As some of you know magician and historian Neville Wiltshire is just back from Australia. While there he took a nostalgic trip down memory lane with the daughters of Dublin’s most successful magician of the last century and heard for the first time a secret kept for forty years. Neville writes...
Last month I spent a delightful afternoon with Barabra and Yvonne, the younger daughters of Albert LeBas and their families who now live in the suburbs of Sydney.
We talked our way through a scrapbook of photographs, programmes and press cuttings, lovingly preserved by Barbara to show Albert’s grandchildren how highly he was regarded by his peers. I also showed them a few items from his repertoire.
Albert LeBas started in Magic at age seven with school concerts. Entering the Society of Irish Magicians junior competition as `Prince Puzzlem` at 15, he quickly became in demand performing for the army and civic functions. In his early twenties as`Ali Pasha` he had a full stage illusion act which played the Dublin Variety theatres.
In 1951, settling on the billing `LeBas the Magician ` he was the first to perform on T.V. in Ireland although T.V. didn’t come for another eleven years. This was at a demonstration of the new media for a week at the spring show.
Over the next twenty years he established himself as one of the leading Irish entertainers. Resident compere for Jurys Cabaret, the chosen entertainer for visiting celebrities , Gaiety Theatre pantomime and revue , Magic Circle shows and a trip to the U.S. for the IBM/SAM conventions.
When RTE opened in 1962 Albert was the presenter of the weekly variety show and a regular visitor to magazine programmes.
In 1971, just before his untimely death, Albert LeBas presented the first Irish showing of Harbins ZIG ZAG as the interval item on that years Irish Eurovision show. Barbara LeBas tells this story: "The illusion was one of those licensed to purchasers of the Harbin Book. It arrived in the LeBas house early one morning, probably brought over on the night boat from Holyhead by Trevor Lewis who worked on that route. It was assembled and set up in our front room while my father went out to work at the day job he held as manager of a major Ford dealership. On his return in the evening he inspected his purchase and discovered that one of the doors was damaged , presumably in transit . He contacted the maker Jack Hughes, who, ethical dealer that he was, rushed him a replacement." But-- confessed Barbara, “I have not told anyone this for forty years, I came home from school that afternoon, played with the new illusion and I was the one damaged the door. This was my ZIG ZAG secret “.