In today’s post, we’re sharing some fascinating insights and stories from the life of one of the greatest mentalist’s of history—Theodore Annemann.
(We’d like to thank ‘The Magic Detective’ for providing a lot of this information. Go check out that podcast if you haven’t already!)
His Life in Magic…
Theodore John Squires (later known as Theodore “Ted” Annemann) was born on February 22, 1907 in Waverly, New York.
He became interested in magic around age 10 after seeing a friend perform the ball and vase trick.
His mother disapproved of his interest in magic and burned all his books and props, leading to lifelong resentment from Ted!
As a teenager in the 1920s, Annemann began contributing tricks and articles to magic magazines like The Linking Ring and The Sphinx. He sometimes published effects without crediting the creators, earning him some enemies, two of those being Newman, the mentalist, and also Robert Geisel, the escape artist!
Annemann started performing as a mind reader in turban and cape, but magician Al Baker suggested he modernize his appearance. Though initially bitter rivals, Baker and Annemann later became close friends. In 1934, Annemann launched his own magazine called The Jinx, focusing on mentalism and card magic.
Annemann was best known for his dangerous version of the bullet catching trick using a method by Orville Meyer!
He struggled with health issues, alcoholism, panic attacks and mood swings. In financial difficulty, he committed suicide in January 1942 at age 34, leaving behind his second wife Janet and daughter Mona Lee.
Though troubled, Annemann made major contributions to the art of magic during his short but impactful life, which we’ll be exploring further…
But before we get into that, if you want to hear Theodore Anneman’s full story than I highly recommend you check out ‘The Magicians Detective Episode 38.’
In this episode you’ll learn all about Theodore Annemann, including…
- How a burning of magic books forged Annemann’s bitter determination
- How a ball and vase trick ignited his lifelong passion for magic
- The heated rivalry with Al Baker that sparked an enduring friendship
- The eerie cold hand shake gimmick that unnerved Annemann’s audiences
- Why his Jinx Five-Foot Shelf selection reveals key magic influences
- The quirky “Matter of Policy” card trick that could bring down the house
- Annemann’s dangerous fixation with the bullet catch illusion
- The repeated handcuff escapes that dazzled police chiefs
- How Annemann’s last show brought his demons into fatal alignment
- The tragic early loss of a tortured creative genius
- The holiday outreach mission inspired by Annemann’s lonely ending
Click HERE to listen to the story of the great Theodore Annemann!
The Jinx: The Greatest Magazine in Magic?
“‘I don’t care if the audience is 1 person and I need to employ 99 people to fool them—if that is the required method, that’s what I’ll do.’”
The Jinx was a notable magic periodical edited and published by Theodore Annemann from October 1934 to December 1941.
It started as a monthly magazine but switched to weekly publication with its 61st issue in October 1939. The magazine is often celebrated as one of the greatest magic magazines ever published, having significantly influenced the field of magic and mentalism. Many publications in the magic community have followed the format set by The Jinx.
The Jinx included a variety of content, ranging from mentalism and other magic effects to editorials and discussions about the magic community. After Annemann’s death, the publication of the magazine ceased, and original copies have since become collector’s items.
The content and effects from The Jinx have been compiled and published in various books and manuscripts, with Annemann’s Practical Mental Magic being considered a classic in the field of mentalism.
The Jinx Magazine (150+ issues)
Ask Alexander is an incredible resource for magicians ran by Conjuring Arts.
Use the link above to sign up for a free account and read 150+ back issues of Theodore Annemann’s classic ‘Jinx’ magazine!
Learn more about Ask Alexander here:
The Books He Left Us With…
Want 24 FREE classic magic books, including Practical Mental Magic? Click HERE
Theodore Anneman was most well known for three major works…
1: 202 Methods of Forcing (1933) – This book is a comprehensive guide on the methods of ‘forcing’ in magic and mentalism. Forcing is a technique where the performer influences a spectator’s choice in a way that appears random. Annemann’s book covers an extensive range of methods for forcing cards, numbers, and other items. Click HERE to view 202 Methods of Forcing.
2: Practical Mental Magic (1944) – This book is a compilation of Annemann’s mentalism effects. It includes a wide range of mentalism routines, including mind reading, predictions, psychic phenomena, and more. The book is organised and covers the principles and performance aspects of each effect. Click HERE to view Practical Mental Magic.
3: Sh-h-h–! It’s a Secret (1942) – This book delves into various aspects of magical performance, including tricks, theories, and psychological nuances. It’s a collection of effects and thoughts that reflect Annemann’s innovative approach to magic and mentalism. Click HERE to view Sh-h-h–! It’s a Secret!
Did you know?
We actually made a video adaption of Theodore Annemann’s famous book ‘202 Methods of Forcing’.
There are of course 202 forces in the book, but we wanted to get it down to something you could process and learn within an hour.
So here it goes…
the 22 card forces we’ve ‘cherry-picked’ and gone over in detail!
(We’ve also added our own modern twist to quite a few of them…)
- The Miscount Force – A genius method for placing a card at ANY chosen number, completely impromptu and the spectator is the one dealing the cards!
- The Number Force – You shuffle the deck and deal out 3 random cards, the spectator picks ANY of the cards (no magicians choice here) and you count down the value of the card in the deck, they land at your forced card!
- The Visual Force – You riffle through the deck and tell the spectator to glimpse ANY card, the card they glimpse will always be your force card.
- The Packet Force – A hilarious force that allows your spectator to pick 1 of 3 piles, your prediction about their choice will ALWAYS be correct.
- The Spirit Crosscut – A fantastic variation for the most fooling force of all – the crosscut force.
- The Palm Force – The spectator takes and genuinely cuts the deck ANYWHERE they want – they always cut to your force card.
- The Tray Force – A ballsy method for forcing either the left or right packet – with no magician’s choice.
- The Pass Force – The magician asks for any number, utilizing the pass, he instantly moves the force card to the correct spot.
- The Slip Force – The magician riffles through the deck telling the spectator they can tell him to stop at any point. He genuinely stops when asked – revealing the forced card at the chosen location.
- The Four Card Force – A devilish method with a 100% success rate at forcing 1 of 4 cards.
- The Runoff Force – You genuinely shuffle the deck in plain view of the spectator, telling them to name any number, they name the number – you will ALWAYS deal down to your force card.
- The Old Force – This is one of the most classic forces that has been used for centuries. It’s extremely easy.
- The Water Fountain Force – You overhand shuffle the deck, telling the spectator to stop you at any point, when they call stop, they arrive at your forced card.
- The Coin Force – A hilarious method for forcing a packet of cards, using just 7 coins.
- High Card Force – The spectator picks out a packet of cards, they pick one card from the packet, this card will ALWAYS be your force card. (also included a full mem deck routine using this method…)
- The Impossible Prediction Force – This force like many others could be its own routine! The spectator reaches into the deck and picks out a card – you tell them whatever the value of the card is will be how far you deal down in the deck. Whatever the value – 6,7,8, you always land on the force card.
- The Blatant Force – A ridiculously ballsy method for forcing a card when a number under 15 is named. (also included a theory on how to apply this method using the mem deck and ACAAN…)
- The reversal force – an easy method for forcing a card at ANY named number (only one move required to pull this off, and minimal setup…)
- The Crosscut Force – the most fooling force in all of magic (as proved by psychologists)
- The Brave Force – As indicated by the name, a ridiculous force that requires a lot of bravery to pull off – but when it works you’ll always force the top card at ANY desired number. (also included a full routine that works with this method…)
- The Joker Force – Force two cards at a random position the spectator cuts to, all using just a joker card.
- The Chan Canasta Force – An entirely mental force that works 70% of the time, and works off the premise of genuinely free choice.
Now that’s a lot of forces – View our videos HERE
Thanks for reading our post on the sad life of Theodore Anneman! If you struggle to digest classic magic literature, like the Jinx Magazine and the magic books I’ve recommended, than I’m going to be direct with you…
You’re missing out!
I literally found the method for one the best selling magic tricks of 2023 in a single throwaway paragraph written by Theodore Annemann! No joke!
But, don’t worry you’re not alone.
Our friend Danny Goldsmith (considered by many the world’s best coin magician) recently lamented to us that he learns better from video and struggles with classics such as Bobo—that would otherwise undoubtedly hold so much power for him.
So we decided to tackle this problem head on like a Rhino (some of these magic books had effects simply to good to let them rest and collect dust)!
First, we spent hours upon hours pouring over these books, sifting through the material, and finding the very best ‘hidden gems’.
And there were a LOT of them.
Next, we spent nearly two weeks practically living in our studio, filming high quality videos going over each of these tricks and making them as EASY to understand as possible.
Our goal was to do ALL the hard work for you.
We’ve taken these tricks, added our own modernizations, touches, alternate handlings and most importantly brought them into the modern age in the form of video.
We’ve also made sure the original excerpts are right below the video because reading and watching can create an even better experience!
Take a sneak peek…