Free Trick for You: Don Timo’s Oh So Subtle Mystery

Thomas Hardy the III — son of great magician and inept mathematician, Thomas Hardy IV — was, as the British are keen to say, keen on helping the younger, newer, more fragile and feminine magicians find their footing.

Some have said this is simply a dressed up way of saying father was a cad and a shoe-fetishist.  Those who knew him best have publicly denounced this criticism but never under oath.

See, expert testimony of Harry Blackstone, Jr. in Commonwealth v. Hardy from 1968:

Q: “How well do you know Tom Hardy, aka Li’l Tom Hardy America’s Foremost Psychic Entertainer?”

A: (Mr. Blackstone) “I would say pretty well. He worked with my father’s show and later on mine.”

Q: “Is he a cad and a shoe-fetishist?”

A: (Mr. Blackstone) “‘Cad’ is such an ugly and anachronistic word.  I think he liked to help the younger, newer, more fragile and feminine magicians find their footing.”

Q: “Is that just another way of saying ‘He is a cad and a shoe-fetishist?”

A: “I don’t know.  I read it on his publicity poster, right under ‘America’s Foremost Psychic Entertainer.’


Q: “So while you would quibble with the term ‘Cad,’ you are in agreement with his shoe-fetish?”

A: “I do not have a shoe fetish.”


Q: “No, I mean, strike that.  Let me start over.  Does Mr. Hardy have a shoe fetish?”

A: “Again, I don’t mean to, as you say, quibble with terms but ‘fetish’ can have different meanings depending on the context.  For instance, it could be a psychological dependency upon an object; or, a magic charm; or, an item used in bizarre pseudo-religious or savage worship; or, of course, just looking to obsess, photograph, draw doodles of, buy expensive telescopes to see, shoes on young women.”

Q: “Mr. Blackstone, can you answer my question?”

A: “Well, I would have to answer, yes.”

Q: “Yes? Yes to which definition of shoe fetish you just gave?”

A: “I would say all of them.”

(Laughter and Rim Shot)

Q: “Your honor, I have no more questions.”

– tr. at vol III (testimony) pp 234:3 – 235:23.

Regardless, Li’l Tom Hardy had very few original effects.  Most were borrowed without attribution to other practicing magicians or mentalists he saw.

See, Kreskin v. Hardy (New Jersey 1972);  Mark Wilson v. Hardy (California 1974); Andre Kole v. Hardy (Arizona 1975); Estate of Joseph Dunninger v. Hardy (New York 1975); David Copperfield v. Hardy (New York 1976 – 1979); Estate of Kukla of Kukla, Fran & Ollie v. Hardy (Illinois 1978), and perhaps the most humiliating, The Masked Magician v. Hardy (California 1994)

There continues a great debate whether one of his more commercial tricks, Hardy’s Four-Card Out-of-This-World, was original or even a magic trick.   He always argued his was titled differently than Paul Curry’s as he used “dashes between the words.”

Max Maven reviewed it thusly :

Putatively based on Paul Curry’s classic, Out of This World, the effect is simple to describe: You hand a volunteer four playing cards; two reds and two blacks.  The volunteer is asked to mix them thoroughly and then deal each into one of two piles on the table; the desired result of the dealing leaves two cards in each pile.

You comment that the odds of the spectator correctly dealing the cards so that they are separated according to color are a ‘million to one.’

You now turn over the cards and they have indeed been separated correctly into the two piles according to their color.

Mr. Hardy points out in his brief half-page, mimeograph instructions, amidst the misspellings and malapropisms, ‘All though you tell the young, fragile, female volunteer that the odds are a million-to-one that she will have putt (sic) the two colors separately, the odds are more closer (sic) to ten-to-one.  All she will see, tho, is that she did the impossible trick. (sic x 4)

That will knock her back on her very sexy high-heeled patent leather pumps.’ (sic as in psychotic sicko)

Mr. Maven goes on to note the odds are actually fifty-fifty the volunteer will place the two red cards in one pile and blacks in the other.  He was unimpressed by father’s ‘out’ to be used when the piles each contain one red and one black card.

The ‘out’ read: “When you miss (or they miss?) the separation of the colors, you have a perfect out by saying, ‘Yes, the odds were a million-to-one you would correctly separate the four cards so precisely one of each color was in each card pile.”

Mr. Maven asked, “One hesitates to consider the separation of four cards into two face-down piles to be a magic trick.”

Despite this unfair and critical review, Li’l Tom Hardy sold tens of the trick in his career. “My target customer doesn’t read,” he said.

As someone wrote, “The past is prologue.”


We are proud to bring an updated version of one of Li’l Tom Hardy’s other tricks, Don Timoteo’s Oh So Subtle Mystery.

The effect as previously sold was printed on card stock to be read by the spectator on-stage.

Because the volunteer was asked to read the information on the cards silently and then inform the audience whether the trick worked, it had limited appeal. We decided to print it in a PDF format and remove it from the stage.

Dai Vernon observed, “It is more likely this is just a chance to get some girl up on stage to stare at while she is reading to herself.”

Indeed, as Kukla of Kukla, Fran & Ollie wrote:

He’s a sick man. The instructions read, ‘Pick some young (but not too young because you don’t want to go to jail even if you are eventually acquitted on a technicality) woman with very high-heels (either strappy or pumps will do) to read the cards.

If you can find one who has nice legs and well-defined calves, it will be even better.

Take pictures of her calves and shoes and send them to me.

Regardless, the effect has now been updated so that it need not be performed in front of an audience. You can forward the trick to your friends and they can read it at their own pace, on their own computer.

Li’l Tom took on the personality of a Spanish Lover, Don Timoteo (“Don Timo” for short, but not for long).

Some have purchased this routine for thousands of units of currency.  You will receive it free, as our gift.

As the mythical Don Timo says in the effect, share it with your friends or lovers. Please note, even though the text was updated to include a web site reference at the end, we left the old, offensive sexist language that made Li’l Tom Hardy such a household name.

Click the following link to download the PDF. You may use it as you desire. No copyright claims are made nor really ever desired for this masterful piece of work.

Click Here for Don Timo’s Oh So Subtle Mystery.

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