GERALD TAYLOR (1/09/1927 - 21/01/2022)
The World’s a Stage
Gerald Taylor was born in Brisbane, Australia on the 1st September 1927. He joined a concert party to entertain troupes over the 1940-1941 period of the war years – 1939 to 1945.
It was seeing The Great Levante – Les Levante – perform his spectacular “How’s Tricks” magical revue at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Brisbane in 1941 that inspired Gerald to become a magician. Twenty years later, they became good friends.
Was an inaugural member of the Queensland Society of Magicians circa 1941, and was its youngest member. Performed at the Cremorne Theatre Brisbane on the 1st January 1944 billed as Australia’s youngest magician. The Cremorne was the number one variety theatre in Brisbane, equivalent to the Tivoli Theatres in Melbourne and Sydney. Performed in three shows from 1944-1945.
During the war years 1943 to 1945 performed at the American Red Cross Services Club on many occasions. It was situated on the corner of Adelaide and Creek Streets Brisbane.
Charles Wicks, who established the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) in Australia asked Gerald to form a Brisbane Ring of the organisation. The inaugural dinner of the Brisbane Jean Hugard Ring No. 124 was held at the Carrington Lounge on Monday 8th June 1953. Gerald was elected President and remained in this office until he resigned from it in circa 1961.
In October 1955 the Abbot’s Magical Company of USA purchased the manufacturing rights to produce a production box invented by Gerald in 1945. They called it “The Box of Pam”. It is still being marketed by them.
Over a period of years namely, 1950, 1953, 1956 and 1959 presented a number of two night and four night shows of magic at both the All Saint’s Hall and the Albert Hall in the city of Brisbane. The first two were joint shows with James Reid, a well known magician in Brisbane. He convinced Gerald that he could carry a full evening of magic. The latter two were presented solely by Gerald with two variety artists on the bill.
When T.V. commenced in Brisbane in 1959, Gerald performed on QTQ 9 in their Tonight Shows on many occasions and performed in the first variety show presented by the ABC “Anything Goes” on Channel 2 on 26th November 1959. The thousand pound Key Test (later $2000’s) devised by Gerald was first presented on QTQ9 on the 21st September 1960. More of this later.
Performed privately for the Governor of Queensland, Sir Henry Abel Smith at his 1959 New Year’s Eve party. Gerald was the only entertainer to perform. Was again invited to perform for Sir Henry, as above, in 1963.
In 1962 Gerald won the top award for the year on an international level, and was awarded an “Oscar” by the I.B.M. in the USA for a treatise he wrote on magic called “A Revolutionary Approach to Black Art”. This had been published in their magazine “The Linking Ring” in June 1961. J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd. owned the lease of Her Majesty’s Theatre in Brisbane and staged their productions in that theatre. After negotiating over a period of time, Gerald managed to lease it for his magical production to commence in August 1963. Prior to this, he went overseas – USA and UK – to purchase extra props, and came back to open “The Wonderland of Magic” on the 9th of August 1963. This was very well received with very complimentary press notices and has been detailed on the Gerald Taylor issue of the Genii Magazine, January 1976.
The production proved to be the watershed of his magical life. Everything else was either before or after Her Majesty’s in 1963.
Another approach presented itself when he performed for the bulk of 1964 in the Sydney clubs. Highlights of 1965 and 1966 were performances on the following T.V. shows in Sydney and Melbourne:
The Dave Allen Show in Sydney
Two appearances within a month on the Tommy Hanlon Jr, In Melbourne Tonight (IMT) Show.
Two appearances within a month on the Bob Crosby Show
The Graham Kennedy IMT.
Later was flown across Australia to Perth to appear in the Jeff Newman show on channel 7
The Key Test as previously mentioned provided an entrée into these productions.
Another twist of fate caused Gerald to open Aladdin’s Magic Shop in the Embank Arcade, 325 Collins St. Melbourne in April 1966, thus combining a magic shop with TV appearances. He ran it very successfully until 1980 when it was sold. It ran for another five years before closing in 1985. During the Aladdin’s years, wrote and published “The Classical Technique of Fire Eating” featuring Bruno Nolo’s fire eating act. This has now become a classic on the subject.
In 1980 edited and published the Charles Waller book “Magical Nights at the Theatre”. This was limited to 1,000 numbered, signed copies and has now become a much treasured collector’s item. It covers the history of magical performers and other affiliated artist who visited Melbourne, Australia from 1854 to 1947.
He is a member of the Inner Magic Circle of the Magic Circle of London with Gold Star M.I.M.C.. Also a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians USA, Order of Merlin – Excelsior.
Devised and set up a “Magical Hall of Fame” and performed at the Magic Castle on the Gold Coast, QLD in 1981. This site became a theme park called “Magic Mountain”. Arthur Coghlan had been performing there for years. Gerald resigned from Magic Mountain at the end of January 1986. Arthur resigned a month later. Magic Mountain ultimately closed a year later in 1987.
Purchased Bernard’s Magic Shop at 211 Elizabeth Street Melbourne in February 1986 and ran it successfully until October 1992 when it was sold.
Was presented with the Green Mill Award by the Performing Arts Museum in Melbourne. Gerald Taylor is the only magician to receive this once a year prestigious award. The wording on the award reads: “The Performing Arts Museum Green Mill Award 1992. Presented with admiration and affection to Gerald Taylor in recognition of his lifetime commitment to the art of illusion in Australia and to the preservation of its traditions and history.” 13th November 1992. Frank Van Straten, Director.
As a magical historian, Gerald was asked by the Performing Arts Museum to present a one hour talk on magic. This was presented during National Museums Week in the Coles Myer foyer of the Melbourne Concert Hall. It covered “The Image of Magic Through the Ages” from ancient Egypt to David Copperfield and featured twenty four coloured slides and the performance of four magical effects. This was so successful that it was again presented later in 1994 in the foyer of the George Fairfax Studio. Then for the National Trust at “Como” in 1995 and at the Victoria College of the Arts in 1996.
Gerald wrote the magical contents for the book “Companion to Theatre in Australia” published by Currency Press in 1995.
Was presented with a “Lifetime Achievement Award in Australian Magic” at the Silver Anniversary Magical Convention held at the World Congress Centre in Melbourne 9th June 1996.
Was one of the featured artists in “The Way We Were” show at the Optus Playhouse at QPAC Brisbane on the 22nd September 2002. This production consisted of fifteen well known artist who had performed in Brisbane on stage and TV from the 1940’s onward.
Wrote the magical contents of the book “The Encyclopaedia of Melbourne” published by Cambridge University Press in 2005.
Supplied the historical magical information and assisted with the display of the properties for the “Hocus Pokus” magical exhibition at the City Museum, Old Treasury Building, Melbourne 6th December 2008 to 22nd February 2009.
In 1993, he was asked by the Performing Arts Museum in Melbourne to describe in detail the Magical items that had been donated to them throughout the years. He commenced that year, working one day a week on a volunteer basis.
After completing the Magical collection, stayed on, itemising the extensive J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd., collection and others.
There was a hiatus from 2001 to 2003 during which time he returned to Brisbane. Upon returning to Melbourne, he re-commenced and stayed until June 2010 when he retired. It was a wonderful insight into the Theatre in Australia.
Gerald passed away peacefully in the early hours of the 21st January 2022 at St. Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne aged 94 years. His "surrogate daughter" Kristina was by his side.