Will Alma

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Will Alma
BornOswald George William
November 04, 1904
Melbourne, Australia
DiedMay 06, 1993 (age 88)

Will Alma (November 4, 1904 - May 6, 1993), born Oswald George William Bishop in Melbourne, Australia, was described in March 1987 issue of The Linking Ring as "Australia's most famous magician" and "a successful club and vaudeville magician, manufacturer and dealer, teacher of magic, editor and publisher of conjuring periodicals, a writer and outstanding collector of magicana."


Biography

Alma's father was, Oswald Henry Bishop, a tinsmith by trade, but also performed professionally as "Alma, the Court Magician" and his mother, Rose, who was Australia's first "floating lady" in 1903.

Alma began doing magic against his family's wishes, studying David Devant's book Magic Made Easy (1903) while working at engineering firms (which helped him develop the skills in constructing apparatus). His father however deserted his them in 1913, making his way to American Samoa and finally settling in Hawaii.

From 1926 to 1931, Alma was touring country towns with his own illusion show.

In 1927 he married his dancing partner, Florence Stemming, but they eventually were divorced in 1947.

Alma was associated with the Will Andrade magic shops in Melbourne and Sydney before starting the Will Alma Magical Co., manufacturing equipment in the 1930s.

During 1940, Alma joined the Great Levante as adviser and technician in Australia.

From 1945 to 1948, Alma was chief mechanic for the Tivoli theatre in Melbourne and entertained troops at U.S.O. shows in Queensland.

In 1953 he married his second wife, Eileen Margaret Hastings, who remained his beloved wife, his closest friend and ally until her death in 1988.

During the Korean war, he performed for the troops along the 38th parallel, followed by engagements in North Borneo, Tokyo, Manila and Hong Kong.

From 1967, Alma devoted himself to collecting, acquiring more than 2,500 conjuring books, some 8,000 magazines, 1,500 photos, posters, scrap books, programs and cassettes. He donated it all to the State Library of Victoria where it is to be kept in a special area known as "The W. G. Alma Conjuring Collection".[1][2][3][4][5]

Honors and Awards

  • 1958 was elevated to Member of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star.
  • 1989, Presidential Citation from International I.B.M. President Edward Morris in recognition of his services to the Art of Magic.
  • 1991, the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honors for his services to magic.


References

  1. http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/about/news/focus_on/alma.html
  2. Obituary Magic Circular, Vol. 87, 1993 page 99
  3. http://calisto.slv.vic.gov.au/latrobejournal/issue/latrobe-74/t1-g-t3.html
  4. Obituary Linking Ring, July 1993.
  5. Obituary Genii 1993 July
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