Dedicated to the memory of Milt Kort (1917 – 2003)
Just a few weeks after Milt kindly visited these forums to provide this wealth of knowledge, he very sadly passed away. The following eight pages are dedicated to the memory of Milt as a small token of appreciation from this community of magicians. You will find a closed book of condolences on the last of these eight pages.
It is with great pleasure, pomp and circumstance that I
welcome our guest speaker for this month, Milt Kort. The only thing
that separates this man from the giants that we all know,
like Dai Vernon et. al. is the fact that Kort is a quiet giant
of the industry. However, anyone who's paid attention over
Mr. Kort's biography is up in the library, so he needs
very little introduction here. Just quickly, Kort has contributed
to most of the trade magazines of the 20th century and
his name can be found liberally scattered throughout the
entirety of Bobo's "Modern Coin Magic.." Aside
from that, Kort has three books published, one by Stephen
Minch in particular is reviewed in our reviews forum.
This, just as with the Ron Bauer guest spot, is a Magic Bunny
exclusive. As such, I'd like to say a special thank you
to Mr. Kort for joining us for the week. It is a great priveledge
and honor to have you with us this week, sir.
Also, a special thank you to Ron Bauer who encouraged Kort
to do this and to Sandra Kort (Milt's daughter, just in
case you couldn't figure that out) for taking the time to
be Kort's secretary for this week - she'll be doing the
So, the forum is open, let the questions begin...
I'd like to add my thanks to Milt for taking time off his
busy schedule and visiting these forums. I know that our members
and myself are going to gain a great deal from this visit.
Thank you so much Milt.
Considering all of the things that you've done or contributed
to over the years, what do you feel is your greatest achievement
in the magic industry and what particular contribution do
you hold most dear?
I’d have to say that I’m very pleased that I’ve been able
help kids and adults alike learn magic, the greatest hobby
in the world!
As far as achievement, I would say that would be lecturing
at the Magic Circle in the late 1960’s and being told that
I drew the largest attendance up to that time for a guest
One of my favorite stories of you, Kort, is the one about
the free ring with every purchase at Sterling's shop. Would
you care to share your favorite practical joke with us?
You might be interested in these…
In 1946 I was able to attend the Abbott’s convention in Michigan
and we found out that Ed Marlo was going to be there. And,
as Ed Marlo had never gone to an Abbott’s get together, this
was a big event. So, Stewart James, Stewart’s cousin, myself,
and a couple others decided to play a joke on Ed. We arranged
between ourselves and other magicians that I was going to
be the card star, as Ed had never seen me work. I was going
to perform the greatest card tricks in the world, physically
selected cards or mentally selected cards and no matter what
card I turned over it was going to be the selected card (even
though it wasn’t). Picture this, a ring of magicians and I
was in the center. We were doing every day tricks. Someone
said, Marlo’s here. He was standing in the rear of the outer
ring. And then I started in. We did things such as this… I
would ask for the loan of a normal deck, and I’d have someone
think of a number and then ask him to look from the face of
the deck or the back of the deck… count down to that number
and remember the card at that position.. He would do this.
And I would tell him to reshuffle the deck and to give it
back to me. Then I would shuffle the deck myself and the first
time I would ask for the number he thought of. When it was
given to me I would count down very openly to that number
and I would say “There Sir is your card!” This would be met
by gasps of astonishments and words that can’t be used. We
went on like this, for instance, I would ask someone to take
the deck and allow someone else to select the card. He would
then hand the deck to someone else and the person who selected
the card would insert it into the deck. He would hand the
deck to someone else to shuffle. Then I would take the deck
back. I did not shuffle it. I would just riffle the end and
say stop. I would pick up the top half and show the bottom
card and say there sir, is that your card? Every time I would
do this Marlo would work his way closer to the inner circle
until he got to the very front. At that point I took the deck
and said, “That’s it, fellows.. Whose deck?” I retruned the
deck. I started to go and Marlo said “That’s nice work.” And
I said “Thank you, Sir” and walked away.
Later on Marlo invited Stewart James and myself and Stewart’s
cousin to his cottage. Marlo sat down and started doing the
latest thing, riffle shuffle controls. For about half hour
he sat there and I was trying to not let the green glow too
much I was so jealous of what he was doing. Then finally he
stopped and pushed the cards away from the table and leaned
back in his chair and looked at me. I looked at him and I
said, “Is that all?” Stewart though Ed was going to jump over
the table and kill me!
Here’s another amusing thing that happened at that convention..
We approached a group of people. Stewart James said, “that’s
Ross Bertram, you wanted to meet him.” I walked up to him
and said, “Mr. Bertram, would you do me a trick?” He looked
at me and smiled and said “later.” Every time I saw him, I
would ask the same question and always the same answer, “later.”
Comes the end of the convention and we were saying good bye
to every body and Ross looked at me and said “Kort, how about
doing a trick for me?” And I smiled nicely and said “later”
and turned around and walked away, leaving his cohorts laughing.