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Harry Collins (magician)

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Name
  
Harry Collins


Role
  
Magician

Harry Collins (magician) wwwmagictomcomderivedevenmorehtmtxtHarryC

Harry Leon Collins (April 27, 1920 – May 3, 1985) was the official corporate magician for the Frito-Lay company from 1970 until his death and also a Marine during World War II. Known as both "Mr. Magic" and "The Frito-Lay Magician", Collins entertained across the globe while promoting Frito-Lay products.

Biography

Collins was born in Glasgow, Kentucky to Paul Collins and Sadie Emerson. He had one older step-brother, three younger sisters and one younger brother. At fifteen he became the head of the family after his father died. Working their farm planting tobacco and corn without the aide of mules or wagons he provided for the family as he finished high school. He became interested in magic as a teenager after watching a local attorney, Edward Smith, perform magic tricks.

Collins joined the Marine Corps immediately after high school graduation. He sent his entire paycheck back to his widowed mother and younger siblings to provide much needed support. Eventually, putting all of his siblings through college. He added to his income by performing sleight of hand magic and other support services such as ironing and washing for service men going on liberty, even building his own washer in a barrel powered by a foot pedal. In addition he supplemented his income working concessions stands at the commissary. He served as a Marine during World War II in the Pacific Campaign. While serving as a Marine in World War II, he became injured while stationed in Saipan Recuperating in Hawaii he auditioned for Bob Crosby. The audition was facilitated with the use of a stolen cabbage from a nearby field. He hollowed it out, then set it sideways in his helmet for his hand to create a quasi "rabbit in a hat" trick! Thus, attracting the attention of Bob Crosby and securing a position in the show. For the rest of his time serving, Collins performed his magic act as part of Bob Crosby's USO show, called "This Is The Army Show."

After Collins' service was complete, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1952. He was hired as a salesman for the Frito-Lay Corporation, a job he would hold for 45 years. He advanced to a sales manager after being known as the Frito-Lay Man by day and Mr. Magic by night. Mr. Magic became one of Louisville's most popular entertainers. In 1970 he was given the full-time job as Frito-Lay's corporate magician, switching from the Frito-Lay Man to the Frito Lay Magician. Collins, now more commonly known as Mr. Magic or The Frito-Lay Magician, traveled around the United States, promoting Frito-Lay products. He also starred in a wide variety of television commercials and commonly made appearances at supermarkets, conventions, fairs and schools. When he performed, instead of using the common magic phrase "hocus pocus", he would say "frito-lay".

Later in Collins' life, he became the mentor to Lance Burton; one of his shows was attended by a young Burton. Later when Burton began doing magic himself, Collins saw his devotion towards the art and became his mentor. Collins taught him the techniques and fundamentals of magic, including sleight of hand, the manipulation of playing cards, and the important art of misdirection.

Collins was a member of the Louisville Magic Club.

Collins married Maxine Warner Lewis in 1980. They enjoyed many travels and adventures on the road as a magician and his assistant. After his sudden death on May 3, 1985, Barney Bright was commissioned by his wife to create a life size bronze statue that was placed in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.

References

Harry Collins (magician) Wikipedia


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