The Fort Worth Magicians Club was founded in 1941 by Fort Worth businessman, entrepreneur, and restaurateur A. Renwick "Ren" Clark. Ren had an insatiable appetite for magic, and through his generosity and commitment, made important contributions to many magic organizations including the Fort Worth Magicians Club, the Texas Association of Magicians, and the International Brotherhood of Magicians for which he served as its president in 1947.
Ren Clark became interested in magic after seeing a performance of the famed Texas "tent" magician, Willard, the Wizard. While he would go on to graduate from Texas A.M with a degree in engineering, he never lost his childhood memories of the Willard show and that first fascination for magic.
To say that Ren would come to express that enthusiasm "extravagantly" would be the Texas definition of understatement. It all started with a simple sleight of hand coin trick that he purchased in a magic shop in Canada, and from that simple pleasure his investment in magic would simply spin out of control. Later, in his home, he would build his own private magic theater where he would perform for the likes of Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Clark's enthusiasm for magic was contagious. He attracted a number of local luminaries to membership in the Fort Worth Magicians Club. John Justin, founder of Justin Boots, was a one-time member, as was Wilbur Kattner--magic designer, inventor, and metallurgist on the Manhattan Project. The former Vice President of the Fort Worth Star Telegram Luther Adkins was a long-time member, and both he and Kattner would serve as the club's president in 1948 and 1961, respectively.
As was fashionable in North American magic in the early 20th century, Ren Clark liked to feign himself as a Chinese magician. His private shows featured Clark vested in elaborate and rare Chinese robes, several of which he purchased from sellers in China with connections to some the ancient Chinese collections of traditional costumes. He had his tailors modify them to accommodate doves, rare cockatiels, and other exotic birds.
Clark owned the Western Hills Hotel where he established a South Pacific decorated "Tiki Lounge," complete with live "mermaids" swimming in a glass-enclosed aquarium. Clark and other members of his magic circle would perform magic, strolling from table to table to entertain his guests.
Ren Clark's contributions to the world of magic were phenomenal. As president of the IBM, he traveled throughout the world, encouraging magic communities to establish official "rings" of the organization.
Even approaching his 80's, he was still active, attending club meetings and the annual conventions of the Texas Association of Magicians.
Before his death in 1991, he established a trust fund for his hometown, the "Ren Clark" IBM Ring 15. For all his work, Ren Clark was duly honored.
[Ren] Clark was made an Honorary Life Member of the following magical organizations: Texas Association of Magicians; International Brotherhood of Magicians, the British Ring; I.G.P. Club de Azteca of Guadalajara, Mexico; I.B.M. Ring No. 15 of Fort Worth, Texas, Swedish Magic Circle; Circulo Magico Argentino; El Circulo de Magos Mexicana, Mexico, D. F.; All India Magic Circle; and the Singapore I.B.M. Ring No. 115 of Singapore.
The IBM Ring No 15 in Fort Worth, Texas is called the Ren Clark Ring in his honor. He was a member of the I.B.M. Order of Merlin, Excalibur (50 years) and the recipient of the highest award that can be bestowed by the Board of Trustees of the I.B.M., the Medallion of Honor.
He was featured on the cover of The Magic Circular, May 1990.
Later members of the club included a number of people who would make major contributions to magic in North Texas.
Pictured above, the late Bob Utter, better known as "Mr. Mystic," produced a long-running live magic show on KXAS-TV (Channel 5).
Louis Daniel, voted a "Life Time Member" of the Fort Worth Magicians Club, is a professional artist and illustrator who, through his benevolence, provided the graphics that have become iconic in their branding of the organization.
Arthur Emerson, of the renowned Emerson and West magical producers and sales team, brought so many original effects to the close up arena. Arthur is credited as the creator of the ever so popular "Color Monte" packet trick that in his lifetime sold over 500,000 copies.
Derek Kennedy opened Magic etc and Ft Worth Costume near downtown, and it remains one of the best appointed magic stores in North Texas.
Founder of the Alliance of Illusionists, Bruce Chadwick became a full-time Gospel magician and opened the Illusion Warehouse in south Fort Worth where, for many years, he fabricated large illusions for some of the major magic head-liners in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York. For his many contributions and years of service to the organization, members of the Fort Worth Magicians Club voted him as an honorary "Life Member."
Ash Adams met the eclectic Ren Clark as a young teenager and, so inspired by him, went on to perform as the "corporate magician" for General Motors and for enthusiastic audiences at the Tropicana Casino in Las Vegas.
David Hira joined the club in the 1980's and has become one of the most sought after "magical emcees" in North America. A teacher and coach of magic for professional performers, David's online lectures have taught hundreds of this new generation of magic aficionados.
Former Little Elm Constable John Hatzenbuhler became a regional spokesperson and performer, using his magical skills to address drug abuse for thousands of North Texas school children, a contribution recognized by the late former United States President George H. W. Bush as one of his original "Thousand Points of Light."
Will Baffle, a professional illusionist and magic collector, entertains both magicians and lay audience, re-introducing some of the most valuable stage pieces from the early and mid-twentieth century, Recently, Will has performed pieces from the collection of "The Great Virgil" (Virgil Harris Mulkey/1900-1989).
While he spent his professional career as a psychotherapist and family counsellor, "Doctor" Mike Smith, the 1971 President of the Fort Worth Magicians Club, is a prolific essayist on the art of magical performance and has recently released a volume of his essays, Make Believe: Discovering and Creating Magical Experiences.
A whole new generation of magical enthusiasts, inspired by such current luminaries as David Blaine and Criss Angel, have taken up decks of cards, eschewing the Asian themes and memes of their grandfathers, and have taken magic to the hallways and school yards. And social media venues now take the place of the costly professional marketing expenses of the past.
The first two decades of the twentieth century have seen the club's magic flourishing. If we have lost performance opportunities of the larger theater venues of the 1950's and '60's, we have found eager audiences in smaller assemblies, but no less enthusiastic for our magic, in libraries, senior citizen and assisted-living agencies, day care facilities, public and private schools, private parties, restaurants, and corporate events.
The 2013 club president, the late Larry Heil and his dragon partner Albert (pictured above) delighted audiences in libraries, schools, and colleges throughout North Texas.
2020 club president Ron Wilson has set a record for one of the longest-running gigs--fifteen years in the Olive Garden in Wichita Falls. Today, he has expanded his repertoire to include a full mentalism show that he performs regularly in San Antonio and other Texas venues.
Pix Smith, owner of the Dallas Puppet Theater, entertains in libraries, private parties, and corporate events.
Owners and operators of a Discover Magic Academy, Dal and Cinde Sanders now perform and teach magic by video conferencing, attracting students from all over the nation, and their Kartoon Circus, featuring magical interludes, is seen by audiences on every continent except Anarctica!
Mike Smith is a popular entertainer for senior citizen groups and in churches. He continues to write a regular column in the club's Flashpaper.
Assisted periodically by Matt Martin (club president in 2016), illusionist Will Baffle (2018 club president) takes his illusion show to school and performance halls across the Southwest.
Club historian Ash Adams has amassed one of the deepest collections of magic literature in North Texas.
Geoff Grimes facilitates the annual public magic shows each fall and summer at Mountain View College in Dallas. He and Mike Smith have created a popular lecture for college psychology classes relating magical effects and perception.
In addition to his work as a demonstrator at Magic ect & Ft Worth Costume, Josh Ayala performs regular in popular bars, night clubs, and for private parties.
While its rolls have dropped from its heyday of a 100-plus members in the 1970's and '80's, the Fort Worth Magicians Club continues to provide a venue for area magicians who meet each month to study, share, and explore the art of magical entertainment. Among its community are full-time stage illusionists, close-up artists, restaurant entertainers, children's and birthday party magicians, and mentalists--all of whom bring a wealth of knowledge, range of skills, and years of performance experience that enrich each meeting. The club hosts two or three first-tier lecturers each year whose concentrations bring magicians from around North Texas.
Several of its members have been recognized nationally for their contributions to magic in the early 21st century. Full-time magician Dal Sanders, active, along with his wife Cinde, in several North Texas magic circles, served as the 2013 National President of the Society of American Magicians. He, along with Bruce Chadwick and Dr. Geoffrey Grimes, have been profiled in cover stories for the SAM's international magazine, the M-U-M. And young magician James Irwin has been profiled for his incredibly nuanced stage performances in the International Brotherhood of Magicians magazine, The Linking Ring. James took top honors recently in the youth competitions of the Texas Association of Magicians and performed in national competitions at the annual convention of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
While the membership is smaller than its population of past decades, today the club attracts a diverse community of magic makers. Bankers, airline pilots, CPA's, college professors, accountants, military veterans, businessmen and women, public school teachers, homemakers, manufacturers, university trustees, pastors, professional photographers, hospital administrators, medical doctors, clowns, professional puppeteers, publishers, family therapists and licensed professional counselors, registered nurses, truck drivers, bus drivers, sales representatives--all join our full-time and part-time professionals in a community dedicated to the celebration and preservation of the magical arts and entertainment.
Fort Worth Magicians Club
For more information, call or text us us at (972) 740-3125. This website is maintainded by Dr. Geoff Grimes, club webmaster.
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