In Memoriam – Cesareo Pelaez

(16 October 1932 − 24 March 2012)

MAGIC Magazine - May 1993As reported in the Boston Globe, the Genii Forum, and elsewhere Cesareo Pelaez (AKA Marco the Magi), founder of Le Grand David and His Spectacular Magic Company, died last week.

I met him once briefly – and the felt the story of that encounter the fittingest tribute I could give.  My condolences to David and the entire extended Beverly family.

In early 2000 I attended the World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas, NV.  Cesareo was being honored; David Bull accompanied him.  I was 2 or 3 days into the seminar and the convention was becoming a bit tedious for me personally.  I suspect all conventions, regardless of subject, get to this point eventually.  The euphoria of finding so many similar-minded folks in one place has worn off. The pervasive accessibility of your favorite pastime or topic has turned it banal.  And let’s face it – magicians can be an odd lot.

And so I found myself walking into the dealer’s room for the 10th time, knowing there was nothing I hadn’t seen, but looking to kill time until the Rudy Coby lecture I was excited about later in the day.  Any desire to meet new friends or see an impromptu trick had long since left me.  I was considering giving money to the nearby slots just to pass the time.

And as I aimlessly walked through the middle of the dealer’s room, I heard someone speak.  It popped me out of the zone I was in…“Excuse me?”  I said.  I looked down and back over my shoulder: it was Cesareo Pelaez.  I recognized him immediately.  He was sitting at an one of the those large wooden circular tables you seem to find only at hotels and weddings, clearly looking to rest his legs.  While I knew he was to be honored, I hadn’t seen him at any prior events – unlike the scores of other faces which had since become common.

“You should smile more.”

His comment, of course, caused me to smile.  He smiled quietly, confidently back.  And I immediately realized how right he was…how lucky I was to be there, learning more about something I loved.

His point having been made, he said no more.  Still a bit starstruck, I didn’t either.  And so we both nodded and got back to our tasks of not doing much at all.

True to the generosity he’s always been associated with – later that day the organizers announced that Cesareo and team were providing every attendee with a custom drawn poster commemorating the conference.  Cesareo’s free time was henceforth filled autographing every attendee’s poster – a task he of course did gladly and without complaints.  I, however, did not revisit him – having felt as though I’d already received gift enough.

In April of 2010, I saw Cesareo’s name in the condolences/Good Cheer list in the SAM or IBM magazines and thought back to my brief encounter with him ten years prior.  So I pulled out a card and wrote him a short note of my memory of that day, how he had managed to change my outlook so quickly and completely with just a handful of words – and wished him well in his recovery.

To my surprise, a month later, I received a package.  It contained an autographed copy of the Avrom Karl Surath biography of Cesareo, There Will Be Wonderful Surprises.  “Le Grand David” and Avrom Surath had signed it as well.  This unexpected surprise has become one of my favorites of my small collection.  He couldn’t have known I was a book collector, and yet the gift seems typically magical from this wonderfully magical man.

Signature of Cesareo

  • Surath, Avrom Karl. There Will Be Wonderful Surprises.  NP: NP. 2007, second printing. 228 pp.  Cover | Full Title.

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