Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Stanley Hunt – Continental Conjuror

This post features a popular magician whose presence on the magic scene spanned three continents. Sometimes when I’m researching these magicians, I check Ask Alexander and get, perhaps, two or three hits. When I scanned for Stanley Hunt, “Bob’s Your Uncle” as the Brits say. There were literally dozens and dozens of references to him and all very complimentary.

An active and popular performer, he began life in England, moved to the United States, and then emigrated to Australia. On all three continents he was admired and beloved. His card represents an ace of spades with a caricature of him inside the large ace, shooting cards from hand to hand. The back is designed by Dougherty Playing Card Company and is identified as a narrow size red angel No. 68 Squeezer. 

His full name was Arthur Stanley Hunt and he was a member of the Magic Circle M.I.M.C. He moved to New York around 1928-29 and quickly made a name for himself on the magic scene. He was a member of the S.A.M., #1714, and later of the I.B.M. 

On April 22m 1930, Hunt appeared on a Ladies’ Night show of the Parent Assembly. Also on the bill that night were William Meyerberg, Past National President B.M.L. Ernst, William Wisnew, Willard “The Man Who Grows,” and others. Hunt presented a vanishing glass of milk, color changing deck of cards and a cut out of a dog who identified selected cards by wagging his tail. He also performed the Magic Stamp Album.

The trick involving the dog deserves additional background. It was created by British magician J.F. Orrin but popularized by Hunt. It soon was offered by Max Holden and called “Reckless Rupert.” The dog sniffs the deck and by wagging his tail, identifies which card or cards were selected. Apparently it was a laugh riot.

When not performing magic Hunt was head of the shoe department of Abraham & Strauss, a large department store in Brooklyn. He must have been good because in 1935 he was engaged by Myer Emporium Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia as merchandise manager for all of its shoe departments. Hunt sailed for Australia in June of that year. 

On his way out of town he was hosted by Los Magicos, the Los Angeles magic club in the home of magician and book collector Earl Rybolt. He stayed with the Myer company for 32 years rising up through the ranks to become Chairman of Directors in 1964.

Hunt was a co-founder of I.B.M. Ring 84 in Melbourne and held many positions. He never sought the presidency because of the press of business. Even in retirement he avoided office because half of the year he spent in Melbourne and the other in Queensland where he had a second home in what was called “Surfer’s Paradise” a kind of Miami of Australia.

Ian Baxter, writing in his obituary in The Linking Ring said of him, “Stanley Hunt was skilful and humorous; he realised the power of magic to entertain, and he knew the value of simplicity in effects and methods. Who wouldn’t laugh at his slick rendition of Edward Victor’s “Eleven Card Trick?” And Stanley had a few specialties of his own: The Color Changing Waistcoat; the famous Stamp Album; the Hunt Spoon vanish; his witty dice stacking routine. The list goes on and on.” He was an Order of Merlin member of the I.B.M. with number 11447.

Hunt died October 18, 1977 at the age of 75. Obituaries appeared in all the major magic magazines and the conjuring profession lost another bright light.

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