Give’em What They Want By Gosh!

Albert Goshman - Publicity photo

In my last blog I wrote about  images  that the word magician conjures up in our mind’s eye. But magicians come in all shapes and sizes.

When Perfect Magic opened in 1977 I heard a lot of talk about Albert Goshman.  He was a baker in Brooklyn, making bagels. I’m sure they weren’t Montreal bagels but that’s another story.

Remember, this was before videos or DVDs. Either you saw the man in person at a lecture or convention or read about him in a magic magazine. His Salt Shaker Routine is legendary. I had  dealt with Albert personally over the phone many times when ordering his famous Sponge Balls, as well as other Magic By Gosh products which are known world over, but I had never met him. He was a living legend. A master of close-up magic.

Albert Goshman with Volunteers Anne Deslauriers (left) and Susan Trott (right)

Same gang

I don’t remember whose convention Phil and I were attending or where  it was held but we were walking though the dealers’ room and Phil said to me, “There’s Albert Goshman!” Not what I expected. I saw a chubby middle aged man asleep in a chair beside his booth, his chin against his chest. I must admit it was a disappointment. But of course when one is sleeping it’s hard to see the twinkle in the eyes,  the charm and sense of humour. And he did have a sense of humour, not to mention a sense of timing. Anyone who phoned him will remember his answering machine. His timing was so great he had you carrying on a conversation with it thinking you were talking to him. I don’t remember exactly but it went something like this,

“Hello.” (pause)

Hi, Albert?”

Hello? (pause)

Is that Albert?

Yeah, Who is this? (pause)

Evy Matlin

Oh, well. I can’t come to the phone right now….I’ll call you back. Leave a number.

It was longer than that but I can’t remember it all. He had you going until he actually said, I can’t come to the phone right now.

Albert was at our annual Magic Convention, Magie Montreal, twice I think.  His name appears on 2 programs but Phil only remembers once and he was at Perfect Magic for a lecture. That we know for sure because I was one of the volunteers for the Salt and Pepper Shaker routine and I, who rarely gets fooled was fooled badly. When he produced that final jumbo coin from under the salt shaker I was in a state of shock.

And then he did a funny thing.

Totally unrelated to his act, he pulled out a deck of cards and as his finale he did a rising card out of  a glass trick. That was the end of his show. Later on in the evening, at home, I asked him why he did that. With all his talent he ended with a store bought trick. Why?  His answer. “Because its such a wonderful effect. I’m usually performing for a lay audience. They’ve never seen anything like it and in years to come they’ll forget all about the Salt Shaker but they’ll never forget that the card they chose rose out of a deck of cards in a glass all by itself. You gotta give them something they’ll remember!”

We took him to the Brown Derby in the Van Horne Shopping center. It was a popular Deli which is no longer there. No one got service when he was there as all the waitresses and waiters were huddled around our table, and some of the customers as well. He was doing the sponge balls over and over and using different methods. They never caught him. Neither did I. When the meal was over the waitress asked him how the food was. “Well, there was a lot of it and some of it was good!”  Anyone who’s eaten there will vouch for that! We sure miss him and cherish the memories!


Filed under Magic, Magic Conventions, Magie Montreal

4 responses to “Give’em What They Want By Gosh!

  1. Got any video of the salt shaker routine? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it…


  2. Grant

    Great post! I’m really enjoying the blog. I hadn’t seen the saltshakers until a few days ago when someone pointed me towards these videos:

    According to some people who saw him live, this performance is a little off due to the language barrier, but it’s still great to watch him work.


    • It’s more than a little off. He was really something to see, but you get the idea anyhow.


    • Grant, it is unfortuante that Goshman passed away before videos were popular. Also he was from a different generation and not really up on technology. There is very little of Goshman on video when he was in his prime. Even the video he did of his lecture was done late and he was very good, but for those of us who new him know it wasn’t albert at his best. He also added a few items on that video that were not generally part of the act, but stiff he did in his lectures as “additional material”. The best one I’ve seen is his London Lecture. ( I don’t think he was even aware that it was being filmed. I feel very fortunate and priviledged to have been a very good friend of his. We spent a lot of time together at conventions and in Montreal, NYC etc. I saw the act so many times I can still remember all the lines and I still enjoy it every time I watch him. There are only a small handful of magcicians I can say this about. To say I miis him is a gross understatement.


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