A Magical Genius

Winston Freer was the inventor of the Tile Puzzle offered on this site and was considered to be a complex man and a magical genius.

Winston Freer was born in St. Albans, Vermont on August 21, 1910. He died on April 29th, 1981 in a VA Hospital located in Bath, New York. He had been a "guest" for over 20 years of his life in the VA Hospital. He was 70 years old when he died.

How did he get interested in magic?

Don Howard is credited with helping foster the love of magic in Winston. Winston and Don remained friends all during Winston's life. Don lived his life out in St. Albans, Vermont where Winston was born and raised. But on January 5th, 2004 at the age of 95, Don passed away peacefully in his sleep. Another lover of magic has passed on to the great supreme mystery. Let us pay due respect. Don had passed many bits of information along to his long time pal Pat Sullivan. One of the bits of note is that Winston got a set of Tarbell magic books for his High School graduation gift.

On another note, in 1926 at the age of 16 Winston saw Howard Thurston perform and that undoubtedly influenced him. Winston went on to attend college at the University of Vermont from 1928 to 1932. After his college education he moved to the midwest and became a full time magician.

In the 30's he worked for Percy Abbott at Abbott's Magic in Colon, Michigan. Winston was a full time magician first using the name Alladin and later using the name Doc Maxam. Winston appeared throughout the Midwest and was hired by many corporations such as International Harvestor to entertain their executives.

In 1939 Percy Abbott described Winston's suspension illusion in the "Tops" magazine. (Published by Percy.) It caused quite a controversy since the claim was that a person from the audience could be used during the suspension and they would be none the wiser for the experience.

There is a famous story of Annemann implying that the photo of Freer doing the suspension while standing on a table with spectators sitting around the table was a fake photo. Freer's "spectator suspension" had many supporters who swore the photo was not a fake. They were present more than once when Winston performed this amazing feat. Don Howard was one of them. Don Howard claimed shortly before his death that it was a fact that the person Freer suspended was a genuine spectator from the audience, not a plant. It is conceivable that Winston could indeed perform this feat at certain locations.

The August, 1941 issue of the "Linking Ring" had an article on Winston Freer. The article was titled, "The most talked about man in magic." Don Howard is in the same picture as Winston in the article.

His effects include:

A unique linking ring routine.
A unique Chinese sticks routine.
A unique ball and vase routine.
A unique knife through arm routine.
A unique rice bowls routine.
A unique "freezing water in the hand" routine.
A unique egg bag routine.
A unique "growing tree" routine.
A spectator suspension!
A two dimensional version of the Tile Puzzle.
And of course, the present day 3 dimension Tile Puzzle.

Did Winston Freer write any magic material?

In 1939, he wrote a booklet titled the Alagen Rope. Winston also wrote a booklet titled, "25 Rice Bowl Methods". In 1954 he wrote and compiled "The Magic of Doc Maxam". If you are aware of any more, please let this writer know!

Winston served his country!

Winston was a veteran of WW II. He was in the Navy. He served as a weatherman, and he served his entire time on U.S. soil. But that does not detract from his service! Every service man in the war did their part to bring victory to the allies! Thank you veterans!

A tragic end to a brilliant career!

Winston went into a VA Hospital in Vermont in the late fifties suffering from mental illness. He was transferred to the New York VA Hospital later and he remained there until his death.

Winston's immediate family is gone, meaning his wife, son and daughter, as well as his brother. More distant family members are still alive.

This writer wishes to pay tribute to Winston Freer and thank him posthumously for his contributions to the magical fraternity! In all due respect, the man was a genius and loved magic. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have been here before us! Let us not forget! Thank you Winston!

Thanks to the following people for providing information.

Tim Trono
Don Howard
Pat Sullivan
Gene Matsuura

Winston Freer Tile Puzzle Page