Alex Elmsley

I received an e-mail this morning passing on the very sad news of the death of one of magic’s – and specificaully card magic’s – most brilliant creators, Alex Elmsley. He died on Sunday from a heart attack.

Now I could sit here and type a mournful thing about how much he’ll be missed. Instead, here is a story that I posted on The Magic Cafe forum. I still smile every time I think of this story and I thought about it today – a lot.

I was in Kirkcaldy in Fife for the Scottish Association of Magical Societies convention that was taking place over a weekend. I had heard different stories about Mr Elmsley, including a few of his eccentricities. A few days before going to the convention, I was in Roy Walton’s shop in Glasgow and he told me that “Alex might be coming up for a few days.” Well, as I packed, I remembered what Roy had told me and duly packed the 2 massive L&L “Complete Works” books. They made my bag amazingly heavy (this was in the days before I had trolley cases!) but I made it through to Kirkcaldy. But there was no sign of Mr Elmsley on that Friday.

Saturday came and through the day, I attended the events I wanted to see while all the while watching the door and hoping that Mr Elmsley would walk into the room. Still nothing. I got ready to go to the Gala Show on the Saturday evening, only really wanting to see one act on the bill. As I made my way towards the theatre, I passed an old gentleman walking along the street carry 2 hold-alls – on in either hand. The face looked strangely familiar, though I knew I didn’t know the man from Adam. A few moments later, as I stood across the street from the theatre, it hit me like a baseball bat – carpet slippers!!! I had heard that Mr Elmsley wore carpet slippers pretty much all the time – even when outdoors – and the old man that I passed in the street was wearing carpet slippers! I had walked right past one of my magical idols! D’OH!!!

I could hardly sit still in the theatre and luckily for me, the act I wanted to see were closing the first half of the show. When they finished, I left the theatre and went back to the hotel so fast, my feet hardly touched the ground! When I arrived, sitting there in the bar of the hotel chatting with some of my friends was Alex Elmsley. I was introduced to Mr Elmsley and will forever cherish the few ccasions I had to sit and talk with a true genius. I cherish my signed “Collected Works” books all the more now that he is no longer with us.

That last sentence isn’t strictly true as Mr Elmsley will always be with us – through his books, his videos and DVDs and through his remarkable magic. He can never and will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace, Mr Elmsley, and thank you for everything.

The Cardman 🙁

1 thought on “Alex Elmsley”

  1. I had the \”privilege\” of working with Alex for 6-10 years and I knew he was excellent at magic and had invented tricks – butI did not realise he was this good! He worked in the same team as me lecturing for an English comuter company in Old Windsor. He taught me most of what I knew before I was launched onto the public! Alex and the whole team became great drinking buddies on Friday afternoons when work was over for the week. Normally then he would perform a few \”close-up\” magic tricks – INCREDIBLE!!! There was one in particular I remember where he fanned a deck of cards faces out to us and asked a colleague to \”touch\” one. He then fanned the deck shut and handed it to her saying \”please shuffle well\”! She did, and handed the pack back to Alex who dropped it and of course all the cards fell face down – except the one she had touched!. We all roared \”DO THAT AGAIN ALEX OR YOU ARE TOAST\”!! Alex just shrugged and said \”No – it may not work a second time!\”. That was Alex…

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