Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville is the eternal home to many Kentucky luminaries, including George Rogers Clark (Revolutionary War hero), Nicola Marschall (designer of the Confederate Flag), and the face of the Kentucky Fried Chicken empire, Colonel Sanders. But none of these famed Kentuckians can hold a candle in terms of detail, scale, or overall coolness to the life-sized memorial of Louisville’s most popular magician, Harry Leon Collins.
Born in 1920 in Glasgow, Kentucky, Harry became interested in magic after a local attorney amazed him with tricks. He entered the Marines during World War II and was wounded in Saipan (part of the Pacific campaign). His magic skills didn’t go unnoticed and he was assigned to the Special Services, the entertainment branch of the American military. He joined jazz musician Bob Crosby’s traveling USO show, “This Is The Army Show” where the young solider honed his techniques.
After serving, Collins returned to the United States, moved to the big city (Louisville), and got a job as a salesmen at Frito-Lay, the purveyor of many a snack food. For the next twenty years, he was a Frito-Lay man by day and “Mr. Magic,” Louisville’s most popular magician by night. He loved both jobs so much that the magic word for every one his tricks was “Frito-Lay!”
In 1970, Frito-Lay realized what they had and named “Mr. Magic” their official corporate magician. He traveled across the country and world, performing magic tricks and paying homage to corn chips. Its rumored that he even became the mentor for Lance Burton, world-renown magician and Vegas veteran.
As one approaches the life-sized memorial to Mr. Magic, with his arm out beckoning visitors to watch his next trick, you can almost hear him exclaim those magic words…”Frito-Lay!”
Know Before You Go
The grave can be found in section 33, lot 38.