Spending 4 afternoons with Annabel Gray (Billy McCombs' partner for the last 20 years or so of his life) proved to be quite an unexpected treat. She was in a bind and needed help taking pics, cropping and uploading, so I offered to help her out. I shot hundreds of pictures all which can be seen on the online auction The Billy McComb Legacy. I arrived at their condo in Hollywood, not too far from where the Magic Castle is located. She invited me in, and after we made proper introductions, asked me if I knew Billy. I said that we had met 20 years ago and left it at that. I actually had a funny story about me threatening Billy at the Castle bar, but I had just met the woman and didn't feel it appropriate introductory dialog.
We got to work and started to take pictures of the various lots. I love playing with old magic props,looking through old magic books and studying old magic pictures. The next few days would would give me great insight into the man who was Billy McComb.
Although he graduated from medical school as a doctor, he blew off medical notions and pursued a career as a magician (I'm sure his parents must have loved that choice). I guess he got the last laugh though, as he had a hit TV show in that aired in the UK in the early 60's and worked right up till the end of his life. He had wonderful adventures as an entertainer.
Years ago, I purchased an estate of magic, vent props, books and pictures. I had the depressing notion at the time, that when you die, you are reduced to a pile of shit that someone else has to deal with. I had no such feeling this time, as I took picture after picture of what billy had collected in his 84 years on this planet. The difference was Annabel. She was there, sharing stories about this prop or that. Most interesting however, were the stories of their life together. I think it's safe to say, that Billy knew everyone who was anybody in magic. He was a magic junkie. . . like many of us.
After several afternoons with Annabel and some tasty meals that we ordered in, I felt comfortable enough to tell her the story about my one memorable confrontation with Billy. The year was 1987. Danny Sylvester and I could be found at the Castle almost every weekend for over a year. On the night in question, I had brought my then girlfriend a lovely woman named Mary Crawford who was 15 years my senior. I was having a dandy time throwing back cocktails and doing tricks. At some point Mary informed me that she just had an indecent and lewd proposal from that man over there (Billy McComb in all his glory sporting a pretty good buzz himself). I'm not sure what made me do it, but I took out this GIANT switchblade from my jacket, popped it open directly below his nose and threatened him with bodily harm. . . but not with such nice words. Ahhhhh the many memories. . . the people. . . and the art.