Dan Garrett’s unexpected passing from a sudden cardiac event marked both the end of a magical era in the state of Georgia and the conclusion of a career that influenced performers around the world.
Daniell Edward Garrett was born in Valdosta, Georgia on September 5, 1951, and spent most of his childhood in Douglas, the county seat of Coffee County. His childhood revolved around many interests including magic, acting, schoolwork, piano lessons, playing with his kid sister Janice, and even competing in and judging 4-H Club poultry contests.
In 1969 Dan’s academic prowess took him to Georgia Tech where he majored in physics and was involved with DramaTech, the student drama club. It was there that he met Dr. Charles Pecor who not only directed him in several productions but also encouraged his magical development. At the Baptist Student Union Dan met a young Georgia Baptist Hospital nursing student named Carol Jordan. Their romance would lead to marriage on April 1, 1973, just a few weeks after their respective graduations, soon after which they established a home in Decatur, Georgia.
During his college years and early adulthood Dan’s magical network began to grow. His connection with Charles Pecor led him to longstanding friendships with J.C. Doty, Tom Mullica, John Miller, Bob Carver, and Duke Stern. He took private lessons from Vernon and Slydini, attended lectures and competed at conventions, and over time his career goals evolved in a magical direction. He became the store manager of M&M Magic in Forest Park, Georgia, where he worked for a decade before selling his partnership stake to perform full time.
It wasn’t long before Dan became well-known throughout the magic community, lecturing and performing for generations of magicians. He wrote for and published effects in The Linking Ring, M-U-M, Genii, Apocalypse, The Trapdoor, The Minotaur, and many other publications. He published dozens of books and videos on his own magic and that of others. He became National President of the Society of American Magicians in 1994, an experience which he valued for the rest of his life. He was an MIMC in The Magic Circle and on the Board of Directors of FFFF, where he was a co-“Guest of Honor” (along with Gene Anderson) in 2005. Perhaps his favorite accolade was a quote from David Copperfield who said, “Dan Garrett has one of magic’s most entertaining and creative minds.”
Dan had many noteworthy performing experiences. One was his appearance as the “Magical Burger King” at a special event at Gator Bowl Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, where he landed midfield via helicopter. He was one of a team of magicians assembled to perform at the 2001 U.S. Presidential Inaugural Balls. And he was one of a small handful of magicians to be featured on “A Day of Magic” on CNN Headline News in 2002.
In my own life, my relationship with Dan was one of mutual respect and the natural ebbs and flows of men with many overlapping interests and strong opinions. Dan performed shows that my family and I attended during different seasons of our lives, from a show as “Dan the Wizard” when my daughter was little, to an appearance at Atlanta Magic Night in more recent years. It seemed that he would always be part of the magic environment in this part of the country. It is because of Dan’s influence that many of my own magical career experiences happened at all.
I was honored that his widow Carol asked me to lead Dan’s memorial service, where he was eulogized by Rolando Santos, Mark Merchant, David Ginn, me, and others. (The video of the service is linked at the web site of SAM Assembly 30, www.atlantamagicclub.com. It can be accessed directly here.)
Funny, skillful, witty, and now most of all, missed. Farewell, Dan, and thank you.