September 12



By Basil

September 12, 2019

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Check out the twins in the middle of the frame.  The two sweet girls wear the same dress and hairstyle.  But their attitude is so different.  

"What's the Magic Word Kids?... KELLOGG'S!"

The enthusiastic "Kellogg's" yell by the girl, center frame, turns the head of the boy next to her (right side of frame)!

"Wow, you're trying hard!" Says the Boy on right.

Then finally, she's a little embarrassed, and covers her mouth with her hands.  Meanwhile, here sister on the left just watches on, like "Yup, that's my sister..."

I love looking at the kids closely during this bit!

Does anyone recognize their faces?  Notice that this is not a "Scouting" audience.   These are kids that just wanted to see the show.  And notice how broad the age range is.  Please write in with  your memories of the show.

Magic Land of Allakazam Episode #38

This is Episode #38 which aired on week 38, June 17th, 1961.  The Evil Puppeteer Illusion, and features the Allakazam Players!  Mark, Nani, and Rebo play themselves, Bob (Harland/Torchy) Towner plays the "Evil Puppeteer", and Bob Fenton plays the Old Town Mayor.  Little Mike, Jackie Joseph, and Lynn Barton make brief appearances as the audience for the puppet show.

Allakazam Players, including Mike in shorts!

I noticed these two little girl twins in the top right corner of the frame at the opening of the show. (see below)  They caught my eye because they clapped so differently.  The right with a horizontal "normal" clap, as the other kids do... and the one on the left fervently clapping with a vertical drum beat action!  But wait, there's more... 

Opening of the show.  Notice the girl in center bottom... so sad about the big collar on her dress.  "Mother made me wear this!"

The House of Cards illusion on a Mignon Table.  

The magical minds working on these shows are amazing.  The thought that goes into each presentation is so well planned out.  Notice the subtle move by bringing on the EMPTY table from the right side, and Rebo's antics misdirecting from his big cart of cards, apparently haphazardly stacked... on purpose!

Magicians, watch this presentation closely, you will notice how clever they are in the process of producing Nani.  I had to roll back to see the placement of the middle layer  of flat cards, to see how Nani can stand up!  Oh, and watch how attentive Mark is to the two front cards that keep coming un-hooked.

Allakazam Show #38, House of Cards Illusion-built

Notice how Nani deftly  squeezes between the horizontal cards.  That took team work!

And then, everyone needs to strike those cards quickly to let her out, meanwhile Nani fixes her costume!  Tug Tug, and it's perfect.

What kid or for that matter, what person would not just flip over the enchanting Nani Darnell!

Another amazing aspect of these shows is the minimal rehearsal time they had, and yet how well they pulled off each performance.  There's a lot going on to make all that happen just right.  One slip up and Nani would have been caught in quite the compromising position!

Nani with Mark's gentle hand... I don't think he's doing much to help her though.  But it looks nice.

Watch the show closely as Nani elegantly leaps from that very high table, to the ground, landing with ease.  That's a well trained gymnast!  (She also taught Gymnastics as the assistant to her High School Gym Coach!  And had her own act for many years before Mark).

Nani, landing with a smile and perfect composure!

Still smiling, she adjusts her costume with ease, like the pro that she is!

I think the magic of the show was not just the tricks, but the relationship between Mark and Nani.  Just look at how cute they are!

End of the opening illusion!  Episode #38

And here's where Mark introduces the first commercial... after succeeding at producing Nani from a very complicated House of Cards!  Great Team Work!

Just after the Cartoon, Mike gets to do magic with a Spaceman, a Rocket, and the Moon!  I think he's having fun with this one.  Oh, and he speaks too!

Mike, Rebo, and Daddy Mark working together!

Mark presents the "Split Deck" with a little Bridge size Fox Lake deck!  Even though the cards are small in real life, it plays big on TV!  It's a shame that the little boy helping him was so nervous.  It was hard for him to relax and enjoy the magic.  But the trick worked great!

Allakazam Show #38, The Split Deck

Mark does his "now" standard segue into the "Mark in Audience" bit.  But this week it's not a tirck he shares with the kids, it's how to improve your dexterity!  He teaches finger exercises.  Look at how skilled his fingers are.  

This kid is wondering, "how does he do that?"   And then, "Why does he do that?"

The Big Bavarian Set!  I wonder where it came from?

The Allakazam Players present the next "one-act" play, with  the story narration as Mark's voiceover.  Remember, when you watch it, that this is done live.  Mark's voice is actually playing on the set, and the characters are reacting to it as it happens.  Even though the show is recorded, there can be no mistakes in this "live" TV presentation, because there's no money to go back for a second take.  

The other commendable aspect of this episode, is the creation of the two characters played by the two Bobs.  Robert Fenton plays the Town Mayor.  And, Robert Harland "Torchy" Towner plays the Evil Puppeteer.  Nani reminded me that each of them did their own makeup, not only to save money, but also because they were very good at it.  Each had a background in Theater and Circus that started way before the Magic Land of Allakazam.

The Town Mayor describes the thefts that have plagued his town recently, to Mark. 

The story is introduced and entirely acted out through the narration.  Watch the episode, I don't want to spoil it for you here.  Instead, let's look at how clever Fenton and Tower were with their characters!

Mark meets the Puppeteer, and already has doubts about the truth behind this odd fellow.

Later, Mark whisks off the Puppeteer's fake beard, revealing the Evil Villain!  To the Mayor's surprise.

Imagine this in color, with Towner's brilliant red hair, erupting like flames from his head.  It's not a surprise that he was given the nickname, "Torchy".  I knew him later in life, with white hair, as genius and lovable man , "The Wizard Harland"

In the story of this Episode, Nani and Rebo have been caught in an evil spell and transformed into puppets!  Notice that the puppets have matching costumes to the real Rebo and Nani that we saw in the opening of the story!

Closeup of the Nani and Rebo puppets

These two custom made puppets were the creation of a team of two: Glen Schmitz, the series lead art designer.  And Carol Beth Kindig, the hidden hero and un-credited seamstress that worked closely with Nani to fulfill all of the "sewing ' needs of the show.

Carol Beth, or as I knew her, Auntie CB, worked for Mark and Nani for many decades, starting with Allakazam, but continuing on through the many different companies that Mark had in the years to follow.  She made the Robot Girl costume, and most all of Nani's personal costumes.  She also helped design and perfect many of the fabric magic tricks performed in the amusement park shows, the trade shows, Corporate productions, and even magical elements for the Burger King shows.

Her craftsmanship is unparalleled.  She made things to last by making them perfect.  Many of her pieces are still in use today in my shows, even though they may be 50 to 60 years old.  They are made so well, that they look like new!

Auntie CB did it all on a simple yet durable Singer Sewing machine that had one stitching pattern... a straight line.  She maintained the machine as well, with love and great care.  We still have the machine, as it was Nani's personal sewing machine before Carol Beth.

In the late 80's Carol Beth suffered from cancer throughout her body, but never complained about the pain, nor did she seek treatment.  Her wonderful soul worked hard right up to the end when she passed in her sleep, with the elegance that was her style in life.  

Mom told me that she knows that Carol Beth had a crush on Bob Fenton, but we have no idea if it was mutual.  Both of them were very private people outside of work.  

Auntie CB and John Gaughan are probably the two longest running and consistent team members in Mark and Nani's life.  I know I loved her very  much myself, and we all miss her dearly.

The Happy ending, Nani and Rebo are turned back into people, and the Villain was captured...  of course!

Time to be RE-ENCHANTED!

The Allakazam Archives has digitized to preserve  Episode 38 of  The Magic Land of Allakazam!

They look so happy and relieved that it all worked!


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