He may not have been known in the Las Vegas cohab and he never performed for a crowd larger than family and friends, but Jim Quinlan was a giant in magic.
He passed away recently but his impact on magic was profound – to us.
Our father was kind, accompanied always with an easy smile and receptive spirit. He made friends easily and was loyal to those friends to the end.
As a father, he was also a great teacher and inspiration to our magic career. Our first effect we performed was acquired by him from a magic shop in our hometown of Oak Park, Illinois. He brought us the Ball and Vase, performed it for us, amazed us, and taught us to perform it.
We brought it to our first grade class the following day and performed it perhaps ten times before our teacher took it and locked it securely in her desk drawer.
We were hooked. We had drawn crowds of first graders with the trick and felt the special sensations that accompany performing magic. If there is a magic bug, its sting was felt that day.
We got the trick back and spent hours on the playground after school performing the Ball and Vase for those unfortunate souls who were not in attendance at our morning show.
As we walked home, we performed it for strangers on the sidewalks, the construction workers on the main boulevard leading to our home street, and of course for our mother — it was not our first performance for her of the new trick. She was instrumental in our beta testing of the effect the night before.
And when our father returned from work, we performed it again and told him of the day’s events.
In the days, weeks, months and years that followed, our father encouraged our pursuit of the art. We learned that his mother had performed in vaudeville and we took pride in our theatrical lineage.
Our father would provide great insight on the performance of magic, the presentation of our magician personality, and essential rules for taking a stage and exiting gracefully.
A few years later, he purchased Stratospheres for us and launched our career (nascent still) on the real stage.
He was proud of our sleight of hand skills and would often ask us to perform for his friends and co-workers. We were so proud and delighted that our father would ask us to perform.
As we matured in the art and in life, he was always supportive and interested in what and how we were performing. He was big on rehearsing one’s act. We were not. But, we’ve learned, he was right.
Our father’s passing came quickly and with a devastating impact. It is still difficult to think about or discuss. We remember him as young, vibrant and out-going. He would play basketball with us until there was insufficient light to see the ball being shot or passed.
Time passed so quickly and we knew the time would come that he would no longer be with us in a physical sense. We miss him terribly.