Saturday, June 3, 2017

Remembering James Hamilton

Last month I was shocked and saddened to learn that James Hamilton had passed away. James was a wonderful man who was Wild About Herrmanns. He even looked like Herrmann! I always enjoyed seeing James at the Magic Castle and at magic conventions. I felt we were kindred spirits in our devotion to a single magician, and I always asked him what was new and happening in the Herrmann world. To be standing with him when he got his first good look at the magnificent Matthew Brady portrait of Alexander Herrmann at the last L.A. Magic History Conference was a real treat.

It was also James who provided me with the Jesse L. Lasky quote: "[Houdini] did his best acting handcuffed and locked in a trunk at the bottom of a river." I would frequently tell him that his line was still getting the biggest laugh of my lectures. He always liked that. It also seemed like every time I saw him he was in the midst of sharing. Whether it be his knowledge, items from his collection, or just his own great joy and enthusiasm. In fact, I believe I first met him while he was helping a young historian with information about Adelaide Herrmann for her college dissertation on Women in Magic. That was James.

Yesterday at the Magic Castle, I heard someone say, "James is now with Alexander." I do like the idea that Herrmann is now sharing with him.

Items from James's Herrmann collection will be auctioned by our friends Haversat & Ewing Galleries on June 23-24.



  1. Oh, no! So sorry to hear this. He was the living link to "Compars."

  2. I was shocked when I heard the news. I didn't know James well, but we had a great conversation a couple years ago, which I will never forget. I had hoped to get to know him better and of course was anxious for his Herrmann book. It appears he has asked Margaret Steele to finish the book, so this is good news.


  4. I knew James for at least 25 years if not more. I really got a kick out of him. He wants to buy me over to his home in San Francisco. I was very wowed by his intriguing posters about magic and the people he really love test magicians from the early days. I must say all of my interactions with James we're somewhat comical I miss him.

  5. I dreamt about you last night out of nowhere which was so strange since I don’t often dream. Mind you it’s currently 8/3/23. In the dream I was in your house and there were other people there that lived in the other rooms, but your room I could hear you coughing. When I entered you weren’t there but a security camera was facing me as though you were aware I was visiting. Strange dream but very vivid. I woke up thinking about the time you came home all excited about working at Pixar on the short film called Presto back in 2008 when I lived with you. You were such a young soul. Then I google you just now to find out you passed away years ago. Was the dream a sign? I’ve never dreamt about you before. I wonder what it all means. If magic is real I’m sure you found a way to push the book off the shelf. Safe travels.

  6. James and I worked with each other entirely outside of the world of magic. But we both had the Gift of Gab, a puckish sense of humor and a certain kind of fearlessness that well suited to that particular job. I did see him perform once at a company Xmas party. He did his superb Linking Rings. His mastery of the smooth motions and patter are a treasuted memory.