Harry Monti, master of magic
By: Sheila Frayne Rhoades
From: Newsmagazine Network.com
Posted: 03/04/14 1:38 pm / no comments
Manchester resident and magician Harry Monti, 78, often is referred to as “St. Louis’ godfather of magic.”
Born Harry Monteith, Monti is well known in the world of magic as a stage and close-up magician, escape artist and creator of magic props, and for his vast knowledge of magic history. He has mastered hundreds of tricks and has enjoyed an amazing career.
Monti said his interest in magic began at the age of 6 when he learned a trick from a comic book.
“I eventually discovered real magic shops, practiced and joined magic clubs,” he explained.
As a teen, Monti saw his idol, Harry Blackstone, Sr., never realizing that years later he would become a colleague of the great magician.
Monti attended Washington University and after a few years in the Air Force started working in the engineering department at Alco Controls Company, where he later became advertising manager and met his wife, Trudy. While employed at Alco, and later at the C.V. Mosby Company, he sidelined as a night and weekend magician, working all types of venues. His magic career took off, and he appeared on local TV shows, including Ernie Heldman’s “Parade of Magic” and “The Charlotte Peters Show.” Monti even appeared on Regis Philbin’s TV show, performing Houdini-type escapes.
Last November, Monti set a 50-year record when he performed at Hollywood’s Magic Castle, a Mecca for magicians.
“Harry Monti is the only person who has performed 50 consecutive years since the Magic Castle opened,” said Eureka resident Randy Kalin, the local president of the Society of American Magicians. “He has mentored many famous names from St. Louis, like Chris Kenner, David Copperfield’s technical assistant; Justin Willman, of the Cupcake Wars; and Chris Korn, who has his own television magic specials.
“Additionally, he’s worked with Las Vegas magic star Lance Burton. Harry and his wife have traveled from China to Las Vegas, from England to Hollywood. Harry has done it all – performed, lectured and mentored magicians.”
As chairman of the Midwest Magic Jubilee, Monti produced annual magic conventions in St. Louis for many years. He is an active member the International Brotherhood of Magicians and of the S.A.M. (Society of American Magicians).
To help aspiring magicians, Monti and his wife formed The Harry and Trudy Monti College Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to young magicians, and established the Magic for Special Education program to teach those with special needs how to perform magic.
Monti still occasionally gives private performances.
“I love seeing their smiling faces,” he said.