Griffith was born in Romford, Essex. Today he lives in Bristol and has
been married to his wife Judith for 40 years. They have two children, a
son who is a Fashion Designer working for the fashion house Mulberry, and
a daughter who is an Occupational Therapist, married with two young
Like many of his contemporaries his first contact with magic was through
The Boys’ Magic Service in Prestatyn, North Wales. He would save
his pocket money to purchase the magical wonders advertised in their
National Service was spent in the R.A.F mostly at R.A.F Innsworth,
Gloucester. Here he had his first contact with a magician by the name of
Barry Foster, a lad from Sheffield. Barry taught Tony his Linking Ring
routine, which, much later was to be superseded by Dai Vernon’s
Symphony of The Rings. Occasional visits were made to shows put on by
the Cotswold Magical Society. Serle Taunt and Johnny Hayward were names of
magicians who were prominent in those shows; the first, a very good
Chinese act and the latter a lovely manipulation artiste. By a strange
co-incidence Tony and Barry found themselves standing near each other in
the foyer of the Floral Hall Theatre at a recent I.B.M. Convention in
Southport; their first contact in nearly 50 years.
On leaving the R.A.F. in 1954 Tony joined the Bristol Society of Magic and
is still a member today.
Membership of The Bath Circle of Magicians, The British Ring 25 of the
I.B.M and The Magic Circle soon followed. He was awarded his M.I.M.C
Degree by the President of The Magic Circle in January 1982.
In the early 90’s Tony and a few other colleagues formed The Weston
Wizards. This is a small group of seven enthusiasts who meet each month in
a member’s home in Weston - Super-Mare. There are no rules or officers and
the object is simply to discuss and do ‘magic.’ Due to the intimate nature
of the group they are able to concentrate more on the presentation and
construction of routines - something that cannot really be done in a
larger society. When a visiting overseas magician is in the area, they
expand their group to take in the lecture.
During his early years in magic Tony’s knowledge and ability grew thanks
to the help and interchange of ideas he received from members of the local
magic clubs. He joined a concert party performing his magic in all types
of venues. This was very good grounding in learning all about stage
technique and presentation. At this time he was presenting a mind reading
He ventured into entertaining children and this continued from around 1960
until 1993 when he decided to change direction. He took part in a TV
programme for deaf children Hand In Hand in 1987. This was an HTV
production and 10 shows were recorded. The magic presented in his
children's’ show was not that of the traditional children's’ magician.. In
the main, it consisted of visual items more usually associated with the
adult entertainer BUT it contained all those bits of business so loved by
children. Working from a large black attaché case placed upon a
collapsible white Servowagon Tea Trolley it looked very professional. The
magic was colourful, and the end of the show was signalled with the
display of a large 36“ ‘Good Bye’ silk coupled with a 6’ giant flagstaff.
This was what many called a golden era of magic. There was Harry Stanley’s
Unique Magic Studio with the well known magicians he brought to these
shores. He was backed by the brilliant magic of Ken Brooke, supported by
the writing of Lewis Ganson, both in the form of the GEN magazine and his
many book publications. It was a world where such names like David Nixon,
Al Koran, Fred Kaps, Channing Pollock, Johnny Hart , Marconick, Maurice
Fogel, Chan Canasta , Robert Harbin, David Berglas, Dai Vernon, Slydini,
Al Goshman were to the fore. It also marked the advent of another magic
dealer who would make his name on the magic scene - one Edwin Hooper and
The Supreme Magic Company. It was a great time to inhale and absorb the
ideas that were all around and Tony found it very stimulating.
It was during this period that Tony turned his attention more and more to
Close Up Magic and started giving lectures to magic clubs. One such an
occasion , at a Supreme Magic ‘Day, ’ prompted Edwin to suggest to Tony
that he write a book on his card magic ideas and that he would publish it.
Thus was born Griff On Cards (1964) followed by Griff On
Close-Up (1967) and An Invitation To Mystery (1969).
It was Edwin who also suggested to Tony that he undertake a lecture tour
of the U.S.A. and promptly put him in touch with Emil Loew and his
Magician’s Lecture Service in New York. His first lecture tour took place
in the summer of 1969.
Club lectures were presented in New York, Chicago, Peoria, New Orleans,
Houston and Denver. Included in this trip were lectures and shows at the
three major conventions in the U.S.A:- The S.A.M convention in Kansas
City, the P.C.A.M in San Jose and the I.B.M. convention in Cincinnati. The
highlight of the latter convention was appearing on the after banquet show
with Norman Neilsen who made a dramatic entry. As he entered from the rear
of the banquet hall and made his way to the stage, a single spotlight lit
up his face in the otherwise darkened hall. Coupled with the appropriate
music it was a sensational way to enter the ‘performing arena.’ It was an
applause rousing cue.
The final week of the tour was a week at The Magic Castle in Hollywood. He
was picked up at the airport by Bill Larsen, proprietor of The Castle and
Editor of the GENII magazine. Then on to a dinner party at Bill’s home.
Without any warning Tony found himself in the company of Slydini, Dai
Vernon, Channing Pollock, Kuda Bux, Al Goshman, Gerald Kosky, Jay Marshall
and Senator Crandall. In such prestigious company he decided to keep
silent and just listen with awe and wonder at the yarns they were spinning
and the tricks they were doing.
During this week Tony was able to spend some time with Dai Vernon and
learn at the feet of the master. The Professor (as he was called) came to
see Tony’s show three times and on the final night presented him with a
letter which to this day he very much cherishes. It said “I compliment
you for your splendid performances in The Magic Castle. Your engaging
manner and pleasing delivery of well chosen words thoroughly entertained
your audience. With many onlookers already satiated with card tricks it is
not easy to hold them enthralled as you did. I congratulate you. My only
wish is that more of the present day Wonder Workers could present their
effects with such charm.”
An interesting story about the Professor, which Tony witnessed at first
hand was that if someone showed him a trick that he didn’t quite
understand, he would call over his friend Larry Jennings, and in his high
pitched voice say something like “Hey Larry, come and have a look at
this.” He would then ask the performer to do the trick again, so that his
friend could see it. This would then enable the Professor to see the item
a second time without seeming to lose face.
Tony has since made some nineteen visits to the U.S.A on lecture tours (
magic clubs plus such conventions as Abbotts, Winter Carnival of Magic,
the I.B.M in Washington and the P.C.A.M. again in San Jose) , plus five
further visits to the Magic Castle. In 1996 he gave his 100th performance
at this mecca of magic.
During most of this period Tony had a variety of real day jobs. He was an
Education Welfare Officer for a time, then a Child Care Officer (dealing
with children in care). He went to teacher training college and taught for
17 years in primary schools, ending up as Head Teacher (Principal) of
Pensford County Primary School in Bristol.
Tony has always been interested and active in sport, in particular the
English game of Cricket. To further his teaching career he studied for,
and was awarded the MCC Cricket Coaching Certificate and was thrilled to
receive it from the world famous West Indian Cricketer Sir Garfield
Sobers. He also trained and obtained his Soccer Referee’s qualification
Tony left the teaching profession in 1986 to take up his hobby on a full
time basis. To quote one article about him in The Magic Circular, it was
…………… from teacher to thaumaturgist.
Since then he has moved on at a rapid pace. Apart from visiting the
U.S.A/Canada he has undertaken lecture tours to Australia/New Zealand
(three times) France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark and various
venues in Europe and the U.K.
He has written articles for a whole variety of magic magazines such as
The Gen, Magigram, New Tops, The Magic Circular, Abracadabra, Magicana,
Genii and The Linking Ring. Tony has appeared on the front
covers of Abracadabra (July 1976) Genii (September 1978)
The New Tops (May 1981) and The Linking Ring (August 1997) His
One Man Parade appeared in that same issue of the Linking Ring and his
Pseudo Psychometry routine was awarded the Howard Bamman trophy for the
best trick published in The Linking Ring for the year 2000. Many of Tony’s
current ideas can be found in his 78 page set of lecture notes. He also
manufactures a number of his own creations.
Not content with presenting magic lectures Tony has a lot of experience in
performing for the general public. He has had a number of residencies in
hotels and restaurants presenting his own brand of Close Up Magic. His
services have been sought after by some of the major companies and hotel
chains in the UK. He has a number of clients who continually book him for
their private parties. Organisations such as Sun Life, Friends Provident,
Falmer Jeans, Anglian Windows, Honda, Amtrax Express Parcels and Elo Touch
Systems are just some of the companies who have used his magic to promote
their products and services at trade show exhibitions.
With 17 years teaching experience behind him Tony instigated his Magic
of Science show for schools, and since its inception has visited over
600 primary schools (many of them several times) throughout the U.K. The
show has also been presented at The Science Museum in London, various
science centers and science festivals in different parts of the country.
The Magic of Science is a show that demonstrates to children simple
practical ideas in science that they can try for themselves. It is a
learning experience. The ideas shown are designed to encourage the
development of a variety of skills, which can be followed up as a special
project or slotted into the curriculum. The aim of the show is to enable
children to see that science can be fun. Although no magic is performed in
the show, Tony uses his experience in the entertainment world coupled with
that in education to provide an entertaining and educational presentation.
has also written in the education world and his book Science Fun
was published by Scholastic Publications in 1991 with a second edition in
1992. A further edition was produced for German readers in 1993. Some of
his other ideas can be found in a booklet he has put together for
teachers, aptly named The Magic of Science.
When entertaining children always be ready for the unexpected. At one
school Tony visited he was showing the children how to do some siphoning .
As he was doing it a little voice called out “That’s how my dad nicks
(steals) petrol.” The teacher nearly fell off her seat.
In the early ‘90s Tony received a communication from Daryl (Martinez)
enquiring about lecturing in the U.K. The outcome of this was that he
organised a 20+ lecture venue tour of these islands. This was so
successful that word got around and soon other overseas lecturers were
getting in touch
During the last 14 years Tony has organised extensive lecture tours of the
British Isles for Daryl ( 3 tours), Harvey Berg, Kirk Charles, Paul
Harris, Joe Givan, Doc Eason, Harry Allen, Jorg Willich, Jon LeClair, Dan
Garrett, Steve Beam (3 tours), Jon Charles, Pat Fallon, Ron London,
Michael Ammar, Jay Sankey, Jahn Gallo, David Ginn ……………… quite an
outstanding range of talent.
Recently Tony has concentrated more on presenting his One Man Show The Art
of The Magician. This is ideal for groups of up to 50 persons, and also
fits in well on the smaller ‘After Dinner Circuit.’ It is an hour long
performance in intimate surroundings and draws upon Tony’s many years
experience of performing.
Tony still continues to lecture to magic organisations both in the U.K and
overseas. A new innovation is his Creative Magic Lecture/Teach-In which
takes place at his home in Bristol twice a year. In this action packed day
the material presented places emphasis upon subtlety, routining and
entertainment. Areas covered include Close Up Magic, Trade Shows, After
Dinner Speaking/Entertainment, Promotion, Publicity and Organisation.
Seating is limited to 10 persons only and has proved very popular, with
magicians coming from far and wide to attend. As part of the package
delegates receive morning coffee, a buffet lunch and a light tea. See
www.tonygriffith.co.uk for future dates and also www.magicweek.co.uk
(Reviews) for a review of a previous day.
This has to be the Floating Light Bulb as performed by Harry
Blackstone Jnr. Tony has had the pleasure of seeing this performed live a
number of times, and it never failed to draw gasps and a standing ovation.
It is , or was pure theatre. Two items run it very close The Floating
Violin as presented by Norman Neilsen…… poetry in motion., and The
Spirit Cabinet by Francis Willard and Glen Falkenstein….lightening
fast and breathtaking.
It is difficult to select any one book. The Tarbell Course in Magic
served Tony very well in his early days and gave him a good grounding in
general knowledge. He has always been very fond of reading books written
by Lewis Ganson, and of all his offerings, The Dai Vernon Book of Magic
came out on top. John Booth’s publications are always well written.
Forging Ahead In Magic as part of the John Booth Classics,
published by Supreme Magic Company was a great inspiration. Regarding
recent publications The Secret Ways of Al Baker is a masterpiece
incorporating all the works of this great magician. Steve Beam’s five
volumes of Semi Automatic Card Tricks contain some wonderful
material. Finally, for sheer volume and quality he plumps for the three
Stewart James books …Stewart James In Print - the first 50 years,
and The James File, volumes 1 and 2.
It is very difficult to choose any one magician and say “He is top man”
because there are so many different styles of presentation. Tony makes his
judgment only on magicians he has seen. In the stage category his choice
goes to Harry Blackstone Jnr. He looked like a master magician, and had
great stage presence. He had that wonderful line when presenting the
Floating Light Bulb. “You will remember this for as long as you live”
…..and you did. In the cabaret style of magic he would go for Fred Kaps as
one of the greatest of his kind. Among today’s performers Tony rates Alan
Shaxon among the very best. In the mental field it is a tie between
Maurice Fogel and Al Koran. The best magic demonstrator without doubt Ken
Brooke. In the card magic field he places Steve Beam as one of the most
polished and entertaining men with the pasteboards. Finally as top Close
Up Magician his vote goes without hesitation to Daryl.
Top Magic Quote
"If I have been able to see farther than others, it was because I stood
on the shoulders of giants"
Sir Isaac Newton. Tony thinks that in a way this quote is applicable to
magic. "By reading and studying what has gone before us, can only be of
benefit. It gives us a depth of knowledge that is lacking in so many of
today’s DVD (don’t read books) magicians."
Top Magic Moment
There are two such moments. One is his first appearance at The Magic
Castle in Hollywood, meeting Dai Vernon and receiving such a nice letter
from him at the end of his week there. The second thrill was being
accepted as a Member of The Magic Circle many years ago, and then being
elevated to Member of The Inner Magic Circle in 1982.