Walter B. Gibson and The Shadow


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About the Book

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? . . . The Shadow knows!” And who knew The Shadow better than his creator, Walter B. Gibson. Relatively few people have heard of Gibson, but many more are familiar with The Shadow having heard the program on the Blue Coal Radio Program in the 1930s and read the Street & Smith Shadow novels. Walter B. Gibson’s life and career come out from behind The Shadow in this biography. It covers his youth in Philadelphia, his development as a writer and magician, his wives, including the third, (Litzka, who was a harpist and magician in her own right), his time living in Maine and upstate New York, and his later years and death. In addition to being credited with creating The Shadow (he used the pseudonym Maxwell Grant), Gibson wrote 187 books, contributed 668 articles to periodicals, created 283 stories for The Shadow Magazine, wrote 48 separate syndicated feature columns, reported the adventures of The Shadow and Blackstone the magician in 394 comic books and newspaper strips, and helped develop 147 radio scripts and many other works under numerous pseudonyms. Gibson has invented many widely used magic tricks and traveled with and befriended Harry Houdini, Howard Thurston, Harry Blackstone, Sr., and Joseph Dunninger.

About the Author(s)

Magician–performer Thomas J. Shimeld lives in Morganton, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Thomas J. Shimeld

Foreword by Robert W. Gibson

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 200
Bibliographic Info: photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005 [2003]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2361-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9005-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword      ix
Preface      1

1. Setting the Scene of an Extraordinary Life      7
2. The Magical Years of Youth      17
3. Shaping the Future      24
4. Howard Thurston      38
5. Harry Houdini’s Final Escape      47
6. Casting the Shadow      59
7. Who Knows the Shadow?      74
8. Shadows of the Shadow      84
9. Harry Blackstone, Sr.—Lighting the Floating Bulb of Friendship      98
10. Psychic Phenomena and Mental Magic      106
11. Litzka Raymond Gibson—A Uniting Force of Magic      120
12. A Fading Shadow      137
Afterword      152

Appendix I: Alfred Gibson’s Account of the Lincoln Conspiracy Trials    161
Appendix II: Gibson Diary Extract, 1919      165
Notes      171
Bibliography      181
Index      185

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “a remarkable story”—Big Reel
  • “colorful, interesting…nicely written and well-organized”—Classic Images
  • “unbelievable…comprehensive index…an enjoyable read”—Magic
  • “highly researched, detailed biography…buy this book”—MagiCurrents
  • “well written and clearly well researched…vast amounts of information on the life of one of magic’s most interesting characters”—Mum
  • “a very positive, workmanlike, and much needed biography of a man very special to magic…highly recommended”—The Linking Ring
  • “well-informed and expertly put together”—Interzone
  • “a welcome addition to your library”—SPERDVAC Radiogram
  • “wide-ranging book”—Communication Booknotes Quarterly
  • “a distinct pleasure to be able to review…excellent…well-written”—Dime Novel Roundup
  • “definitive, comprehensive…excellent”—Mystery News
  • “filled with information…wonderful”—Reviewing the Evidence