Wand - Jim Reilly GMM
Wand Jim Reilly GMM
passed away peacefully at 11pm last night.
details to follow about his funeral arrangement.
Jim Reilly wasn't well known in the magic community until
the 1960-61 Hamilton magicians' convention, when he appeared
on the bill of the Night Before show. He had created a Turkish-themed
theatrical event filled with colour, humour and magic. After
this his name began appearing in Magicana magazine in connection
with his activities in Kawerau but it wasn't until the 1964
convention in Wellington that his act was to resurface. Several
effects, such as the ribbon fountain he used for a finale,
were new to New Zealand magicians at the time and were very
Jim had joined the Waikato Society of Magicians in 1959 and
was good friends with Eddie Ware. He became involved with
a musical theatre group in 1960 and starred as a magician
in their production of Sinbad.
By 1964 he was assisting Magicana Editor Colin Smith with
material for publication.
In 1968 he moved to Hamilton and was Secretary for the 1970-1971
magicians' convention, which broke new ground with monetary
prizes for main competitions, an attractive poster for advertising
the event, close-up tables for the early risers, creche and
Jim had his own style of performance and created many of his
own props. These were shared with magicians worldwide though
magazines like Magigram, Pentagram and New Tops. His creations
also appeared in Adair's Dove Encylopedias, The Best From
Down Under and Francis Marshall's Book on Children's Parties.
He became a world authority and supplier of the novelty paper
folding act Troublewit. Billy McComb called Jim's Troublewit
the best in the business.
In 1980 Jim took over as the Editor of Magicana from the departing
Colin Smith. The Waikato Magic Circle had divested itself
of any interest some years before and Colin had been carrying
the risk and debts on his own. Over the next twenty years
Magicana grew from strength to strength, growing from around
50 subscribers to 250, a third of whom were overseas readers.
He was able to draw on his experience as an employee of INL
- Independent Newspapers Limited - and substantially improved
the professionalism and content of the bi-monthly publication.
Jim also boasted that he was never once late in producing
or twelve years Jim, with the assistance of wife Pam, organised
and ran the annual Magicana Day in Hamilton - a mini-convention
featuring competitions, lecturers and dealers.
In 1984 he was awarded a Scroll of Honour from the Variety
Artists Club of New Zealand in recognition of his work as
Editor of Magicana. He was made an Associate Member of the
Magic Circle with Silver Star in 1987.
The same year he was caught off-guard at Magicana Day when
the Brotherhood of Auckland Magicians presented him with the
Grand Master Award, presented on behalf of New Zealand magicians
to recognise his dedication and contribution to magic in this
In 1996 the Magic Circle elevated him to their highest degree
- Member of the Inner Circle with Gold Star. Members who helped
make this possible were Rovi, Billy McComb and Terry Seabrooke.
In 1989 Jim began researching the history of magic in New
Zealand. He shared his fascinating insights in a long series
in Magicana. The work was highly praised overseas as at that
time little was known about the early history of magic in
this country. He found New Zealand's first professional magician
- Jane Whiteside, and wrote a monograph on her entitled Darling
Then came Same Man, Different Clothes, the Life and Times
of The Great Benyon. This publication received worldwide recognition.
Jim Reilly finally hung up his editorial pen in 2000, after
twenty years of service as Editor of Magicana (and sixteen
as Assistant Editor). His work was sorely missed.
In 2003 Hollywood's Academy of Magical Arts presented him
with their prestigious Literary Fellowship.