Gene Anderson

Science, Magic, and the Secret of Happiness

May16 cover

Every now and then, a performer comes up with a presentation and method for an effect that captures the attention of magicians, whether they are hobbyists or professionals. In the 1950s, Don Alan’s routine for the Chop Cup became the way to perform that trick. In the world of stand-up magic, Gene Anderson’s method and presentation for the Torn and Restored Newspaper (published in 1968 in the book Newspaper Magic co-written by Gene and Frances Marshall) became the way to perform that trick; other methods have appeared, but no one has found a better presentational premise.

Doug Henning used Gene’s method and presentation in The Magic Show on Broadway, and the trick’s popularity exploded. Had this routine been the only thing Gene created, his legacy in magic would have been well established.

But it is hardly the only thing; Gene Anderson is much more than a one-trick pony. He has finally completed his magnus opus, The Book, which will make its official debut this summer at the S.A.M. convention in Indianapolis. It is a big book: 256 pages filled information gleaned from a lifetime of performance. To be sure, there are routines with newspapers, but there is also much more. [An excerpt from The Book will appear in the June M-U-M; a full review will appear in July.]

The Book has been a long time coming, and there’s a reason for that. I’ll let Gene explain why: “Almost at the outset I realized I would have to illustrate the book myself. I needed to see the visuals as I was struggling to find the words, both together and in real time. That isn’t unusual; it’s the creative process. I learned Adobe Illustrator and used it to create 487 illustrations for the book.

“Photographs work better than line drawings in some cases, so I set up a studio in my basement to photograph the assembly steps and props. All of the 403 photographs taken by me and my collaborators were post-processed in Photoshop, and I used InDesign for the page layouts. It has been quite a journey, and with lots of new discoveries. It’s been fun.”

That’s what Gene Anderson did, because that’s the way Gene Anderson works: identify the problem, analyze the problem, and figure out a way to solve the problem. If this sounds to you like the way a scientist would approach problem solving, you’re absolutely right.  Dr. Gene Anderson, PhD, is a scientist who had a full-time, thirty-two-year career with the Dow Chemical company, and who continues a forty-year career as a part-time professional magician and public speaker.

I’ve known Gene Anderson for almost four decades. He was, and continues to be, the most positive, upbeat person I have ever known. Gene and I spoke for several hours in preparation for this article. Although I learned much about his life, the secret of how he maintains his cheerful enthusiasm

Read the full article here.

May16 TOC