Tony Griffith


Tony Griffith was born in Romford, Essex. Today he lives in Bristol and has been married to his wife Judith for 40 years. They have two children, a son who is a Fashion Designer working for the fashion house Mulberry, and a daughter who is an Occupational Therapist, married with two young children.

Like many of his contemporaries his first contact with magic was through The Boys’ Magic Service in Prestatyn, North Wales. He would save his pocket money to purchase the magical wonders advertised in their catalogue.

National Service was spent in the R.A.F mostly at R.A.F Innsworth, Gloucester. Here he had his first contact with a magician by the name of Barry Foster, a lad from Sheffield. Barry taught Tony his Linking Ring routine, which, much later was to be superseded by Dai Vernon’s Symphony of The Rings. Occasional visits were made to shows put on by the Cotswold Magical Society. Serle Taunt and Johnny Hayward were names of magicians who were prominent in those shows; the first, a very good Chinese act and the latter a lovely manipulation artiste. By a strange co-incidence Tony and Barry found themselves standing near each other in the foyer of the Floral Hall Theatre at a recent I.B.M. Convention in Southport; their first contact in nearly 50 years.

On leaving the R.A.F. in 1954 Tony joined the Bristol Society of Magic and is still a member today.
Membership of The Bath Circle of Magicians, The British Ring 25 of the I.B.M and The Magic Circle soon followed. He was awarded his M.I.M.C Degree by the President of The Magic Circle in January 1982.

In the early 90’s Tony and a few other colleagues formed The Weston Wizards. This is a small group of seven enthusiasts who meet each month in a member’s home in Weston - Super-Mare. There are no rules or officers and the object is simply to discuss and do ‘magic.’ Due to the intimate nature of the group they are able to concentrate more on the presentation and construction of routines - something that cannot really be done in a larger society. When a visiting overseas magician is in the area, they expand their group to take in the lecture.

During his early years in magic Tony’s knowledge and ability grew thanks to the help and interchange of ideas he received from members of the local magic clubs. He joined a concert party performing his magic in all types of venues. This was very good grounding in learning all about stage technique and presentation. At this time he was presenting a mind reading act.

He ventured into entertaining children and this continued from around 1960 until 1993 when he decided to change direction. He took part in a TV programme for deaf children Hand In Hand in 1987. This was an HTV production and 10 shows were recorded. The magic presented in his children's’ show was not that of the traditional children's’ magician.. In the main, it consisted of visual items more usually associated with the adult entertainer BUT it contained all those bits of business so loved by children. Working from a large black attaché case placed upon a collapsible white Servowagon Tea Trolley it looked very professional. The magic was colourful, and the end of the show was signalled with the display of a large 36“ ‘Good Bye’ silk coupled with a 6’ giant flagstaff.

This was what many called a golden era of magic. There was Harry Stanley’s Unique Magic Studio with the well known magicians he brought to these shores. He was backed by the brilliant magic of Ken Brooke, supported by the writing of Lewis Ganson, both in the form of the GEN magazine and his many book publications. It was a world where such names like David Nixon, Al Koran, Fred Kaps, Channing Pollock, Johnny Hart , Marconick, Maurice Fogel, Chan Canasta , Robert Harbin, David Berglas, Dai Vernon, Slydini, Al Goshman were to the fore. It also marked the advent of another magic dealer who would make his name on the magic scene - one Edwin Hooper and The Supreme Magic Company. It was a great time to inhale and absorb the ideas that were all around and Tony found it very stimulating.

It was during this period that Tony turned his attention more and more to Close Up Magic and started giving lectures to magic clubs. One such an occasion , at a Supreme Magic ‘Day, ’ prompted Edwin to suggest to Tony that he write a book on his card magic ideas and that he would publish it. Thus was born Griff On Cards (1964) followed by Griff On Close-Up (1967) and An Invitation To Mystery (1969).

It was Edwin who also suggested to Tony that he undertake a lecture tour of the U.S.A. and promptly put him in touch with Emil Loew and his Magician’s Lecture Service in New York. His first lecture tour took place in the summer of 1969.

Club lectures were presented in New York, Chicago, Peoria, New Orleans, Houston and Denver. Included in this trip were lectures and shows at the three major conventions in the U.S.A:- The S.A.M convention in Kansas City, the P.C.A.M in San Jose and the I.B.M. convention in Cincinnati. The highlight of the latter convention was appearing on the after banquet show with Norman Neilsen who made a dramatic entry. As he entered from the rear of the banquet hall and made his way to the stage, a single spotlight lit up his face in the otherwise darkened hall. Coupled with the appropriate music it was a sensational way to enter the ‘performing arena.’ It was an applause rousing cue.

The final week of the tour was a week at The Magic Castle in Hollywood. He was picked up at the airport by Bill Larsen, proprietor of The Castle and Editor of the GENII magazine. Then on to a dinner party at Bill’s home. Without any warning Tony found himself in the company of Slydini, Dai Vernon, Channing Pollock, Kuda Bux, Al Goshman, Gerald Kosky, Jay Marshall and Senator Crandall. In such prestigious company he decided to keep silent and just listen with awe and wonder at the yarns they were spinning and the tricks they were doing.

During this week Tony was able to spend some time with Dai Vernon and learn at the feet of the master. The Professor (as he was called) came to see Tony’s show three times and on the final night presented him with a letter which to this day he very much cherishes. It said “I compliment you for your splendid performances in The Magic Castle. Your engaging manner and pleasing delivery of well chosen words thoroughly entertained your audience. With many onlookers already satiated with card tricks it is not easy to hold them enthralled as you did. I congratulate you. My only wish is that more of the present day Wonder Workers could present their effects with such charm.

An interesting story about the Professor, which Tony witnessed at first hand was that if someone showed him a trick that he didn’t quite understand, he would call over his friend Larry Jennings, and in his high pitched voice say something like “Hey Larry, come and have a look at this.” He would then ask the performer to do the trick again, so that his friend could see it. This would then enable the Professor to see the item a second time without seeming to lose face.

Tony has since made some nineteen visits to the U.S.A on lecture tours ( magic clubs plus such conventions as Abbotts, Winter Carnival of Magic, the I.B.M in Washington and the P.C.A.M. again in San Jose) , plus five further visits to the Magic Castle. In 1996 he gave his 100th performance at this mecca of magic.

During most of this period Tony had a variety of real day jobs. He was an Education Welfare Officer for a time, then a Child Care Officer (dealing with children in care). He went to teacher training college and taught for 17 years in primary schools, ending up as Head Teacher (Principal) of Pensford County Primary School in Bristol.

Tony has always been interested and active in sport, in particular the English game of Cricket. To further his teaching career he studied for, and was awarded the MCC Cricket Coaching Certificate and was thrilled to receive it from the world famous West Indian Cricketer Sir Garfield Sobers. He also trained and obtained his Soccer Referee’s qualification

Tony left the teaching profession in 1986 to take up his hobby on a full time basis. To quote one article about him in The Magic Circular, it was …………… from teacher to thaumaturgist.

Since then he has moved on at a rapid pace. Apart from visiting the U.S.A/Canada he has undertaken lecture tours to Australia/New Zealand (three times) France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark and various venues in Europe and the U.K.

He has written articles for a whole variety of magic magazines such as The Gen, Magigram, New Tops, The Magic Circular, Abracadabra, Magicana, Genii and The Linking Ring. Tony has appeared on the front covers of Abracadabra (July 1976) Genii (September 1978) The New Tops (May 1981) and The Linking Ring (August 1997) His One Man Parade appeared in that same issue of the Linking Ring and his Pseudo Psychometry routine was awarded the Howard Bamman trophy for the best trick published in The Linking Ring for the year 2000. Many of Tony’s current ideas can be found in his 78 page set of lecture notes. He also manufactures a number of his own creations.

Not content with presenting magic lectures Tony has a lot of experience in performing for the general public. He has had a number of residencies in hotels and restaurants presenting his own brand of Close Up Magic. His services have been sought after by some of the major companies and hotel chains in the UK. He has a number of clients who continually book him for their private parties. Organisations such as Sun Life, Friends Provident, Falmer Jeans, Anglian Windows, Honda, Amtrax Express Parcels and Elo Touch Systems are just some of the companies who have used his magic to promote their products and services at trade show exhibitions.

With 17 years teaching experience behind him Tony instigated his Magic of Science show for schools, and since its inception has visited over 600 primary schools (many of them several times) throughout the U.K. The show has also been presented at The Science Museum in London, various science centers and science festivals in different parts of the country.

The Magic of Science is a show that demonstrates to children simple practical ideas in science that they can try for themselves. It is a learning experience. The ideas shown are designed to encourage the development of a variety of skills, which can be followed up as a special project or slotted into the curriculum. The aim of the show is to enable children to see that science can be fun. Although no magic is performed in the show, Tony uses his experience in the entertainment world coupled with that in education to provide an entertaining and educational presentation.

Tony has also written in the education world and his book Science Fun was published by Scholastic Publications in 1991 with a second edition in 1992. A further edition was produced for German readers in 1993. Some of his other ideas can be found in a booklet he has put together for teachers, aptly named The Magic of Science.

When entertaining children always be ready for the unexpected. At one school Tony visited he was showing the children how to do some siphoning . As he was doing it a little voice called out “That’s how my dad nicks (steals) petrol.” The teacher nearly fell off her seat.

In the early ‘90s Tony received a communication from Daryl (Martinez) enquiring about lecturing in the U.K. The outcome of this was that he organised a 20+ lecture venue tour of these islands. This was so successful that word got around and soon other overseas lecturers were getting in touch

During the last 14 years Tony has organised extensive lecture tours of the British Isles for Daryl ( 3 tours), Harvey Berg, Kirk Charles, Paul Harris, Joe Givan, Doc Eason, Harry Allen, Jorg Willich, Jon LeClair, Dan Garrett, Steve Beam (3 tours), Jon Charles, Pat Fallon, Ron London, Michael Ammar, Jay Sankey, Jahn Gallo, David Ginn ……………… quite an outstanding range of talent.

Recently Tony has concentrated more on presenting his One Man Show The Art of The Magician. This is ideal for groups of up to 50 persons, and also fits in well on the smaller ‘After Dinner Circuit.’ It is an hour long performance in intimate surroundings and draws upon Tony’s many years experience of performing.

Tony still continues to lecture to magic organisations both in the U.K and overseas. A new innovation is his Creative Magic Lecture/Teach-In which takes place at his home in Bristol twice a year. In this action packed day the material presented places emphasis upon subtlety, routining and entertainment. Areas covered include Close Up Magic, Trade Shows, After Dinner Speaking/Entertainment, Promotion, Publicity and Organisation. Seating is limited to 10 persons only and has proved very popular, with magicians coming from far and wide to attend. As part of the package delegates receive morning coffee, a buffet lunch and a light tea. See Tony’s website for future dates and also (Reviews) for a review of a previous day.

Top Trick
This has to be the Floating Light Bulb as performed by Harry Blackstone Jnr. Tony has had the pleasure of seeing this performed live a number of times, and it never failed to draw gasps and a standing ovation. It is , or was pure theatre. Two items run it very close The Floating Violin as presented by Norman Neilsen…… poetry in motion., and The Spirit Cabinet by Francis Willard and Glen Falkenstein….lightening fast and breathtaking.

Top Book
It is difficult to select any one book. The Tarbell Course in Magic served Tony very well in his early days and gave him a good grounding in general knowledge. He has always been very fond of reading books written by Lewis Ganson, and of all his offerings, The Dai Vernon Book of Magic came out on top. John Booth’s publications are always well written. Forging Ahead In Magic as part of the John Booth Classics, published by Supreme Magic Company was a great inspiration. Regarding recent publications The Secret Ways of Al Baker is a masterpiece incorporating all the works of this great magician. Steve Beam’s five volumes of Semi Automatic Card Tricks contain some wonderful material. Finally, for sheer volume and quality he plumps for the three Stewart James books …Stewart James In Print - the first 50 years, and The James File, volumes 1 and 2.

Top Magician
It is very difficult to choose any one magician and say “He is top man” because there are so many different styles of presentation. Tony makes his judgment only on magicians he has seen. In the stage category his choice goes to Harry Blackstone Jnr. He looked like a master magician, and had great stage presence. He had that wonderful line when presenting the Floating Light Bulb. “You will remember this for as long as you live” …..and you did. In the cabaret style of magic he would go for Fred Kaps as one of the greatest of his kind. Among today’s performers Tony rates Alan Shaxon among the very best. In the mental field it is a tie between Maurice Fogel and Al Koran. The best magic demonstrator without doubt Ken Brooke. In the card magic field he places Steve Beam as one of the most polished and entertaining men with the pasteboards. Finally as top Close Up Magician his vote goes without hesitation to Daryl.

Top Magic Quote
"If I have been able to see farther than others, it was because I stood on the shoulders of giants"
Sir Isaac Newton. Tony thinks that in a way this quote is applicable to magic. "By reading and studying what has gone before us, can only be of benefit. It gives us a depth of knowledge that is lacking in so many of today’s DVD (don’t read books) magicians."

Top Magic Moment
There are two such moments. One is his first appearance at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, meeting Dai Vernon and receiving such a nice letter from him at the end of his week there. The second thrill was being accepted as a Member of The Magic Circle many years ago, and then being elevated to Member of The Inner Magic Circle in 1982


© MagicWeek 2005