Saturday, December 14, 2013

BOB "the dean" TILFORD

For nearly 70 years, Bob "The Dean" Tilford donned a tuxedo and top hat performing magic for the city of Baltimore.
Robert Lowery Tilford was born in Gary, Indiana and moved to Sparrows Point where his father was employed by the Bethlehem Steel Corp.  Mr. Tilford, who had earlier lived in Parkville, was known for his tricks with everyday objects and his ability to capture his audience with mathematical puzzles.  In 1921, he saw magician Howard Thurston appear from thin air on the stage of Hippodrome Theater on Eutaw Street and levitate Princess Karnac, a silver sphere; Tilford was hooked. This led him to become a charter member of Baltimore's Pyramid Magic Club in the1930s; run by a City College teacher by the name of Ernest B. "Fes" Marx.
After attending Lebanon Valley College, he then moved to New York in 1937 and began his professional magic career, appearing in Manhattan nightclubs as ‘LaSalle the Mad Kap of Mystery,’  ‘Magic Bob’ and ‘Trebor.’  Mr. Tilford also performed at USO shows in Baltimore during World War II and ‘Breakfasts with Santa’ at Hutzler's department stores. For many years, Mr. Tilford worked Saturdays alongside Phil Thomas at the 310 & 217 N. Charles Street locations of Yogi Magic Mart in downtown Baltimore.  His nickname, "The Dean" was given to him within the ranks of the Yogi Magic Club.
Mr. Tilford was married to his loving wife Laurette for 52 years and worked as an engineer for Maryland Refrigeration and the Bendix Corp. in Towson.
"Magic is a secretive field, but Bob was a very giving man who liked nothing better than to help the younger members. There was no magician he wouldn't welcome." 
 Ken Horsman
"He provided people with a lot of joy. He especially liked working with young magic students, especially if they stuttered or had a handicap, and helped them improve their self-image," 
- Anne Claire Garrett (daughter of Phil Thomas)
"He had an engineer's mind and liked tricks involving mathematical principles and numbers. He used a lot of everyday objects -- salt shakers, knives, forks, spoons -- in his tricks." 
 McCarl Roberts
 “Bob Tilford was called "The Dean" of the Yogi Magic Club. I had the pleasure of working with Bob at Yogi & Main Street Magic. I was blessed to be the one that Bob gave all of his "notes" to, about tricks that he either improved or invented!! An Extremely nice man!!" 
- Kevin Kirtley
“The first time I went to Yogi Magic Mart at 310 N. Charles, Mr. Tilford warmly approached my family and set about performing some of the most jaw-dropping close-up magic that I, to this day, have ever seen. His skills were on a level few magicians achieve. I distinctly remember his beautiful stripped suit and him smelling of cologne. Bob Tilford looked like a true wizard and his energy was contagious.” 
David Kidd

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