Al Hirschfeld’s magicians – UPDATED

May 31, 2018

I have fond memories of Sunday mornings as a boy, searching the Arts page of the NY Times for the “Nina’s” hidden in Al Hirschfeld’s illustrations. It was a clever game of hide-and-go-seek, since Hirschfeld hid his daughter’s name so well, and in such whimsically obscure spots – in the folds of a coat sleeve, a feather’s bristles, somebody’s sideburns, or the ashes at the end of a lit cigar.

“Can you find all the Nina’s?

I remember my first Al Hirschfeld drawing. It was his illustration of magician Harry Blackstone, Jr.  A budding magician myself, my parents drove us to West Point Military Academy in 1981 to see his full-evening show on the stage of the Eisenhower Hall theater. As memorable as the show was (a lightbulb floated out, illuminated, over the heads of the audience!), equally memorable was the playbill.

There on its cover was Blackstone, captured by Hirschfeld’s pen, five Nina’s hidden away in a pigeon’s tailfeathers. There were just enough pen strokes in the drawing to capture the essence of the subject, no more and no less. As I write this, it reminds me of my high school English teacher who said that the Red Badge of Courage contained precisely the number of words necessary to deem it a great American novel, no more and no less. Hirschfeld’s illustration of Blackstone did the same sort of thing, but with lines.

I became fascinated by Hirschfeld’s work, and over the years have been collecting both originals, lithographs, and gicleé prints by Hirschfeld. The crowning glory was when, in 2000, Hirschfeld did an illustration of me.

 

Ace of Hearts, signed for me by Al Hirschfeld in his studio, August 27, 2000

 

What an honor – I’ll explain the whole experience in another blog post, including the unveiling at Margo Feiden’s gallery on Madison Avenue (she’s since moved to a townhouse downtown).

What I’d like to do here is record every magician that Hirschfeld drew, to my knowledge. Some are professional magicians, some are amateurs. Some I have scans of, and others I don’t.

UPDATED ON MAY 1, 2018 WITH MORE IMAGES I’VE LOCATED,
THANKS TO READERS OF THIS BLOG.

 

Magicians captured by Al Hirschfeld’s pen:

Houdini

David CopperfieldCopperfield

David didn’t like the original Hirschfeld illustration for his Broadway show “Dreams and Nightmares” (pictured above) so he commissioned Hirschfeld to create another one:copperfield-hirschfeld

Penn & Teller

Harry Blackstone, Jr.

blackstone-hirschfeld

Doug Henning, in the Broadway musical Merlin

 

Doug Henning, in The Magic Show

Ricky Jay (w/ David Mamet)Ricky Jay hirschfeld

Orson WellesWelles

Danny Kaye (also an amateur magician)Danny Kaye

Cary Grant (on board of directors of the Magic Castle, Hollywood, CA)cary_grant

Johnny Carson (known as the Great Carsoni, early in his career)Carson

Woody AllenWoody Allen Hirschfeld

Harry LorayneHarry Lorayne

Harry Anderson, with cast of Night Court

 

Steve Martin

 

Dick Cavett

Milton Berle

Dom DeLuise

 

Tony Curtis, with Janet Leigh, Houdini movie

 

Ray Bolger, as a bumbling magician

Avner the Eccentric

Bob Fitch

Jason Alexander, with cast of Seinfeld

Jackie Gleason, with Art Carney

Dick Van Dyke

 

(I don’t have an image for Alan “Ace” Greenberg (of Bear Stearns), but I’ve seen his Hirschfeld)

 

If you know of others, please contact me. My goal is to list every known magic-related Hirschfeld illustration.