Harry Blackstone Sr.
Suzy Wandas Bennett
Percy Abbott (1886 – 1960)
Prior to becoming an established brand name in the magic world, Percy Abbott was an Australian vaudeville performer. In 1927, at the invitation of his friend, Harry Blackstone, Abbott traveled to Colon, Michigan to partake in fishing and summer fun. Blackstone was known to have given open invitations to many of his contemporaries to summer on Blackstone Island. During his stay in Colon that summer a conversation led he and Blackstone to decide to go into business together. They would create a company to supply tricks to other magicians and called it the Blackstone Magic Company.
The pair’s complementary skill sets helped address the needs of the business. Blackstone, being a fraternal and successful professional magician, would be the external face of the Company – the salesman, the promoter, the ambassador of goodwill. Percy Abbott would assume the role of the inside man. He would work in Colon to produce the tricks, manage the mail order business, and oversee the financial records. The venture launched in 1929.
While this magic company paved the way for the famous Abbott’s Magic Company that is known today, the Blackstone and Abbott partnership lasted only about 18 months. A former resident of Colon and a mutual friend to both Blackstone and Abbott provided this account on the dissolution of the company to Robert Lund:
“Harry came in off the road and went up to see Percy. They had a combination office, factory, mail order department and modest living quarters for Percy in an office building. Blackstone asked Percy how much money they had made. Percy said they made nothing or less than nothing, meaning they had gone into debt. They had a terrible row until Harry got a grip on Percy and pitched him down the steps.”
Percy Abbott could not afford to stay in a rural village without work, so, like his former partner, he hit the road to perform. Abbott’s time on the road included a stint at Coney Island, New York where his earnings were so small that he was forced to trade one of his illusions for the set of car tires he needed to get back Michigan. Why would Percy Abbott go back to Michigan? It wasn’t for the magic business, but for a Colon resident named Gladys Goodrich. When Abbott returned to Colon, he married Goodrich and she became his assistant in his act. The newlyweds set off on the road together, performing at schools, small movie houses, and carnivals. By 1934, life on the road lost its appeal to the couple and they decided to take up permanent residence in Colon. To support their life in Colon, Abbott revisited the idea of the mail order magic business and Abbott’s Magic Company was created.
Percy Abbott would become the namesake not only of a renowned magic company, but also of an international event. in 1935, Abbott initiated the annual event known as Abbott’s “Magic Get Together.” The Get Togethers grew over the years until more than 1,000 attendees and performers came to Colon for the event. Being such a small community, Colon had no hotels and few restaurants for Get Together participants, so hospitality for the visitors fell to Colon’s residents. Townspeople rented out rooms, organizations served meals, and everyone attended performances in the Hill’s Opera House, school buildings, and temporary tent structures. The Get Together celebrated its seventy-fifth year in 2012 and each August magicians, magic fans, and children of all ages visit Colon to reconnect with the magic community, acquire new equipment, practice magic, and attend performances.
In 1959, Percy Abbott sold his share of Abbott Magic Company to his partner, Recil Bordner and went into retirement. On the 26th of August 1960, Percy Abbott died from a heart attack at the age of 74.