Jimmy Grippo

The Jimmy Grippo Story
This is verbatim from Jimmy Grippo’s notes about a book he wanted to write.The following are some notes from my future book. It will no doubt be very interesting and a best seller: First of all, I am a magician and hypnotist. During my lifetime, I have come in contact with high society, average people, mobsters, the New York crowd etc. You might say I have seen it all. Presently I perform at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. It gives me a chance to meet some of the most interesting people in the world. Here are just a few brief notes…….

1. Some Japanese businessmen were so amazed with my performance,
they requested an x-ray of my person to prove that I don’t use
mechanical equipment. I obliged, and nothing was found.

2. While entertaining at President Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park,
I suggested that he use “fireside chats”. There wasn’t television
at the time, and he wanted a way to reach the public more often.
Looking at the fireside at his home, I suggested fireside chats.
He was so impressed, he adopted the slogan in all his national
radio broadcasts.

3. I hypnotised Walter Winchell every Sunday night for his famous
broadcasts, “Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at see”. His
stomach would swell up from nerves and hypnosis kept him calm and
reassured. Winchell would meet me every night at midnight to make
the rounds at all the New York late night hangouts to gather
information for his daily newspaper column.

4. The police threatened to arrest me for obstructing traffic on
Broadway in New York.

5. Penny, a beautiful Latin Quarter showgirl, and the handcuff

6. The story of “Fat Tony Balone”.

7. My friendship with boxing promoter Jim Norris and his daughter.

8. My competition with “Evil Eye” Finkel.

9. Tony Galanto at Joe Williams home, the editor of the World

10. Fidel Castro and me, a very interesting account of my
performance, and he calling me, “Diablo”.

11. Mobster Petie Redshirt.

12. Jack Soloman from London, he was a famous boxing promoter.

13. Dr. Kramer turned out to be one of the most famous docters in
South Africa through hypnosis.

14. Tom McGinty and his famous casino the Mounds Club, outside of
Cleveland. His casino was a beautiful as any Las Vegas casino. All
gaming stopped, while McGinty made me perform for his sharp
dealers and bosses.

15. The night McGinty’s casino was robbed by 11 men with machine
guns, robbing the casino and the patrons.

16. Ray Arcel and “Battling” Norfolk.

17. Jacob Rupert, the beer baron and the half dollar trick that
earned me $100,000, to teach his sales force.

18. Cleo Shans and Freddy Summers.

19. Nino Valdez and Bobby Gleason.

20. Mobster Willie Moretti, the real “Godfather”, a great story.

21. Swifty Morgan and some great inside stories.

22. Frank Costello’s party and in a secluded road house guarded by
machine guns. Numerous bigwigs and movie stars were present.

23. Jimmy Hoffa and the hotel he was going to build for me in Las
Vegas. The last four hours before he vanished.

24. Joe Adonis, the mobster, a long story.

25. Lindy’s restaurant and all the characters that hung out

26. My experience with Onassis, and his million dollar ring.

27. The story with B. S. Pully.

28. Performing for boxing champ Rocky Graziano, in the nude
because the “boys” though that I had phony gimmicks up my sleeve,
or having false pockets.

29. Ali and Spinks.

30. The police arrested the bookmakers at Duke’s Restaurant, Piggy
Lynch saved me from the rap.

31. The card game with Joe Adonis at Duke’s Restaurant and how I
beat a mob guy out of $60,000, then returned it just to prove a

32. The Brooke Club and Mr. Sinclaire in Miami Beach.

33. Carol Chaning, hypnosis and losing weight. Evon Adair was also

34. Angelo Dundee and hypnosis.

35. Floating crap games in Lodi, New Jersey with Morretti and

36. Elsa Maxwell’s parties and my exclusive entertainment.

37. The famous Conover Agency and Mr. Conover’s beautiful girls.

38. Davie Giger and the “21” Club.

39. Johnny Brodick.

40. Why James Forrestal committed suicide. He was the Secretary of

41. Bobby Thorne washed off one battleship onto another during

42. King of Siam and his eye condition, we became great friends.
How Yul Brenner consulted me in playing the lead in the King and

43. I put London TV viewers in a trance, and how I corrected the

44. The Sha of Iran, and how I gave him a command performance in
his palace three times.

45. My command performances for King George of England.

46. Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden.

47. Winchell predicting a killing of a mobster the day before.

48. The story of Damon Runyon.

49. Morretti’s mob influence in New Jersey.

50. Sam Giancanna at Frank Sinatra’s party.

51. Morretti’s death and Johnny Roberts.

52. Jim Kelly, the self appointed mayor of the eastside.

53. The incident when two card cheaters tied me up and threatened
to throw me into a lake.

54. Owney Madden and the mayor of New York, a great story.

55. Madden’s desire to take over my fighter Melio Bettina.

56. Frenchy Damane and Owney Madden.

57. Griffith and Parit, a title fight.

58. State Police Chief, at Fiskill, New York.

59. McGinty and the Desert Inn Hotel.

60. McGinty’s fear of flying.

61. Lou Costello, his wife, and how I avoided a problem for them.

62. James Farley, how he remembered names, he was a campaign
manager for Roosevelt.

63. Boxing commissioner Brown, Gen. Phelan and Mike Jacobs, and
Donovan the referee controlled the boxing game.

64. President Truman and the Buleback Hotel in Kansas City. The
Pendergast machine.

65. Joe Gould, Jim Braddock’s manager controlled by Madden.

66. Billy Rose, the diamond horseshoe and the vanishing birdcages.

67. Fat Tony Salerno and the Scopitone machine.

68. Dave Feld in Al King in Cleveland.

69. Max Baer and Encil Hoffman.

70. Jimmy Johnson and Joe Gould maneuvering for the title.

71. Why Bugsy Siegal was killed.

72. Jonny Rosselli and Las Vegas and Hollywood.

73. Meyer Lansky.

74. Anastasia and the boys.

75. Tony and the Village Club with Pearl Bailey.

76. George Raft.

77. The dinner party with gourmet cook Joe Adonis and Meyer

78. Phyllis McGuire and Sam Mooney

79. Roberta Sherwood.

80. George Raft, dancing and Owney Madden.

81. Sam Moony


Posted by Geno Munari at 1:32 PM No comments: Links to this post
The Legendary Jimmy Grippo

If it were not for Jimmy Grippo, I would probably have not have been so deeply involved in magic today. I might still be a Sunday afternoon parlor magician, which is not bad, but not as much fun an rewarding as enjoying magic each day. Even though I began learning magical effects when I was only 8 years old, I probably would still be doing the same tricks that everyone else performed. Nothing great, but adequate.
My father and mother, Geno and Rose Munari, encouraged me. My mother was associated with Louie St. Pierre, the second owner of Hollywood Magic Company. Mr. St. Pierre told my mother that I
could have anything that I saw in an old Douglasland Magic catalog for one-half the price. He was a nice man. I took advantage of his generosity.

I frequented Hollywood Magic Company every weekend. Some
weekends I would go to Bruce’s Haunted House in Glendale. I would
make it an all day excursion on the bus. Hollywood was especially
neat because their were plenty of odd characters to look at while
riding through Hollywood. And the magic shop was full of tricks!
I never wanted to leave. My mom would give me a few dollars and I
was in seventh heaven. I would stay as long as management would

Frank Ross was ever so kind to me and always said, “Buy books,
they are better than tricks.” That was hard for me to understand,
but I did take his advice. I learned many tricks, but still like
most young boys, I wanted big props.

I’ll never forget when I was 12 years old and broke my leg at
the local park on the monkey bars. I was laid up for the whole
summer of 1958. My father was so good to me, knowing that was
laid up for the summer with a broken leg. He went to Hollywood
Magic and bought me a neat coin through glass that Thayer built.
He also bought me Scarne’s Book of 200 Magic Tricks. Scarne’s
tricks were and are still great. Little did I know then that I
would meet Jimmy Grippo, one of Scarne’s best friends. In
Scarne’s book on card magic, I probably read over the trick that
Jimmy Grippo submitted many times.

I moved to Las Vegas in 1964 and met Gary Meador, a.k.a. Darwin,
who was a bellman at the Sahara Hotel. My cousin, Frank Schivo,
was one of the owners of the Sahara, coming to Las Vegas from
Butte, Montana with Milton Prell in the late 40’s. He arranged
a job for me. I went to U.N.L.V. by day and bused dishes by

In about 1970, I met Jimmy Grippo. Jimmy would come to the
Dunes Hotel and perform tricks on the baccarat table
when nobody was playing. Jimmy knew all of the owners from either
New York or Miami. Jimmy’s influence on me changed my entire
thinking about magic. I had never ever seen anybody perform like
Jimmy! He knocked my socks off. He still knocks my socks off.
I would go to Caesars and have dinner in the Bacchanal Room just
to see his magic. And then meet him on Wednesday night at the
magic club that would meet at Pat’s Chineese Kitchen, the
Colonial House, or some other late night hangout that Gary Meador
would find.

Jimmy and I hit it off very well. He used to come out to my
casino and do tricks for my dealers. I couldn’t wait for him to
show up.

In 1981, Jimmy and I published “The Magic of Jimmy Grippo”. In
this book I edited a manuscript that Jimmy had put together more
than forty years before. The tricks and the style that Jimmy
performed in was radically different than the style that I knew,
and most of the vip guests of Caesars Palace knew. Jimmy did not
want to add any of his “Caesars” material for fear that everyone
would be doing it. I took a great financial risk publishing this
book, because I was of the understanding that it would include
some of the “Caesars” material.

The description of Jimmy’s performance has been captured in rare
appearance on the Johnny Carson Show and Merv Griffin. Those
fortunate to view these performances will realize the value of the
magic of Jimmy Grippo. His approach, his way in handling
big-shots, his manners were all examples for me to learn from. He
helped me in my presentation of magic. There has been no better
presentation of close-up magic anywhere. I thank you Jimmy.
I probably have been the biggest collector of Grippobilia than
anyone on earth. If I did not write this book, all of my
observations, notes, antedotes, fun, and descriptions of Jimmy’s
magic would be lost forever. Hence my motive in writing the

Jimmy did not originate all of the magical effects he performed,
but he did them in a special manner. The stories and effects that
I have described are from my observations and notes, and strictly
from my point of view, with the hope that the legacy of Jimmy
Grippo has not diminished with the immortality that we all face.

Jimmy, wherever you are, please forgive me for wanting your
legacy to continue.