Harry Blackstone Jr. Died 19 Years Ago Today

By Tom Interval

Harry Blackstone, Jr. and 14-year-old San Diego magician Tom Interval

Harry Blackstone Jr. and 14-year-old San Diego magician Tom Interval, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1981

In memory of Harry Blackstone Jr., who died on this day 19 years ago, I’m posting this photo again.  I met him in Pittsburgh on June 4, 1981, when my father, Jerry Interval, a professional photographer, was hired to take stills of Harry filming a car commercial. I wrote about the experience on my blog a few years ago on the day of his birthday: Harry Blackstone Jr. Born 79 Years Ago Today. Here’s to your immortality, Harry.

Harry Blackstone Jr.
(June 30, 1934 – May 14, 1997)



Posted in Anniversaries, Famous Magicians, Harry Blackstone Jr., television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bill Bixby’s Floating Ball

By Tom Interval

From 1973–1974, Bill Bixby starred in The Magician, a prime-time television series about a wealthy magician who uses his unique skills to outwit bad guys trying to victimize those who ask for the conjurer’s help. In this popular promotional photo, Bixby is levitating a steel ball, a classic trick known in the magic circle as the Zombie Ball. The image was begging to be animated, so I obliged. Hope you enjoy. Keep your eyes open for more posts about Bixby and The Magician in the near future. (Animation copyright 2016 Tom Interval)

Bill Bixby as The Magician. Animation Copyright 2016 Tom Interval.

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Happy 81st, Harry!

By Tom Interval

Harry Blackstone Jr., Pittsburgh, 1981 (Photo: Jerry Interval)

Harry Blackstone Jr., Pittsburgh, 1981 (Photo: Jerry Interval)

Harry Blackstone Jr., the last great Golden Age-caliber magician, would have celebrated his 81st birthday today. Born on June 30, 1934, Harry was a superb entertainer whose classic style was, and is, unmatched in the world of magic. His commanding, honey-smooth speaking voice, flawless comic timing, original magic illusions, affable demeanor, and keen business sense, made him one of the most sought-after performers of his time. I had the pleasure and honor of meeting him in 1981. I could go on and on about that experience, but I’ll save you time by linking to my June 30, 2013, blog entry instead. Wordy tale concise, I got to meet him and speak with him at length during a television commercial shoot, where my father was hired to take still photos. If you have time, please read that blog entry; it’s one of my fondest childhood memories. Anyway, Happy birthday, Harry!

Posted in Birthdays, Famous Magicians, Harry Blackstone Jr. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Vision Academy After-School Magic Program Wraps Up

The after-school magic program I was teaching at San Diego Global Vision Academy (SDGVA) wrapped up on June 12. The program, which began in April, ran seven weeks and was the first of its kind offered at the public charter school. Students participating in the classes responded very well, and the school has expressed an interest in having me back later this year.

If you’re an executive or administrator at another school and are interested in offering a similar program to your students, please contact me, and we can arrange to meet and discuss the details. In the mean time, please read the press release for more info and check out some of the photos from the SDGVA program below.

And if you’re one of my former SDGVA magic students, you can now watch all seven video tutorials on the secret Web page I told you about. If you lost the address, no problem. Just send me an email, and I’ll reply with the info you need.

Hope you have a great summer!





















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Time-lapse Card Reveal for Magicians

By Tom Interval

If you’re one of my magic students, or a magician who just happened across my website, here’s a great card reveal you can use right from your smartphone, tablet, or PC. Bookmark this 40-second YouTube video (also embedded below), grab a deck of cards, and find someone willing to see this trick! Have your volunteer pick a card, remember it, and place it back anywhere into the deck. Show them the video, and they’ll be stunned to see the card they selected! If you don’t know the secret to this trick, then you’re either not a magician, or you’re a new student of magic. Either way, if you have a sincere interest in magic, consider taking magic lessons from me, and you’ll soon learn the secret to this great trick and many more! Feel free to contact me now for details.

Posted in Cards, Multimedia, Tricks, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Houdini Illusion Color-Changing Mug

By Tom Interval

Okay, so you have to check out this mug—one of the coolest out there (see the 1 min. 49 sec. embedded video below). Yes, I’m a bit biased since I’m the one offering it on the Interval Magic CafePress Store. However, I make next to nothing on these since I’m only the designer and not the actual manufacturer or distributor.

Long story longer, people like me who know a thing or two about graphic-design programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator can make original custom designs and upload them to websites such as CafePress or Zazzle, which distribute customized T-shirts, mugs, clocks, mouse pads, and more.

Anyway, my Houdini two-face optical illusion is now available on the very magical color-changing mug featured in the following video. Enjoy! (And while you’re at it, feel free to buy a mug to support creative artists like me. Wink.)

Posted in Famous Magicians, Harry Houdini, Harry Houdini, Houdini Two-Face Illusion, Multimedia, Optical Illusions, Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Houdini Miniseries Coverage

By Tom Interval

John Cox, Kristen Connolly, and Tom Interval at the Magic Castle, September 2013 (Photo: Danny Binstock)

John Cox, Kristen Connolly, and Tom Interval at the Magic Castle, September 2013 (Photo: Danny Binstock)

If you read the Interval Magic blog from time to time, you might recall that last year Houdini expert John Cox (Wild About Harry) and I were fortunate enough to have dinner at the Magic Castle with actress Kristen Connolly, who plays Bess Houdini on History’s Houdini miniseries, which premiers this Monday—Labor Day—at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Kristen was nice enough to say some great things about John and me in some of her recent interviews. John wrote a nice piece about that on his blog, but I wanted to include the excerpts here as well.

Thanks for these public kudos, Kristen!

‘Houdini’ Star Kristen Connolly on Mrs. Houdini, ‘House of Cards,’ and Wikipedia Errors

Did you jump into research on Bess Houdini when you signed on to the movie?

I did. I’m really, really lucky, because what I started doing was just ordering these biographies, and they’re like 600 pages long each. I was sort of slogging through slowly. But I have a dear friend, Michael Mitnick, who is a writer and a huge Houdini fan. He knows an incredible amount about the Houdinis. I’ve learned that there are a lot of people who are sort of obsessed with the Houdinis and know a lot about them.

Michael put me in touch with a man named Tom Interval, who is a magician based in California, and he is a Houdini expert. He put together this packet of information: all the most important things that you could find, extracted from all of these different sources. I can’t even tell you how helpful it was. It was like 30 or 40 pages of material about Bess as a person: how she grew up, anecdotes that people told about her, her relationship with Harry, all kinds of things that were just unbelievably useful to me. I certainly could not have done all of that work in the time that I had without him.

‘Houdini’s’ Kristen Connolly captures the magic of Bess Houdini

What kind of preparation did you do for this role?

I was really lucky in that a good friend of mine, a writer, Michael Mitnick knows quite a lot about Houdini and he was able to put me in touch with his magic teacher, Tom Interval, who is a magician based in California. I went out to Los Angeles and I was set up with Tom and John Cox who runs the “Wild About Harry” blog dedicated to Houdini, that’s just this awesome, wealth of information.

Tom put together this amazing packet of all Bess related information. He not only gave me this amazing resource, but saved me countless hours of pouring over all these books for information on Bess’ life. It’s a little bit harder to find stuff on her. There’s just so much written about Houdini and there’s a lot written about Bess, but you kind of have to sift through to find it. I referred to that document constantly while shooting.

History’s ‘Houdini’ Captures the Power of Illusions—and Love (INTERVIEW)

“I learned how to do something cool with cards,” she says. “[San Diego magician] Tom Interval gave me all the information on that. He taught me one cool way to shuffle cards that looks fancy on film. I don’t even know if it made it into the movie… Adrien really carried the bulk of the magic.”

HOUDINI: Kristen Connolly on Playing Bess Houdini

How familiar were you with Houdini before you took this role? I think a lot of people might have a general idea of who he is, but did you know a lot about his life, his biggest magical acts, or how he died?

KC: Not really, no. I knew a little bit: I knew the name, and I knew he was an escape magician. Luckily, I have friend, he’s a writer, Michael Mitnick, who is actually a Houdini expert, and I had no idea about this. But as soon as I got the part — and he’s really close with my brother, Will — and [both] my brother and my fiancé said, “You have to talk to Michael Mitnick, he’s a Houdini expert.” He put me in [contact] with some wonderful information, and then put me in touch with some wonderful people in Los Angeles — John Cox and Tom Interval.

John has a blog called “Wild About Harry,” and it’s awesome. It’s in-depth, and has endless information about the Houdinis, especially on Bess. And Tom put together this amazing report for me with all the information about her. It’s harder to find information on Bess; you have to dig through things. So he saved me endless hours of reading every biography out there by putting it all in one place. I was really lucky to have people helping me on getting a handle of who she was. And she’s such a fascinating person, so it was really exciting to do that research.

Kristen Connolly on ‘Houdini’ and ‘House of Cards’

Was the actual performance of playing Bess later in life the same as when you were doing grad school theater?

Yeah, it’s the same approach. You do the same homework. You try and find a character and find what makes people do what they do and what they care about and what’s important to them. That process is all the same, just on a much different scale certainly. Yeah, it was a really thrilling job to have and actually a friend of mine from graduate school who was in a class with my mother is sort of a Houdini expert. He’s a writer named Michael Mitnick and he knows tons about Houdini and actually put me in touch with some guys in Los Angeles who are also Houdini experts. So I got some insights thanks to grad school so it kind of came full circle.

Kristen Connolly tries a bit of magic in the new History mini-series ‘Houdini’

What did you know about Harry Houdini before getting involved in this project?

I didn’t know much beyond the fact that he did escapes. If you had said Houdini to me, the first word that would have come to mind is magician and that’s about it. My research started from ground zero, but I was really, really lucky. I had a friend from graduate school named Michael Mitnick, who’s a playwright, who happened to be sort of an Houdini expert. He was been able to sort of point me in the direction of certain books and of some really wonderful people in Los Angeles who are also Houdini experts. One of them, John Cox, has a blog called “Wild About Harry.” Anyone who’s interested in Harry Houdini should check it out.

What did you learn about Bess? Did she really smoke marijuana?

She did smoke pot. She drank a lot. There’s much less written about Bess than there is about Harry. But if you are so inclined, you can really dig and find it. I learned an enormous amount from [John]. He was able to tell me what was really substantiated, what was a bit controversial, what some people said but it’s probably not true.



Posted in Adrien Brody, Bess Houdini, Celebrities, Film, Harry Houdini, Harry Houdini, Houdini, Kristen Connolly, Portrayals, The Magic Castle, TV | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment