Here is an excerpt
The Complete Life Of
Howard Franklin Thurston
By Robert E. Olson
Volume One - Page 11 -
"The following chapters
have been gleaned from extensive research on the life of Howard Franklin
Thurston, who billed himself as the "World's Greatest Magician" (from 1908
through 1936). The materials used include over one thousand letters,
newspaper clippings, programs and program books, advertisements, books and
all of the memorabilia associated with such a subject. It is my hope
that this information will be new to the student of magical history and
interest to all members of the Hocus Pocus fraternity.
To begin with, let me
mention the Grace Butterworth Thurston manuscript (authored by Howard's
first wife) which she entitled "My Magic Husband, Thurston The Great."
It was written in the early 1940's (nearly forty years after Grace and
Howard had divorced) by Grace with the help of writer William L.Rhode.
When Grace passed away in 1972, Mr.Rhode gave the manuscript to
magician/collector Clayton Albright or Albany, New York.
While visiting with
Clayton in 1980, just before retiring for the day, he handed me the above
manuscript. "This is the book written by Howard Thurston's first
wife," he said. "Would you like to read it?" I spent a
sleepless night reading the fascinating book! Then I talked him into
letting me take the manuscript home, with the understanding that I would
take notes, make copies of the pictures and accompanying documents, and
use this information in lectures for the Magic Collector's Weekend in
Chicago. These lectures were given progressively in 1981, 1982, and
When Mr. Albright died,
his books and the Grace Thurston manuscript were sold to a collector in
northern New York. A list of these books and the manuscript were
distributed to a few collectors. and Phil Temple of California purchased
the manuscript, publishing it in 1985 under the title, "The Thurston
Scrapbook". However, the documents and photographs were not included
in that purchase.
Copies of these documents
include: 1) The letter Howard wrote to Grace's mother informing her of
their marriage plans; 2) A handbill advertising Thurston and Texola,
c1898, with a hidden letter on the back; 3) A photograph of Grace wearing a
large hat; 4) A photograph of Grace without a hat; 5) A photograph of
Howard; 6) A photograph of George white at nine years of age, with Howard
pulling a rabbit out of a man's coat collar; 7) Grace's German passport
dated 1901; and 8) A couple of rejection slips from international
publishing houses. Many of these items are included in this work and
are, for the first time, available to the magic fraternity.
In April of 1982 I spent
some time with the late Milbourne Christopher, well known magician, author
and collector or magical memorabilia, discussing the Grace Butterworth
Thurston manuscript. Milbourne had obtained, for his collection, a
number of letters between Mr. Thurston and Thomas Chew Worthington III, a
well known collector and Thurston fan from that era, and several letters
written by Grace. Our meeting took place in Chicago.
Concerning the Grace
Butterworth Thurston manuscript, my wife would ask me, "How do you know
this book is authentic, that it is not all a hoax?" In answer to
this logical question, I compared the letters, handbills, photographs, and
Grace's passport (from the trip to Germany in 1901) with Milbourne
Christopher's collection of the letters - written by Grace, Howard and Mr.
Worthington. They confirm many of the statements that Grace had made
in the manuscript. A tone point Milbourne Christopher asked, "Do
you know anything about the two-faced doll?" According to the
manuscript the doll had been given to Grace by Howard for the Christmas of
1897. I was able to confirm the existence of the doll, and many
other points, from the letters in the collection. Naturally I was
pleased about this.
So here it is; a step by
step, year by year study of the life and work of Howard Thurston, "The
World's Greatest Magician" of his era. We trust the reader will have
as much fun reading it as I had writing it, and it will be judged as the
definitive biography of this fascinating subject.
Robert E. Olson"