupted by poor health and I wish you all the very best for a speedy and full recovery. I'd like to offer a special vote of thanks for professionally continuing with your duties in replying to questions here, despite not being in full health. That was very noble of you. Thank you Milt. Please accept the "Special Guest" descriptor as a permanent "thank you" of your valued input to our forums.
Gary Scott: A big thank you Mr. Kort...from all of us here.