Thomas Rochford Auburn was born on July 7th, 1917. The seventh day of the seventh month of the seventeenth year of last century at the seventh hour! What a magical beginning!
His life has been no stranger to tragedy, and perhaps this has helped to give him the strength of character he has always exhibited. Tom was only two months old when his father died, and at the age of three he went to live with an aunt and uncle. The small boy growing up in Verdon, Québec, Canada, went through local schools then moved to Montreal and graduated from high school in 1936. His aunt, who had so greatly encouraged him was dying in a hospital and could not see the ceremony she had so much anticipated. His only sister had been killed in an accident three years earlier.
In childhood, Tom purchased a copy of Dunnigers's « Popular Magic ». He also received from his cousin a twenty-five cent book called « Thurston's Card Tricks ». Then, at the age of twelve scarlet fever struck. It was a serious case and a long period of quarantine was followed by an even longer period of convalescence. Staying in bed, resting, no visitors allowed and only the two books for company, Tom studied avidly. He learned manipulation and other skills to perform close-up magic. He presented his first public show at the age of fifteen. At first he performed with a mask, then as he gained confidence, the masked magician gave way to the « Great Auburn » and eventually « Magic Tom » Auburn. His early reception was so encouraging that he proceeded to book every engagement he could secure, partly for income, but mainly to improve his technique by constant performance.
Out in the adult world he made his decision for professional magic, and this has been his career until the end of his life. One of his fine publicity techniques was the use of predictions, which quickly built him a reputation throughout eastern Canada. Then a lucky break enabled him to fill in for another magician at the Tic Toc Club in Montreal. He went over very well and the patrons thought he was an « American » act. The success was inevitable. This new guy was performing very good magic, had a wonderful interaction with the audience and had a remarkable charm.
Tom joined the « Society of American Magicians » on January 6th, 1940 and was appointed Chairman of the Honorary Membership Committee. He was also Honorary President of the Montreal local, the Maple Leaf Assembly no. 58.
On November 6th, 1941 he enlisted in the Canadian Army during the Second World War. During his army career as a sergeant he carried out his military duties but also formed the «Military Caravan Show» with other army personnel. All together, they entertained at Military Camps and hospitals. As an army magician, his organized shows were a great asset and used for recruiting male and female personnel as well as entertaining the troop in English and French throughout the Country. In March 1945, he was given a medical discharge. Overall, Tom gave over 1,500 performances while in the army.
On Valentine's Day 1942, he married his childhood sweetheart, Dolores, who has always enthusiastically encouraged his career, though she never worked in the act. They had two children, Byron Thomas and Darlene Pamela.
English language commercial television arrived in Montreal on February 21st, 1961 and Channel 12 was offering « Surprise Party » starring Tom Auburn. This weekly feature, later known as « The Magic Tom Road Show » became the longest-running program in Montreal history. During this time Tom gave over 4,000 broadcasts and acquired a huge and loyal following of youngsters and the enthusiastic support of their parents, who liked the high tone of his offering and approach. The station averaged 20,000 letters a year praising the show. Sadly, after fifteen years, a newspaper headline announced « ...the magic leaves Channel 12. »
He was always ready to perform for hospitals, bringing laughter to lonesome and frightened kids. He also sat for hours holding hands or doing some magic tricks to kids with only a few days left on Earth. The next day, Tom often received a phone call from the hospital to be advised they had passed away, still holding some little toy given to them by Magic Tom.
The biggest star of magic in the province of Quebec moved to French language television in the mid 70s and performed for that segment of the children's population. The mass of publicity he received in the late 1975 and 1976 was stunning.
He received many awards and certificates from community groups, churches, service clubs, corporations, hospitals and homes for the aged. One organization even gave him a gold watch on the occasion of his twenty-fifth annual appearance at its yearly banquet!
From November 1982 to April 1983 he performed on the Island of Maui in Hawaii doing over 45 performances and on March 3rd, 1983 « Magic Tom Auburn Day » was proclaimed by the Council of Maui and a Testimonial Luncheon was held in his honour.
Throughout his career he has given away many times the only thing he had to sell « his talent » and through his talent he has raised thousands of dollars for different events in Quebec and Ontario. He also appeared on all the local telethons to raise money for the St. Justine and Montreal Children's hospitals both in French and English, as well as many radio programs.
Source: The Society of American Magicians and Dolores Auburn.