Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Illusionist Jerry Andrus dies

By Ian Rollins
Albany Democrat-Herald

Jerry Andrus, Albany’s world-famous magician and illusionist, died Sunday at the Mennonite Home. He was 89.

His brother, George Andrus, said Jerry died of cancer. George said a private graveside service will be held this week, and a public memorial service will follow later.

“Among other things, Jerry many times stated that he’d had a good life,” George, 91, said this morning. “He wasn’t morbid about it at all. He wasn’t fighting it.”

Rick Rogers, owner of Movies and Magic in downtown Albany, said Andrus was one of his early inspirations. “I’ve known him to be one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Any child that ever knocked on his door and said, ‘Mr. Andrus, I’d like to see a trick,’ or ‘Mr. Andrus, can you help me with this trick?’ ... I’ve never known him not to stop and take the time to help a child, or an adult, for that matter.”

Rogers said Andrus was considered to be one of the top close-up magicians in the world. He knew illusionists David Copperfield and Criss Angel, performed at the famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and at shows worldwide, and had spoken at Harvard and Stanford as well as other universities.

His brother said the family moved from Springfield to Albany in 1928, when he and Jerry were boys. He said Jerry never moved far from Albany the rest of his life.

Ring 238 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians held a special Jerry Andrus Day March 18 at the Venetian Theater. Albany Mayor Doug Killin contributed to the honor, proclaiming the day to be “Jerry Andrus Day.”

George Andrus lived next door to his brother since 1979. He said Jerry’s house was the “tightest, fullest house and shop of any place in the world,” packed with moving shelf units, which held Andrus’s many gadgets and inventions.

George and Jerry were two of four siblings. Other than George, Jerry is survived by a niece and nephew — daughter and son of George’s and Jerry’s late sister Lucilia Wiltse.

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