Val Andrews 1926 - 2006
Remembered by Allen Tipton
It was a great shock to learn that Val had died from a heart attack on Thursday 12th December. I had last spoken to him about 3 weeks before.
Born on the 15th February in Hove, just a few hours after Valentine's Day hence the name Val., he was introduced to magic at the age of 5, by his father who’d leant a few tricks from Frank Van Hoven (The man who made ice famous) on a voyage to Canada.
Family financial difficulties prompted a move, in 1934, to Kemptown, Brighton, where the young Val, already an entertainer, was exposed to all the fun of the seaside, with its Concert Parties, the Circus, and the Hippodrome and Theatre Royal. All the great performers of the day worked there and he saw Dante 3 times and The Great Carmo amongst others. Little did he realise then he was to write with a number of others, their first biographies.
Admiration for Arthur Prince, the leading vent of his day, inspired him to purchase a 'Charlie McCarthy' doll, putting him on the road to being a vent himself. As time rolled by he performed as The Great Valentine, then as Bronco, because the famous toilet paper provided his headed notepaper, and finally as Val Vox the Magical Raconteur.
In 1943 he moved to London; the ideal city for a young professional. Called up for the Army, he was surprisingly turned down (although fit) on medical grounds. So under the name of Vanson he entertained the troops in Stage Door Canteen, played tiny villages and hamlets with a fit up full length Magic, Vent. and Variety Show.
In London he joined the LSM, became friendly with Will Goldston, the author and dealer, the legendary George Davenport, and later Bobby Bernard, Al Koran and Fergus Roy amongst other magic notables. By this time he was The Mysterious Vanson with his 20 Sensational Illusions, the largest of which was his Target Girl.
In 1949 he realised that having written all his own material for years he could script for others and these included Saveen, the vent. and a young Tommy Cooper.
In 1957 he married a nice girl called Doreen, bought a run-down timber bungalow in Essex, which he later re-mortgaged to save his mother’s business. Working from home he performed, wrote scripts and books for magicians, drew cartoons and illustrations, demonstrated Svengali decks in Selfridges and Blackpool, became Entertainments manager on the Isle of Wight and became a Dad to a delightful baby girl, named Christie, on whom he doted.
By now he had stayed with Murray, worked in Ireland, and managed Tommy Cooper’s tiny shop, on Shaftsbury Ave., following in Alan Alan’s footsteps.
Tragedy struck in 1968 when 8-year-old Christine was run over by a car and died. The next 2 years went by in a hard grafting trance and eventually his wife left.
Recovering, he moved into a flat with his close lady friend, Terri Rogers, the vent, and began writing biographies of famous magicians. Dante, Murray, Will Goldston, Horace Goldin, Carmo, Kalanag and Chung Ling Soo. The latter, thanks to Goodliffe had nearly 50 colour plates of Soo’s posters in it. There were also mini biogs of Chefalo and Lyle, hundreds of contributions to Abra., Magigram and other magazines.
Then thanks to Martin Breese, he began writing new Sherlock Holmes stories often touching magic. There were broadcasts, American and UK Society lectures; 3 times to our Nottingham Guild. He stayed with my wife and I and we were spellbound by his theatre and magic tales for days.
The Magic Castle awarded him their literary prize, of which he was very proud. Terri Rogers died and Val moved into a mobile home in Waltham Forest, selling many of his books and apparatus. We spoke on the phone quite frequently. He first wrote to me in 1979, giving valuable advice on my planned Dante Tribute Show; later again advice on my Kalanag lecture. I still have all his letters and once joked with him that one day I would publish the Val Andrews Untold Tales.
Val was a quiet, extremely kind, sensitive, talented man with a very retentive memory and an encyclopedic knowledge of magic which he shared with everyone. My wife and I will miss a very dear friend and always remember him with love, great respect and gratitude as we hope the Magic World will as well.
Allen Tipton, 2006