Category Archives for "Allaka-Discoveries"
The amazing discoveries as the collection is researched and digitized
The amazing discoveries as the collection is researched and digitized
Recently, as I was digging through our collection of 16mm film to catalog all the Allakazam Episodes we have. It's interesting that some are named "Magic Land" as it was often called in various TV Guides and Newspaper reviews. But then I ran across a group of film cans that were called "Magic Club" and they did not match the length or style of the actual film cans that house Allakazam Episodes.
Well, those reels were intriguing, and deserved further exploration. But it was not until we celebrated Mom and Dad's birthday at the office, that we finally watched some of those films! To my surprise, and Mark and Nani's as well, it was a COLOR TV show that they had forgotten that they made! Wow!
The show was made in 1967, we figured out from the copyright at the end of the credits.
As we dig through more of the Archives, I'm finding more pieces of the puzzle. Like many photos that I had mis-labeled, thinking they went with another project, but now realize they came from this show!
A good friend that works at a local production company, helped introduce me to the right person that could get these shows digitized on a 2K machine (each frame is scanned, instead of the telecine format that catches the images as they are projected into a camera). So now we can see what's on many of the films. Not all were transferred, just the ones I suspected to be really good or special for some reason. In the process we discovered some more material. One was a commercial made for the show! It's designed to advertise the show on TV, not so much for selling it to the Network.
While I'm currently researching what the best thing is to do with the shows, we are having an exclusive PREMIERE screening at our offices on Saturday August 24th! Your contribution of $250 per seat will be used to help transfer more material, and preserve the collection. We do not have any government grants or other funding, so we rely on the love and support of our Allaka-Fans. If you see this posting and want to come, we have very limited seating, but you can email me at:
Since I announced the discovery online, many people have asked for a preview of the Premiere. So, here it is... the Commercial for the series, originally made in 1967. Please enjoy the video below:
To see the full version of what we have found, and to learn more about the whole AllakazamArchives.com project... and most importantly, to share time with Mark, Nani, and tour the collection, come join us on this Saturday, August 24th, 2019. We currently are exploring offers, and will update everyone as soon as we know what our plans are! And we have a lot of other material we will Premiere on Saturday!
We hope you can come. Please email me at the address above.
One of the biggest hurdles of this archival work is to preserve ALL of shows in which Mark and Nani performed on and produced. It's a challenge because they have been involved in showbiz for all eras and types of recorded analog moving images!
They really did start at the dawn of Television. Mark and Nani come from the era when nothing was recorded, it was only live, and they had to drive from city to city to do each TV show for each market. And their career has now passed the last of the 3-D HD - D1 and D2 - highest quality analog tape recordings (even though the signal is digital in that format, it is recorded on a linear tape that plays back for analog output, not "non-linear" from a hard drive). I'm so happy to say that because of Mark's vision for the future, I'm taking them into the Digital age, and hopefully with your help, way beyond!
So far, almost everything on this site had been from a video source of some type. The film archives have been a somewhat elusive goal... The films are what I'm trying to add to the collection these days, initially because some episodes of Allakazam are missing. But as I dig through the collection, its FUN to DISCOVER the hidden TREASURES!
To save this huge collection before it decays, means I also need a wide variety of video players.
With the idea of saving everything, I've been collecting video equipment by purchasing at auctions and accepting donations of every type of gear I can afford, some working, some I get for parts. I'm looking for and am finding pretty much every type... from 1" reel to reel, to Beta Cam, Beta SP, Digi-Beta, 3/4" U-matic, Sony DV Cam, 1/2" Reel to Reel, S-VHS, Hi-8, Laser Disc, and of course VHS and DVD. I don't have all of that yet, but we have quite a good pile of gear to sort through and try to make work.
2" Quad Video is a whole other topic... and is even more difficult to maintain and operate. That's way out of reach for me, technically. We can talk about the 2" collection in another "Allaka-Discovery" article.
At the same time, I must keep my old video editing software going on older equipment, and save money. I prefer not to use subscription software, that's why I've hit the limit on upgrades. Now I need to find older Mac's that will allow me to run the "legacy" versions of Final Cut Pro and Photoshop that I own.
Clem and I work together to break down the MacPros I get from different facilities that close down, and equipment auctions. We try to re-assemble the parts into working computers. It's fun to make them work but a big distraction from doing the archival work.
Films of television are better known as, "Kinescopes"... the 16mm film format used to record and broadcast TV shows, prior to the popularity of Analog Video. While I know what I'm looking for in Video equipment, the film gear has been the most difficult for me to find... Especially the right equipment to convert the Kinescopes to Digital Video for preservation.
These days, everything is Digital Video, and mostly "Non-Linear". That's how you watch TV through cable and the internet. Broadcast TV requires a digital antenna. The world of analog is on its way out, and very quickly too.
But the world of Television back in the 1950's and early 1960's was quite different. It was all recorded on film! There was no video tape yet.
And even when video tape became the technology of choice for initial recording and some broadcast, it was not used for long term preservation. There are many sad stories of whole series of TV shows being lost because the original tape was expensive and therefore "reused".
Though the "Magic Land of Allakazam" was actually recorded on Video Tape first... those "Camera Masters" were immediately transferred to 35mm film for editing, as there was no way to easily edit the video tape at that time. The sound did not go through any "re-mixing", they just used what was originally recorded, so the post-production process could be kept to a minimum the budget!
Sadly, but or one single show, the 35mm versions of the Allakazam episodes were all lost. The versions we see now are the surviving 16mm Kinescopes that were sent around the world to air the show in local markets.
Mark and Nani have closely guarded these remaining films of Allakazam, along with many other films that I am only now discovering!
I had the good fortune to find one of the "workhorses" of the TV industry dating back to the mid 60's that was used and recently restored, to play these Kinescopes and convert them to video. I won at auction, an RCA TP-66 projector. Sadly it did not have a video camera, and that is my current search... to find a camera with the right macro lens to actually take a video image right off of the film print.
Sadly, one of the world’s most knowledgeable Magicians has been lost… Denny Haney.
He was not only a great performing magician, but also was a loving, honest, and caring advisor/mentor for anyone that needed help with their magic. We watched him spend hours coaching and teaching young and old alike. But for Nani and me, he was an even better friend!
We often met him at his magic shop when we were performing in the Baltimore area. We would also get together whenever he would perform at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. Though he is not with us anymore, his magic lives on in his audiences and patrons to which he brought so much joy and laughter.
Here's the announcement we received from Denny's store on January, 23rd, 2018:
Friends of the Magic Community,
It is with heavy hearts that we must announce the passing of one of the greatest contributors to our art. Last night, Denny Haney passed peacefully in his sleep after a brief battle with cancer.
Denny was a proud American and a Vietnam Veteran having served four tours of duty stationed near the mountains in Pleiku. Upon his return to the US, after serving his country, he began his career as a professional magician. All through the 1980's and early 90’s he was a very successful corporate entertainer.
He wanted to give back to the magic community so he took the money he earned on the road, and opened up a studio where magicians could come and learn, practice their craft, rehearse and exchange ideas.
As many of you know, his daughter Dawn has been running the shop during his illness. We kindly ask that you respect his family's privacy at this time and refrain from calling. We will continue to process orders in a few days. We will be updating with more information about Memorial Services as they become available.
The Denny & Lee Magic Studio
To his family, please know that he is in our hearts. He will be missed!!
Mark and Nani
If you are lucky enough to have your Saturday morning Magic TV show sponsored by a cereal company, what a dream it would also be to also have your name and magic on the back of their products! That dream came true for Mark Wilson and his "Magic Land of Allakazam."
I remember my mom telling me about going to the grocery store with my older brother, Mike, back in 1962, and how much fun they had finding dad’s magic cereal packages on the shelves. Recently I began researching the story of those Kellogg’s products and what lead up to them being made. Here’s what I’ve found so far.
Since Mark’s early days as a Magician, he knew the power of not only incorporating the sponsor’s product into his magic, but also adding his magic to the sponsor’s packaging. From his training grounds with Morton’s Potato Chips when Mark was a teen, through his years at SMU, focused on advertising, marketing and sales, Mark honed his skills for innovative combinations of magic and promotions.
To produce a TV show is only one of the battles for money, you also have to get the airtime somehow. Back in those pioneering days of broadcast entertainment, many TV shows had a main sponsor that would buy the time from the stations, local or network. And that’s the way dad sold his shows. It was too difficult to convince the programming directors at the TV studios to buy a magic show. But Mark was able to prove to some big corporations the benefits of advertising their products through his magic shows. Hence, they purchased the airtime with Mark branding the magic show for their particular product.
Each sponsors products and magic have their own quite interesting stories, and each builds on the previous gains, leading up to that “Brass Ring” of a prize, the Network Show.
To convince the potential sponsors for the Network Television Magic Series, Mark used much of his local work with the Texas based corporations in his sales tools. Dr. Pepper, 7/11, Fritos, Newhoff, 3M, and more of dad’s sponsors had very clever uses of magic instruction on product backs, in-store displays, and mailed premiums, in addition to the phenomenal ratings and viewer feedback.
In hindsight it makes total sense that the magic would also be on AllaKazam’s sponsor’s Cereal Boxes. But I am wondering, with all the success, why did Kellogg’s wait a year before adding this incredible marketing tool to the product that the Magic Land of AllaKazam was promoting for them? The answer may be as simple as, “things don’t move that fast in manufacturing.” I’m still not sure. But as I explore this more, I will share the details with you.
Most importantly, the Kellogg’s promotional Magic Cereal Boxes were made! I asked my big brother Mike, since he was around at the time, to talk with mom and dad. Here’s what he found out when he interviewed Mark and Nani.
“Mark had called on nearly every potential sponsor for a children’s TV shows in the USA. One of them was the Leo Burnett Agency in Chicago. This advertising agency had confidence that Mark and Nani's show would be a hit, because during the previous year, Mark Wilson’s Magic Circus had been successfully syndicated to 6 cities with 3M and their "Scotch-Brand Cellophane Tape" products.
Based on this success, prior to the Kellogg’s opportunity, the ad-agency for 3M, Benton & Bowles , was working to bring Mark & Nani to a network. Back then there were only three nationally broadcast opportunities... ABC, CBS and NBC. 3M, through Benton & Bowles, approached NBC, which initially was quite excited about the program. Unfortunately, the network people desired an hour long product and chose to put on a golf show that became the first golf program on TV hosted by Bob Crosby, brother to the famous singer, Bing.
The following year, in 1960, Leo Burnett agency found a sponsor for Mark & Nani's show with Kellogg’s. They also asked Mark & Nani to change the name of the show to AllaKazam... with two "ll" so that the K would end up in the middle of the word. The K being stylized after the type font of Kellogg’s.
Kellogg's "All Stars" was their cereal with a magical hook, little stars with holes in the middle, and a cartoon character called, “Whoo, The Wizard of Oatz.” The promotion revolved around a "magic cereal' and the marketing message called for the help of Mark Wilson. The advertising agency was familiar with Mark's integration of magic tricks and product promotion. They knew of his "Sealed Secrets" and the success of the small magic book for Dr. Pepper. As well as the magic themed bag headers he had created for Fritos and others.
It was because of the huge popularity of the first year of “AllaKazam” shows that Kellogg’s took the big marketing step to identify the show on their products. The proof… They asked Mark and his team to come up with 10 magic tricks that could be put on the back of cereal boxes. Of course this was at the same time that the Allakazam team was deep in production for the next season, and doing the “Road Shows” (Road Shows are the State Fairs and other attractions that they appeared at during the TV show’s production “down time”).
Mark always wanted to meet the folks that were supporting his shows. So it was a natural for him and Nani to fly from Los Angeles to Battle Creek Michigan in 1962 to meet management. Many of the folks Mark went to meet had not watched the “children’s show,” but with his signature color-changing pocket-knife trick, he was quickly well-appreciated.
While in Battle Creek, Mark asked if he and Nani could go to the Kellogg's factory and see the cereal boxes in production and get some of them right off the press, un-assembled, obtained well-before they were folded and filled. The Kellogg’s executives gave Mark and Nani a few un-tainted boxes… an amazing thing to have. They even had an opportunity to sample some of the cereal right there in the factory! That must have been a great experience." MMW
Thanks for all that info, Mike. You did a great job getting those details from our folks.
There were a total of 10 different “magic backs” and some were used a second time on different sizes of packaging. There are a total of 13 including the various sizes. Some of them relate directly to the cereal brand itself, such as the “Stars” trick on the “Sugar All Stars” box. And one is a direct reference to the cast of AllaKazam, the “Magic Balancing Act” featuring Rebo.
Each has Mark Wilson’s caricature, I believe drawn by Glenn Schmitz, and a reference to “The Magic Land of Allakazam”. But “Whoo” the “Wizard of Oatz” character had been dropped already, and replaced with Huckleberry Hound on the box cover.
Sadly, Kellogg’s was phasing out the “Sugar All Stars” brand, and I bet this was a big worry to Mark and the gang. You will notice in the photos of Mark and Nani with 8 cereal boxes; one of the fronts the other of the backs, that the “All Stars” boxes are not present. Perhaps this was Mark’s attempt to show Kellogg’s that any of the Kellogg’s cereals would be a fine sponsor for the show. It was not long after this that Kellogg’s stopped pushing “All Stars” and thereby discontinued advertising the brand. Which explains why Mark changed sponsors and networks mid-way through the life of the series.
I wonder how many more magical cereal boxes would have been made had Kellogg’s switched their products to sponsor AllaKazam?
The best thing is that Kellogg’s did do, as Mark had initially proposed way back when he was selling the show to them, was to make a product with his magic on it.
But I’m still curious and continuing my research. A few additional facts I’ve recently uncovered are interesting and lead to more questions. Leo Behnke, one of the creative magic minds that contributed to the Allakazam Team, told me;
As well as I can remember it, Glenn Schmitz and I were called into the office and we met with Mark. Mark gave us the assignment and his ideas, and we went to work at Glenn's home in the west valley. I don't know who came up with the idea of working with pieces of the boxes, but it worked. Mark had done similar product backs, and give-aways before Allakazam, on his own in Texas. I picked additional ideas out of the magic slum file in my head, combined with Mark’s ideas and his previous printed promotions, then explained them to Glenn, and he sketched them out. He made them into line drawings and with Mark’s final input they were sent off to Leo Burnett, the ad agency. To this day, I have no idea why they didn't use Rebo's face and wardrobe for his box; might have been a licensing thing, or they re-did the art at Kellogg’s.
Glenn was a very quiet guy and an excellent artist, and had been working for Disney but was now on his own. He preferred to work in pastel chalks and most of the skin on the fingers of his right hand was cracked from losing all the oils and moisture. Also, when he wasn't busy drawing during a meeting, he'd be working a kneadable eraser in his fingers--had to keep them busy, I guess.
Thank you Leo for your great memories. And of course with Leo’s vivid description of Glenn Schmitz, I want to know more about Glenn!
I did find out that Glenn was born in 1929, and passed away in 2000, working in the animation and character art industry here in Hollywood right up to his passing. I hope to learn more about his wonderful career and share it with you.
I’m still digging through the collection, searching for more photos, letters, and ephemera about this story. So please keep your eyes open for my newsletter, and as I add to this and other sections of the Allakazam Archives, I’ll be sure to keep you up to date!
Thank you for your time and interest to read this article. This whole project is a labor of love. We appreciate any help that you, our Allaka-Family, can share with us. Please watch for the “Treasure Store” section of this website. It’s coming very soon. In it, I will list exclusive items for sale. The proceeds of those sales all go to maintaining the collection and continuing this research.
With my Allaka-Best Wishes, and Happy Magic!