Ted Danson 1928 - 2005

An appreciation by John Derris

Both magic and I lost a good friend when lifetime magician Ted Danson passed away on 18th November after a long illness in hospital and a nursing home in Deal, Kent. I knew Ted when we both met as youngsters at The Institute of Magicians and we became close friends and went to conventions and magic events together for years both in Britain and overseas. Indeed our very first convention we attended as wide-eyed magic enthusiasts was at the IBM Convention at The Burlington Hotel Bournemouth in 1948; I still have precious photographs of all the greats of the day that we remembered for the rest of our lives.

He was best man at my wedding when I married Jack Avis's sister, which in itself was a mini convention with guests Al Koran. Roy Walton, Bobby Bernard, Ron Alexander, Hugh Scott and of course Jack and many other magic friends of the day such was the close camaraderie of our mutual passion.

A chartered secretary by profession Ted was never one to push himself to the forefront of magic, presenting at that time a quiet, sophisticated style of light humour very much in the manner of Peter Waring. He loved magic, always joined with our group every Saturday content to be on the sideline rather than pushing the boundaries of the art. Although his one big magical achievement was being the first person to come up with the diary trick which found widespread success. His version used six diaries and later many other methods by came along including versions by Arthur Carter and Alex Elmsley using less diaries and with many other variations but it was Ted who thought up the concept.

He was a happy man, always smiling, never married but retired at an early age in Deal, Kent where he and his family were born. A great traveller he went round the world on a ship and every winter he would close down his flat in Deal and travel to a warmer clime for the season Tunisia, Morocco, Malta, Portugal, Greece always somewhere adjacent to the warmth of the Mediterranean. He was a friend of former professional Clyde Clayton who also lived in Deal and they spent many hours together. I travelled frequently to visit him and Clyde and spend hours talking magic. Sadly when confined in hospital for nearly a year his interest in magic waned and it was just a few weeks ago that Alex Elmsley, Bobby Bernard and myself saw him for the last time in the nursing home, somewhat detached from everyday life. I pray that he has now met up with the magic gathering in the sky and is finding the great pleasure he once knew in this great passion of ours. Thanks Ted for a lifetime of friendship.


John Derris, December 2005