Magician Jay Marshall died May 10 of heart failure in Chicago. He was 85.
Since 1992, Marshall was known as the Dean of Magic, named by the Society of American Magicians. One of the magic world’s most well-known figures, he was also a writer, edtitor and collector and owner of the Magic Inc. store in Chicago, where he also lived.
Born in Abington, Mass., he began developing routines by watching magicians and researching at the New York Public Library. After marrying and divorcing Naomi Baker, whose father, Al was a dean of magic, he married Frances Ireland, whose husband owned a magic store until he died. Frances was a magic writer, merchant and performer until her death in 2002.
Marshall performed professionally for over 50 years, appearing in nearly every state and several foreign countries. On Broadway, Marshall portrayed the magician in the Alan Lerner/Kurt Weill musical “Love Life” (1949); and Crumleigh in Vinton Freedley’s “Great To Be Alive” (1951). He participated in and performed a speciality magic monologue in the Golden Jubilee edition of “Ziegfeld Follies” (1957).
He appeared on the Jackie Gleason Show, the Sid Caesar show, the “aul Winchell show and fourteen times on the Ed Sullivan Show. He opened for Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas, and was part of the last variety act to play vaudeville’s famous Palace Theater in 1957.
He was editor of magic pub “The New Phoenix,” and wrote several books for magicians.
Also a practiced ventriloquist, he appeared with his hand puppet Lefty the rabbit on the Ed Sullivan show. Lefty is now in the Smithsonian Institution.
He is survived by a sister, two sons, four grandsons, four great-grandsons, and one great-granddaughter.
Donations may be made to the Actors’ Fund of America 203 N. Wabash, Suite 2104, Chicago, IL 60601.