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Goodbye Denny Haney


Magician, magic-shop owner, friend and mentor to countless magician, Denny Haney died the other day of cancer. A Vietnam vet who went on to a career as a professional magician after his return, he later opened the Denny & Lee Magic Shop outside Baltimore.

This note was posted online:

Friends of the Magic Community,

It is with heavy hearts that we must announce the passing of one of the greatest contributors to our art. Last night, Denny Haney passed. He wanted to give back to the magic community so he took the money he earned on the road, and opened up a studio where magicians could come and learn, practice their craft, rehearse and exchange ideas.

As many of you know, his daughter Dawn has been running the shop during his illness. We kindly ask that you respect his family’s privacy at this time and refrain from calling. We will continue to process orders in a few days. We will be updating with more information about Memorial Services as they become available.

Thank you,

The Denny & Lee Magic Studio

Denny was one of those unique individuals who seemed a relic (in the best way) of another time. He will be missed by many.

His friend Alain Nu wrote this Tribute to Denny Haney of Denny & Lee:

The man who was like a father to me for 35 years of my life died yesterday at age 73. Many considered him to be the consummate pro in the business back when he was at the top of his game. Many saw him as one of the last classic magicians whose mastery of sleight of hand, manipulation and illusion far surpassed 99% of the magicians in the world. Many saw him as a historian who loved the history of magic as if he was actually there for hundreds of years learning it all along the way. However, for most people, Denny was just a magic shop keeper, who shared stories from his past, almost as if it was a completely different lifetime back then. He mostly shared stories that he saw would be relevant to a lesser experienced magician who might listen to them, but he rarely shared stories of himself and how truly great HE WAS.
I was there. From 1984 to 1994, I watched Denny while working for him as his stage manager, and after seeing as many people as I have, I can say that VERY FEW will ever come close to matching Denny’s power to present perfectly executed magic for even years to come. Many magicians have a nasty habit of creating short-cuts in their knowledge based on what THEY LIKE. So they won’t even think about things outside of their tastes. Denny was the one who taught me that ALL MAGIC WORKS, and it is up to the magician to make it shine with his mastery. Magicians who have watched Denny for years would applaud his use of the classics, while not realizing that what they were actually watching was a PERFECT EXECUTION of that classic in magic. If they broke down everything that Denny did, they would be breaking down only the most contextualized motivations combined with a perfect ability to use direction and misdirection. So yes, Denny performs the classics. But VERY FEW can perform the classics with that much thought going into it.
Denny was also Vietnam veteran, and spent six tours of duty there even after the Vietnam War. Denny loved the Vietnamese, and I guess that made me lucky. I met Denny at a beautiful but short-lived magic-themed nightclub on the East coast near DC, after only hearing of his reputation. Back then, you only would hear about the current greats in magic based on only their reputation. Back then, there was no internet. I was 18 at the time, and Denny asked me if I wanted a job going on the road with him. First I said no, but then the night club closed down, so I called him and said, “Hey, about that job…” And that was the beginning of my life as a professional entertainer.
As I sit here thinking, I realize that there is actually just too much to say about Denny. Once, after being with him for only three years, I remember it was after his show, and after a standing ovation and several post-show accolades, Denny was relaxing with a cigarette (in the hotel ballroom!) while I was packing up the show. A young 10 year old boy walked up to him and said “Excuse me, but how old are you?” Denny replied “I’m 42 years old.” The boy looked at him, paused and then said, “You’re old.” At that point, Denny, without missing a beat, said “Well, the thing is, I already know I made it to 42. See, you don’t even know if you are going to live to 42, at your age.” I looked at the face of that smart-ass kid, and what I could read was that he really wanted to come up with a smart answer to retort back to Denny, but he was left speechless and I will never forget that moment. That is just one example of me being a fly on the wall while in the presence of Denny. I have a zillion of them.
Denny was the most conservative guy I have ever loved. The only thing about Denny and I was that we never really agreed on politics, But our relationship from the beginning was built on something far greater and less breakable than politics. Our relationship was based on magic.
I will miss you so much, my friend!