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A Look Back at The Greatest Talent Contest 1977

The major special event for 2021 will be the reunion of many of the participants of the 1977 Talent Contest during the 40th Abbott Get Together. This will take place Thursday, August 5th in the dealers room after Thursday eveing show. The top three winners that year were Lance Burton, Jeff Hobson, and Mac King respectively. Below is what Neil Foster wrote about this particular talent contest.

by Neil Foster - 1977

In every issue of The NEW TOPS appears the slogan, EVERY PROFESSIONAL WAS FIRST AN AMATEUR, it's there to encourage the novice and to prevent the professional from becoming conceited. The future of Magic is in the hands of the beginners, and you can take it from an old guy, the future sparkles. Running the contests each year at the Get-Together for two mornings is my pleasure; it's akin to gardening, which I love, watching things grow and mature is the name of the game. For instance, in 1966 we held a talent contest with nine contestants. . .here are four of the nine whose names you will recognize immediately. . .Tom Mullica, Dennis Loomis, Dale Salwak and Claire Manley. Yes, every professional was indeed first an amateur.

I am glad to see that our talent contests have grown where we can now give 36 young magicians a proving ground under professional conditions to try their wings. Each year our audience of early morning risers increases and thanks to them they are on hand to encourage these new people. They also see some great work and enjoy themselves at the same time.

Our three judges this year were Bill Vande Werken of Kalamazoo, TOPS columnist Walt Hudson of Baltimore, and that great professional, George Goebel of Baltimore. Connie Pelham was at the organ. The contestants gave our judges a hard time because 80% of them were all winners as far as I was concerned. Here are the winners: First place, Lance Burton, 17, from Louisville. Second place, Jeff Hobson, 15, from Detroit. Third place, Mac King, 17, from Louisville. Fourth place, Todd Simpson, 17, from Mason, Ohio. Fifth place, John Colletti, 12, from Grosse Pointe, Michigan. The judges also gave Honorable Mention to Gerry Kurtz and Larry Clapp, both from Toledo, Ohio.

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