A Magical Mentorship
Inside the enchanted bond between a neophyte illusionist and an octogenarian legend.
On a warm March night in 1973, David Roth, a lanky twenty-one-year-old Brooklyn native with dark eyes, light-brown hair and a prominent forehead, stepped for the first time onto the stage of the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. Roth was the youngest magician ever to work the venue, magic’s equivalent of Carnegie Hall. Shaking slightly, he sat down behind a felt-covered table and scanned the audience. His eyes landed on an old man in the front row, and his face flushed with recognition.
Dai Vernon, an elegantly clad eighty-year-old Canadian with soft, white hair, a trimmed mustache, and faded blue eyes sat there staring at him from a table supposedly reserved for non-magicians that night. Defying a tradition meant to soothe the nerves of greenhorn performers, the most influential sleight-of-hand artist of the twentieth century had decided to closely observe Roth's presentation.
Roth opened up a leather pouch and laid sever…