Tuesday, August 29, 2006

William Gibson AKA Maxwell Grant (Re-Post)

Walter Gibson was born September 12, 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fascinated in stage magic from an early age, by 17, Walter had been performing his own magic show, had met "The Mysterious Dunninger", and was a partner in "Gibson and Rippey", a small magic shop. After college, he started working for The Evening Public Ledger, where he wrote crossword puzzles, a syndicated column on magic tricks, and other features. He also wrote the first of many books on magic - "After Dinner Tricks", "Sixteen Master Card Mysteries", and "The Bunco Book" as well as opening another magic shop with Bill Kofoes in 1925, as well as radio work for WIP in Philadelphia.

No other man "ghosted" more books for magicians - Walter Gibson became both biographer and the "ghost writer" for Howard Thurston, Harry Houdini, and Harry Blackstone. Gibson was engaged by Thurston in 1923 to write "200 Tricks You Can Do", "200 More Tricks You Can Do", "Fooling the World", "Book of Magic", and "The Thurston Magic Lessons" as well as a biography. Gibson met Houdini in 1915, and was even selected as one of the ‘inspectors’ for the Chinese Water Torture Cell. He eventually ghost wrote for Houdini, and had finished two books just prior to Houdini’s death in 1926. Walter produced six books on Houdini from 1926 to 1976, offering profound and personal insight into one of the most important and mysterious figures of the early 20th century. The third magician Gibson befriended was Harry Blackstone, Sr. and "ghosted" for him under the name Harry Blackstone, writing "Blackstone’s Annual of Magic" and many books that followed up to 1948 ("Blackstone’s Tricks Anyone Can Do"). In 1941, Gibson made Blackstone into a comic book hero. The comic was designed to be used as a promotional tool for his shows, but Street and Smith (publishers of Th* Sh*d*w) found that it sold extremely well. For 5 years, Blackstone carried his own comic and magic show. Gibson also wrote a radio series based on Blackstone.

Gibson became the editor of True Strange Stories in 1928, and by the next year was working on the first of many Sh*d*w novels for Street and Smith. The pen-name Maxwell Grant was created by combining the names of two magic shop owners. "Th* Living Sh*d*w" was published in April of 1931 and garnered success almost immediately. By mid 1932, Street and Smith were publishing Th* Sh*d*w twice a month.

Walter Gibson wrote amost 300 Sh*d*w novels over a period of 15 years. Many of the stories were used as scripts for the radio series, comic books, and movies. After the pulp ceased publication, and the radio show left the airwaves, Gibson began to write true crime stories as well as works on unsolved crimes, ghost stories, magic, and even some television adaptations. Walter Gibson was honored for his accomplishments in magic with a Masters Fellowship from the Society of American Magicians. On the other hand, Conde Naste's almost pathological legal persection of any and all fan sites relating to Gibson and his creation "Th* Sh*d*w" does his memory no honor at all.......

50+ episodes of "Blackstone, The Magic Detective" scripted by Gibson as a handy dandy zip file!
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