THIS TOKEN AND ALL OTHERS ARE FROM THE
EX- WALTER GRAHAM COLLECTION
The Willard the Wizard name was famous, even before Harry Francis Willard was born in Clarksville, Texas in 1895 — the very year, Harry’s father, Jim Willard, starting trekking his outdoor magic theater through the state. By the mid-1910s, Harry’s older brothers, Robert and Tommy, were traveling with canvas units of a Willard the Wizard show. And well before 1919, Harry had completely taken over his father’s grand tent show. Greatly influenced by the classic style of Fredrick Eugene Powell, first Dean of the Society of American Magicians, Willard modeled his show after Powell. Though the depression years, the show played to packed tents, often exchanging admissions for chickens, baskets of eggs, and fresh produce. Harry’s father, Jim Willard died in 1936. The Willard show continued to travel through Texas and Louisiana, and as far north as Arkansas and Oklahoma, carrying over 30 people and 17 trucks of mysteries. When the Wizard came to town, he promoted and presented three completely different two-hour shows in a week. After World War II, health problems and financial hardships forced Harry to disappear from the outdoor scene. In 1952, the tent went into storage — Willard never again toured under canvas. All seven of Harry’s children, at one time or another, trouped with their father. However, only Frances Louise Willard (who shares a December 12 birthday with her father) continued to pursue performance magic. During the late ’50s, Willard staged a comeback. With Frances, he played auditoriums, theaters, and several magic conventions, all in the South. At age 74, Harry Willard died June 28, 1970 in San Antonio, Texas.