Tom Prete (Mr. Magic) Founder of Assembly No. 127
1/04/1928 – 6/09/2007
Tom first started performing magic shows in 1960 as Mr. Magic and over the next 47 years was active as performer, teacher, volunteer and tireless guiding force behind the Assembly 127.
In 2005 Assembly 127 members presented Tom with honorary membership in the assembly that bears his name and in 2006 Tom was awarded honorary membership in the S.A.M.
As founder of Assembly 127 in 1976, Tom Prete had for 26 years played a leading role in planning the Assembly’s annual New England Magicians’ Conference (NEMCON), held each year in North Haven Connecticut. In 1988, Tom was honored at the annual NEMCON convention and later that year Tom was featured as “Magician of the Month” in M.U.M. magazine, which featured his picture on the cover. That issue also featured a biography of “Mr. Magic”, highlighting many of his contributions to the magic fraternity. Three years later, the Society of American Magicians once again recognized his efforts on behalf of magic and featured him, along with several other Magicians of the Year, on the cover of M.U.M.
Along with his leadership role in the Society of American Magicians, Tom also held office in two other magic organizations: Frederick Eugene Powell Ring 59, International Brotherhood of Magicians, and the New Haven Magic Society. The latter group held meetings at the Petrie Lewis studio in New Haven.
Tom Prete’s efforts in Connecticut on behalf of advancing interest in magic extend beyond his important contributions to the magic profession. As a junior high school art teacher in North Haven Connecticut, he sponsored a magic club and taught magic to adults at Quinnipiac College in Hamden Connecticut. Tom also ran a retail magic shop out of this home in Wallingford Connecticut where many of his customers caught the “magic bug” from magic lessons which he taught. On Friday nights, visiting magicians entertained customers in his shop.
Tom also entertained countless numbers of children in the pediatric ward of Yale New Haven Hospital. For nearly 30 years, Tom volunteered at the hospital, giving Mr. Magic’s special brand of fun and magic to the children, their parents and the medical staff. There was one unlucky little twelve-year-old boy hospitalized at the Yale New Haven Hospital awaiting a pacemaker. He enjoyed Tom's weekly visits so much that he became a magician himself. Over the next ten years, Tom helped this young man accept his pacemaker, recover, and progress in the art of magic to become a competent stage performer.
During his battle with cancer, Tom found himself a patient periodically at the Veterans Hospital in West Haven, Connecticut, where he continued to spread his good cheer, “groaner” puns, his sketchbook drawings and pocketful of close-up magic for the hospital nurses, doctors and visitors, Tom had such an impact on the hospital staff that he was the subject of a seminar of nurses and doctors at the hospital.
Tom Prete never stopped giving his time and talent to the magic fraternity as well as to the many people who have enjoyed watching him and learning the art of magic from him. Through magic and his humorous personality, Tom Prete has helped numerous local magicians get started in magic.