Aw Shit Y’All! Please Re-Visit This. I Did. “Not The Waltons” Dedicated to My Much-Missed B’Lov’d Sister. Her Early, Premature Death Broke Me–Mentally. Until I Cash My Chips, I Will Mourn Her. For, For Forever.

Me & Madelyn–Madelyn & Me:

For Madelyn


You will undoubtedly notice the absence of one “Lance A. Marcom” in the list of family members surviving one Ralph A. Marcom.  But I was after all, the “Black Sheep.” I have, since the publishing of this obit,

Marcom the Mountebank

Ralph Anson Marcom, D.O., M.I.M.C.
March 30, 1934 – October 13, 2010


MarcoM the Mountebank has left the building.

I first met Ralph Marcom at a Texas Association of Magicians convention in Abilene, Texas, in 1972. He was a rotund, albeit somewhat taciturn fellow with a Saturnine countenance whose gift for humor and wit and whose intelligence struck me as something quite beyond the pale.

I watched him perform in two different contest shows, one of which was quite serious, the other quite comical. He won the Comedy trophy that year. He was one of only a few performers who won three trophies at T.A.O.M. conventions. In 1971, he won the close-up trophy and in 1973, he repeated his win of the comedy trophy. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Ralph Anson Marcom was born in Levelland, Texas, a small town about 30 miles west of Lubbock. His father was an osteopath, but Ralph expressed no interest at all in going into the family business. Because of a peculiar eye ailment, his doctor prescribed that he spend as much time as possible in dark places, so he chose to do this in the local movie theater. As a result, he became a veritable goldmine of movie trivia. Woe to the would-be trivia expert who challenged Marcom in the field of the cinema!

His heritage was part English, part French and part Gypsy. He grew up next to an Italian family, and as a result spoke English, French, Italian and Rom with equal fluency. He also managed to pick up a bit of German, some Russian and some Arabic as well.

During the Korean War, he served in the Marines, as a drill instructor, and later, as a medic. After the war, he got a job as a radio announcer in El Paso, Texas. He kept this job for several years, and then decided to go into the family business. Soon Ralph Anson Marcom became Ralph A. Marcom, D.O. and he set up shop in Honey Grove, Texas.

Ralph had a penchant for the theater. In the early 1960s, he happened into Douglas Magicland, in Dallas, Texas where the lady behind the counter, Gloria Jacobsen Palmer, caught his eye. In 1968, they married, and he took her away from “all that.”

The Marcom manse in Honey Grove, Texas was legendary for its Addams family-like appearance. The basement contained a dungeon, complete with rack and iron maiden, and the decorations were, shall we say, just a bit out of the ordinary. If one climbed the stairs to the third floor, one would encounter a stuffed orangutan, dressed in morning coat and striped trousers, safely ensconced in a child’s casket.

Marcom authored a number of books, including:
The Magic of MarcoM
MarcoM Presents Magic
Licentious Limericks
This Rough Magic (I & II)(Lectures)
MarcoM Magic: Tricks You Can Do
And The Winner Is…
Rimes Without Reason
A Slim Volume
“…from the table of my memory…”
Lord of Legerdemain

His column, “…from the table of my memory” ran for several years in the Linking Ring. His other awards include the close-up trophy at the Midwest Magic Jubilee, 1974, 1976 and 1977, and at the IBM convention in 1979. He was the SAM Limerick Laureate in 1978. His close associates included the late Frank Caple, the late Van Cleve, the late Logan Pritchett, the late Jay Palmer, Earle Christenberry, Jr. and his wife, Gladys, Bill and Irene Larsen, Joe and Martha Stevens, and a host of other truly memorable performers.

He came out to see me one year at the Texas Renaissance Festival, and immediately recognized this type of venue as one to which he was extremely well-suited. Within a year or so, he was a regular at Scarborough Faire in Waxahachie, Texas, and a performer at the Texas Renaissance Festival, as well.

Ralph was a member of The Society of American Magicians, The International Brotherhood of Magicians, The Texas Association of Magicians and the Magic Circle of London (Member of the Inner Magic Circle, with Gold Star). He was a charter member of the Tyler, Texas Magic Club.

There lay a heart of gold beneath that Saturnine countenance. Often, when performing at Scarborough Faire, he provided free medical attention to those performers and other participants who had no way of actually paying for it.

He did not tolerate fools gladly. One afternoon, the management of Scarborough Faire presented him with a letter from a disgruntled patron who apparently was a member of a group called “Texans Against Ritualistic Abuse.” The letter stated, “We wish to complain about your magician, the one who wears the pentagram — not that nice Merlin fellow, but the other one.”

Marcom was very angry about this; not because they didn’t like the pentagram, but because they couldn’t remember his name! He said, “I say the phrase ‘O Great MarcoM’ at least twenty times during that show! How could they miss that?”

In early 2003, Ralph suffered a massive stroke. Ron Boulden, former entertainment director of Scarborough Faire called me, and told me that Marcom was “out of it.” I called Ralph, and he was completely impossible to understand. I immediately called his daughter, Madelyne, who got Ralph to the hospital in nearby Paris, Texas. From there he was flown to Park Lane Hospital in Dallas, where he remained for almost a month. He gradually recovered.

Unfortunately, in early October, he suffered another stroke, but this time, nobody knew until it was too late. He was taken to the same hospital in Paris, Texas on October 9.

He passed away in the same ICU as his late wife Gloria, who died in 2002. He would have appreciated the fact that he died on October 13.

Ralph Marcom’s survivors include his daughters Madelyne Marcom and Nicolette Palmer, his son Thomas Palmer, Jr. and thousands of friends and fans world-wide.

There will be no funeral services, but a broken wand ceremony will be held some time in 2011.

Bill Palmer, M.I.M.C.

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spoken to Bill Palmer, (Its author and actually a very good friend of mine now.) regarding this and he told me that it—ME—must have slipped his mind, as I was always thousands of miles away in some desert or similar out-of-touch, unreachable “shit hole.”

Thanks Bill.

Marcom Manor


When my father met my mother at ETSU (East Texas State University) he was studying French and Drama. That really couldn’t pay the bills, so he later (forced by his father) became a physician,

but not before working as a Disc Jockey in almost every small-town hick radio station in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. He also did a stint on a late night TV show in Kansas City in the early Sixties, dressing up as Dracula or Satan, running horror movies and doing all the commercials (Think Elvira in reverse drag).

I lived with him and my first step-mother there in Kansas City for a brief spell

(before my mother hired a private detective, tracked me down, and kidnapped me back—another story how/why all that had to happen) and don’t remember much of it, except hating my ‘evil’ stepmother (she forced liver down me, which I found disgusting then, but love now.).

Years later I discovered she wasn’t all that ‘evil’ and that the only reason she forced me to eat liver was that it was ‘good for me.’ Okay, maybe she was evil.


Many years later, after doing that nickel (prison ‘vernacular’) in Fremont and a short stint with my maternal grandparents in East Texas, I moved  in with my father in Honey Grove and second stepmother (most decidedly more ‘evil’ than the first, and in more subtle and damaging ways, especially for a boy who was ‘coming of age’ and with all the teenage angst that that manifests.)

My father had purchased a three and a half story Victorian house (circa ‘Texas Victorian’ 1880) in HG and remodeled it beautifully.

The place resembled the mansion inhabited by The Addams Family. Literally. Daddy (Texans always call their fathers “Daddy” even when they are in their fifties–don’t ask me why because I don’t know) was by then a proper doctor, but his passion was magic (anything to keep performing, it would seem) and he was very good at it. His specialty was ‘close up’ and he did become a semi-famous person, at least in the Magic Community.

He also performed at Scarborough Faire, a semi-famous annual Renaissance Festival held in Waxahachie (Texas of course).

He converted the basement into a ‘dungeon’ and rigged up all manner of dungeon devices for his and his guests’ amusement.

There was a coffin standing upright in one corner with a mummified statue inside. He told everyone that the mummy was his first wife. As far as I knew, my “mum” was his first wife and still remained very much Un-mummified, but it would have been poor form to point this out to the credulous.

My new step-mother had her own magic act performing as Vampira and family legend has it that she, Gloria, was offered the role of “Morticia” in the Sixties’ TV show Addams Family—which I seriously doubted then and now.

The fatal attraction between my father and Gloria was a foregone conclusion, and since the two of them married on Halloween, naturally Halloween became The Holiday for us (remember Madelyn? She was there too—one year my senior).

Every Halloween, she and I would go out to the ‘farm,’ a forty-acre tract of land outside Ladonia that my father had inherited from his father, and chop down the ugliest, scraggliest, dead tree we could find and bring it back to Marcom Manor. This became our ‘Halloween Tree.” Little witches, ghosts, goblins, spiders, snakes and whatever else seemed appropriate were hung on this tree.

Gifts were placed underneath. It was great fun and I did love our special holiday. In celebration of this anniversary my father and step-mother would throw a huge, and I do mean huge, party every year on the Saturday closest to Halloween.

Magicians and ‘civilians’ would come from all over Texas and also many from states as far removed from Texas as New York and California for the party, which actually would begin on Thursday night and not end until Monday morning.

Many of the guests arrived in motor homes or stayed at the house if they arrived early enough, and the other out-of-towners stayed at whatever motel they could find in Paris, Texas twenty miles away.

The house was perfect for such a soiree too. Madelyn and I had the entire third floor to ourselves and would invite all our friends upstairs for our own party. Black light posters (and others) all of Dylan, Zeppelin, Moody Blues, and Beatles were in abundance as music, a different kind of magic, was our dominate theme.

The second floor was where my father had his study with a large round table (antique oak) where he would hold court and mystify all comers with his close-up magic.

The ground floor had a dining room with another antique oak table (which would seat fourteen) and also contained one of the five fireplaces that were in the house. The kitchen itself was probably larger than a small apartment.

On every floor there was at least one coffin and everywhere there was ‘Adams-Family-esque’ décor to the point of making the entire place almost a caricature of itself.

In my father’s study directly behind his chair was a complete skeleton he had ‘liberated’ from med school. He kept the top half of a human skull (which he told me once belonged to Hitler–Hell! I was credulous)  in front of him which he used as an ashtray for his King Edward cigars.

A small balsa-wood box contained a genuine shrunken head from Bora-Bora, or Ecuador, or some such place. One wall displayed no less than 30 hand guns, all loaded. I once asked “Daddy, why do you keep all the guns loaded?” He replied, “Son, if I need a gun, I will most likely need one in a hurry, and there is nothing on Earth more useless than an unloaded gun.”

Over the gun display hung an airplane propeller, half of one anyway, splinters and jagged edges where once had been the rest of it—all that remained of my Father’s first two-seater plane. Apparently he was a self-taught pilot in his youth. And far too many other things like that to describe here…

To complete the ambiance, the outside of the house was patrolled by black cats—usually no less than thirteen

(I swear, I am not making this up) and a goodly number of those did double duty as house cats as well. For a while we kept a “token” white cat, but, never really standing a chance, he disappeared a few months after we introduced it to The Family. There was an old black Lincoln in the carport, right out of The Godfather—hell it was probably used in the movie.

My father and I never did see eye-to-eye however (and I do, maybe somewhat unjustly, blame a lot of this on my step-mother), and as soon as I graduated high school at seventeen, I moved out and rarely returned at all for visits. After the Houston and Lake Charles period (almost a year, as I recall), I came home just long enough to announce (with some satisfaction) that I was leaving for the job in the Sinai Desert and would not be back for at least ten years. I did have a love for the overly dramatic back then. I had just turned twenty.

My father and I were dangerously alike and I have spent a lot of energy over the years trying to overcome some of the character flaws I inherited from him. I must admit I have also lost some of the good characteristics he possessed. When I think of an example of one of those, I will be sure to let you know…

My Father used this quote on me and more than once:

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is

To have a thankless child! Away! Away!

–Lance, The Black Sheep

Baaaa, Baaaa, Baaaa

My father died sometime late 2010.

I was not there.

I was in some shit-hole, half way around the world. 

As was always my wont.

I miss him.

But I Miss My Maddy Step-Sis More

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