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Tiki Central Forums » » Beyond Tiki » » "Skipper Frank" Herman-KTLA tv show Magician
"Skipper Frank" Herman-KTLA tv show Magician
Bay Park Buzzy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 07, 2006
Posts: 3044
From: West Bay Park, San Diego, CA
Posted: 2014-04-29 8:32 pm   Permalink

I just found a big case of vintage magic trick books:

I bought them because the case was nice, they were cheap as sold in an entire lot, and I figure that if times got hard, I could learn a magic routine and go down by the cruise ship terminal and do magic for tips from the tourists.

After looking through the contents more thoroughly, I found that the case was actually owned by the late Skipper Frank Herman

Here's some general background info on Skipper Frank from his LA Times obituary:


"'Skipper Frank' Herman; Host of TV for Children
"Skipper Frank" Herman, who delighted Southern California baby boomers with his magic, ventriloquism and banter on "Cartoon Carousel" and other 1950s children's programs on pioneering television station KTLA, has died at the age of 83.
Herman, who also had a Channel 5 program called "For Kids Only," died Jan. 4 in La Jolla, his longtime friend and fellow magician David Alexander said Wednesday.

After Skipper Frank went on the airwaves live in 1956, his top-ranked program soared alongside those of other local children's favorites such as "Engineer Bill" Stulla, Tom Hatten, who hosted "Popeye," and Jimmy Weldon and his puppet pal, Webster Webfoot.

"What we did was mostly ad-lib. We all wrote our own shows," Herman said to adoring grown-up boomers when the four swapped stories at the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills in 1997.

Herman, who first had a short-lived show called "Magic Party" on Channel 11, chatted and played games with youngsters on TV from 1956 to 1963. It was a different time in television, when the hosts had to charm audiences with no computerization or even color--and it was all broadcast live with no opportunity to correct any mistakes.

Skipper Frank and his wooden sidekick, Julius, also were required to step from the studio into supermarkets and carnivals most weekends to promote their show and hawk sponsors' products. Herman, who continued to perform commercial-free magic shows at various venues, unabashedly urged kids to eat Kellogg's cornflakes when he appeared under the "Cartoon Carousel" banner.

Alexander said the highly popular Herman could have had a national career, but chose to remain in Southern California for the sake of his family.

"Frank was absolutely first-class in his work, a wonderful entertainer who always delivered," Alexander said. "Every appearance was a lesson in quality entertainment."

Born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Herman became fascinated with magic at age 12, and within three years was giving magic shows. After service during World War II, he moved to Edmonton, Canada, where he worked for several years in radio.

But he was intrigued with the new medium of television, and relocated to Los Angeles, where he sensed it was developing fast. Herman initially tried the "Magic Party" show and did several late-night automobile commercials, using magic to lure buyers.

He came to KTLA's attention when its program "City at Night" featured him in a performance of the P.T. Barnum play "The Drunkard." Herman performed several roles in the play in several different venues, including the Pasadena Playhouse, over more than two decades.

In 1963, Herman left the kiddie shows to host a nighttime talk show in San Diego. He spent the remainder of his career working in cable television for TelePrompter and the New York advertising firm Foote, Cone & Belding.

Throughout his life, Herman continued to perform magic shows for children at schools and elsewhere, although a bout with cancer in the 1970s left him almost totally deaf.

Herman, who is survived by his wife, Gloria, four sons and seven grandchildren, lived in Carlsbad, Calif., during his retirement years."

Here's a quick survey of what I found in this case:

A couple catalogs

Manuscript copy of a Magicians biography and a couple pamphlet books

Ten different monte card tricks, with instructions and cards. Each one has a different trick in it and set of jumbo cards to perform the trick.

I'm going to learn these and go swindle some people down on the boardwalk

Linking Ring Magazine with him on the cover and 3 trick books he wrote

He took the Linking Ring article and republished it as it's own pamphlet book. Included was his hand made cut and paste master copy of it

Old school cut and pasting right there

Interior had added a couple bonus pictures to the hand cut original magazine page's text

Hand typewriter typed credits page

A bunch of trick compilations ranging in age from the 40's to the 90's

I read this one and now I know how to palm tiki matchbooks at the swap meet:

Ventriloquist and puppet reference books

The ventriloquist book was published in 1938. Date is right on his life timeline that this could be his original source/inspiration for his early ventriloquist act

It shows you how to construct your own dummy and has routines and instructions in it as well

Magician's society pendant

There were also all these folders of paperwork in there

My favorite in them is this letter thanking a client for hiring him. In my research of him, it was noted that he spent his weekends off from his tv show working and doing promo appearances and such for his sponsors

Check how paragraph 3 transitions nicely into how the client should pick up some tuna

He even tells him which store has it! Now that's a sponsor getting their moneys worth

Here's a quick survey of the folder's contents

Newspaper clippings about him, lecture notes, routine trick lists, and trick explanation pages

Newsletters from magician clubs and organizations

Trick pages and more magic newsletters

This one's cool. It's another cut and paste master printing copy of one of his books

you can see the whiteout he used on some of the letters and the pictures he clipped to assemble it

Typewritten original sheets with illustrations glued to them

He glued his own product ads in it from earlier sources

More tricks and how to make props for them

Really old tricks and more newspaper clippings

He was known for paper illusions. There were a bunch of these predone pages cut out

Seems he was well known for the Troublewit. A ton of troublewit tricks and routines

A couple more complete tricks with props

Hands doing tricks photos

More tricks explained

and even more...

Now to make myself disappear!
Buzzy Out!

[ This Message was edited by: Bay Park Buzzy 2014-04-29 20:43 ]

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 20, 2006
Posts: 962
Posted: 2014-04-29 9:26 pm   Permalink

Holy smokes!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 07, 2012
Posts: 805
From: The base of the Volcano
Posted: 2014-04-29 9:40 pm   Permalink

What a great collection of someone's life long ambition!

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nui 'umi 'umi
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 21, 2011
Posts: 2594
From: La Mirada Atoll
Posted: 2014-04-29 10:26 pm   Permalink

Can hardly wait to see “the Buzzy Show” at the next Itmp,.
Nice find buzzy!

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Atomic Tiki Punk
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 19, 2009
Posts: 7048
From: Costa Misery
Posted: 2014-04-29 11:01 pm   Permalink

OK that is is just to cool, Buzzy!....Great Find, love the history behind it.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 18, 2006
Posts: 1994
From: San Diego
Posted: 2014-05-02 06:35 am   Permalink


How did he fit all that in one suitcase?
It's magic!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 27, 2002
Posts: 629
From: SoCal
Posted: 2014-05-02 08:30 am   Permalink

When I was about 19 I started attending some of the local magic clubs in the inland empire. Skipper Frank was often at the elsinore club. By that time, he was really old and mostly deaf. He lived in the oceanside or upper san diego area as I remember.

My dad thought it was super cool because here was a guy he watched on tv as a kid...

I know I have some pics of a me with Skipper frank performing on the same show in a vfw hall or something of the like...

By the time he passed, I had stopped going to the clubs and was traveling a lot doing magic...especially over seas.

If you want a few names to contact in your area of magic collectors I could probably get you a few.


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Unga Bunga
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 06, 2003
Posts: 5857
From: CaliTikifornia
Posted: 2014-05-02 3:03 pm   Permalink

Amazing find Buzzy!
I saw the Skipper Frank show at Santa's Village (Skyforest, CA)

Skipper Frank selling hot dogs and giving away something (?) to the kids.

(Silent video, Skipper Frank at 10 sec. mark)
Skipper Frank

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