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Harry Lorayne: The Yoda of Memory Training
Harry Lorayne is one of the great memory men of the twentieth century — a fine performer, actor and lecturer. Hundreds of companies, including the likes of IBM, US Steel and General Electric, have hired him to conduct seminars on mind power and memory training. And he has appeared on just about every American TV show, including Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, and The Today Show.
Lorayne grew up in the depression years of the late 1920s and 1930s, in New York's Lower East Side. After dropping out of high school because his family had no money, he held a number of errand and clerking jobs, all of them low paid. In World War II, he ended up working in the Army accounting office because of his aptitude for figures. There he met and married his present wife and decided to go into show business at the end of the war.
Ever since the age of eight, Lorayne had been fascinated by magic. (He has written fifteen books for other magicians and is a highly respected teacher.) He began to play small nightclubs in New York, where his exceptional skills began to be noticed. Once or twice, he introduced simple memory feats, which seemed to go down well, even better than the magic. He decided to read every book he could find on memory. After months of being holed up in the public library, he emerged with the beginnings of his own system.
'Out of knowledge, trial and error — especially error at first — I began to work on a memory system of my own. I used it myself, at first. It worked. Those memory demonstrations went into my act. I found that they were the highlights. I began to decrease the magic until finally I was doing all memory and no magic.'
Still in his twenties, he found himself on network television. America, it seems, couldn't get enough of him, and he went on to have a phenomenal career. He has been called "The Yoda of Memory Training" by Time magazine, and is well known for his mnemonic demonstrations and his books. He coauthored The Memory Book with basketball star Jerry Lucas, which became a New York Times bestseller.
To show his amazing memory power, Harry Lorayne would stand beside the president of the club he was visiting and be introduced to each member. The number of members of a club could reach up to 1,500. After an hour and a half, Lorayne would speak about memory for about 20 minutes and then ask if anyone had a question. He promised that if he couldn't greet the questioner by name, he would pay him or her $1,000. Amazingly, he remembered the names of every member of the audience. Lorayne also made news by memorizing and recalling information from several phone books with 100% retention.
In 1961, Lorayne published a book called Secrets of Mind Power. The book tells readers how to improve their thinking skills for optimal success and says: "Don't take things for granted, or as truisms, merely because you hear them proclaimed loudly, repetitiously, and from people or sources that you've been made to believe are incapable of stating anything but facts." The book gained many avid readers, including a few icons. In Chronicles, Volume 1, Bob Dylan writes that he read Lorayne's book shortly before breaking through as a music star.
In 2007, Lorayne published Ageless Memory, which he called his legacy book.
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