Litzka Raymond Gibson
Pearl "Perlitzka" Beatrice Gonser
May 11, 1996
Litzka Raymond Gibson performed as "The Great Litzka".
She married Maurice Raymond in 1927 after her first husband, a musician died. She was his assistant, as well as an act on her own as a magician and harpist. Photographs of Litzka posing with her card-trick-assisting rooster "China Boy" appears in the Wilfrid Jonson books, Magic Tricks (1949) and Card Tricks (1950).
After Raymond died, she married Walter B. Gibson in 1949 with whom she assisted in his writing and coauthored several books.
She was awarded a "Special Fellowship" from the Academy of Magical Arts in 1995 as was elected into the Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame
LITZKA RAYMOND GIBSON
Pearlitzka Gonser was born in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania on January 11, 1901 of German heritage. Her father was a Reformed minister and her mother taught music and voice so it followed that Litzka received early training in both of these fields.
Her interest in music prevailed and while her mother felt Litzka’s voice wasn't powerful enough for opera, she encouraged her participation in musical programs in church and school in her early life. She soon became known for her outstanding skill with the harp.
In 1918, while attending Emerson College in Boston she was approached by an agent who booked her for a season with Chautauqua, a traveling group that performed concerts and recitals in large tents among rural communities. Litzka, at 17, was paid $125 per week, a sum many times that earned by her father!
Later, Litzka studied at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels and appeared with the Boston Symphony and London Symphony orchestras and was known as the young "international harpiste".
Litzka had been giving concerts in England when The Great Raymond engaged her for a British and European tour in 1924. She enjoyed the traveling and the theatre so much that she willingly agreed to continue on the world tour. Litzka and Raymond were married on the "SS American Legion", seven miles out to sea off the coast of Montevideo, Uruguay.
All through South America, Litzka's harp solos were a feature of the -show, and she also performed in some of Raymond's principal illusions such as “Sawing a Woman in Half” and the "Substitution Trunk". Litzka took charge of setting up and checking the details before each performance, and because of this was very important' to Raymond who would prefer to be greeting the local dignitaries.
By late 1930 they returned to California and did a forty-week tour of the largest motion picture houses in America with a one-hour version of the full evening show. Thereafter, when the regular show resumed Litzka appeared in Chinese costume and performed a magic act of her own, which became a regular feature of the Raymond show.
Litzka would perform party magic on the side. She recalls having so many Christmas shows in one day that she was running late and had to set up in front of her audience. The children were so delighted chat she incorporated it into the act.
In order to revise Litzka's Chinese show, a bantam rooster named China Boy was purchased and Raymond caught it to perform with Litzka in her act.
The Great Raymond, who was 24 years older than Litzka, died on January 27, 1948 after a prolonged illness, thus separating a team that had performed magic in the grand style of years ago.
But Litzka's traveling days were not over yet. On August 27, 1949 she married Walter B. Gibson. And for the next 14 years she accompanied the great writer of "The Shadow" and ocher mystery and detective stories to many of the locations that became settings for his tales.
They finally settled down in upstate New York where, for the next 20 years they worked together writing and publishing many books on magic as well as a host of other subjects. "The Complete Illustrated Book of the Psychic Sciences" (now being reprinted) was coauthored by Walter and Litzka. Some of Litzka's books were "How to Read Palms", "Lessons in Palmistry", "Care of the Hair and Hairdos". Under the pen name of Leona Lehman, she wrote "Latin American Dances" and "Dancing for All Occasions".
Some of Walter Gibson's books were "Houdini Escapes", "Houdini's Magic", "Professional Magic for Amateurs", "Blackstone's Secrets of Magic", and "Thurston's 200 Tricks You Can Do". His other subjects included hypnotism, papercraft, knots, astrology, memory, card games and brain tests.
At the age of 88, Litzka Raymond Gibson is actively working on a number of literary projects. One of the most important of these is the story of her exciting and adventurous life with The Great Raymond, the magician, and Walter B. Gibson, the author and "man of Letters and Literature".
EDWIN E. FITCHETT
Al Baker Assembly #35