Mark Wilson’s Hall of Magic Story 1

The Beginning and the Ground-Breaking!

The year was 1964.1 was 14 years old and this was the year that a World’s Fair was opening in New York City. For years I had heard from my parents how great the coming World’s Fair would be. I was fascinated by the fact that so much would be built only to be torn down and destroyed two years later. There would be all kinds interesting things to see. I had heard for years about the 1939 New York World’s Fair and seen lots of black-and-white photos from that time. A year before the ’64 fair opened, my family had already purchased special discount admission tickets being promoted constantly in the papers. The fair was touted as being a “showplace nine times as big as the Seattle Fair of 1962.”

Mark Wilson - Unisphere in construction-photo by Irving Desfor-1964-65 NYWF  Photo taken in 1963

Preparations for the fair had begun in 1960, a full four years before the planned opening. The New York World’s Fair 1964-1965 Corporation was formed and published a progress report three times a year.  These reports were published in the form of a glitzy magazine. After all, their purpose was a public relations effort to attract exhibitors and hype the fair. The first issue came out towards the end of 1960. As companies signed on, they were listed in subsequent issues, along with drawings and models of their proposed exhibit.

Mark Wilson, Rebo, and Nani Darnell posing with the executives of General Cigar

In the seventh issue, published January 24,1963, 1-5 months before the fair was to open, recent additions to the exhibitor list included General Cigar. In the eighth issue, published exactly one year before the fair was to open, General Cigar had apparently not yet decided exactly what its exhibit would be. The magazine reported, “Both the building and a surrounding landscaped area at the General Cigar company site will provide an attractive place for visitors to rest.” By the ninth issue, only seven months before the opening, we see evidence of just what General Cigar was planning.

NYWF Corp. Folder - front

NYWF Corp. Folder - back

Among the photos of different companies building their exhibits was a photo captioned, “Actress Penny Edwards, (Miss Tiparillo) ‘floats’ over the site of the General Cigar exhibit at the fair as General Cigar President Edgar M. Cullman turns the first shovelful of earth at the ground-breaking ceremonies.

Penny Edwards, Mark Wilson, Edgar M. Cullman

General Cigar Annual Report pg. 3

General Cigar Annual Report pg. 4

Assisting is magician Mark Wilson, producer of the magic show which will be featured at the pavilion.” Also shown was a photo of an architect’s model of the pavilion.

The building was designed by Structural Display Company and was constructed by the Turner Construction Company. Turner built several other exhibits including the Johnson’s Wax building, the General Motors exhibit, and Disney’s Carousel of Progress, which debuted at the fair for the General Electric Company. All were among the top exhibits at the fair.

Miss Tiparillo with General Cigar Exec.s

Miss Tiparillo at Ground Breaking

There's a lot more story... 

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