Johnny Thompson is a versatile performer with a background of music, magic, comedy and drama.
Known as “The Great Tomsoni,” Thompson got his start in show business as a musician and musical arranger. He is the leading exponent of his instrument, the bass harmonica, and has toured and recorded with "Jerry Murad's Harmonicats." Recordings with the Harmonicats include Mercury Records' 20-million seller, "Peg O’ My Heart." His first Las Vegas appearance was with the Harmonicats in 1951 at The Last Frontier. He also toured with "Johnny Puleo's Harmonica Gang," and toured and recorded with "The Hi-Fimonics" and "The Harmonica Jazz Quartet." He later joined forces with the comedy team of Lewis & Christie with whom he co-authored and co-performed three record breaking revues for the New York and Chicago Playboy Clubs. It was during this period that he developed his successful comedy magic act, "The Great Tomsoni." The act is a parody of serious magical performers, but unlike most parody acts, the magic in Thompson's act worked, and worked well.
Of Polish ancestry, he began using the billing "Poland's Finest Magician" and later "The Great Tomsoni, The Warsaw Wizard."
He began his comedy magic career in the Nevada casino venues as a supporting act for such stars as Carol Channing, Eddie Fisher, and Ed Ames. When wife and partner, Pamela Hayes, actress and comedienne and student of thespian teacher, Lee Strasberg, joined the act, the billing became "The Great Tomsoni and Company" — Pam being "And Company," playing the bored and dizzy assistant to the hilt. As a team they have opened for the Pointer Sisters, Jose Feliciano, Robert Goulet, Brenda Lee, B.J. Thomas, Barbara Eden, Vic Damone, and Diahann Carroll.
In the years since, they have become known as one of the top revue show acts in show business, having starred in the Las Vegas "Folies Bergere" at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino, the "Lido de Paris" at the Stardust Hotel & Casino, the Las Vegas Flamingo Hilton, Steve Wynn’s Golden Nugget, Don Arden's "Jubilee" at Bally's Las Vegas, the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino, the Aladdin Hotel & Casino, the Sands Hotel & Casino, Caesar's Tahoe, Fitzgerald's Hotel & Casino in Reno and John Asquaga's Nugget Hotel & Casino in Sparks, Nevada. Atlantic City casino appearances included Trump’s Castle, Trump's Plaza, Trump’s Taj Mahal, The Showboat, the Tropicana, and Bally's Park Place.
As international artists, they played the London Palladium, the Theatre Princess Grace in Monte Carlo, Le Caberet at the Casino in Monte Carlo, the Casino Ruhl in Nice, France, and the Scala Melia Castilla in Madrid, Spain.
The Great Tomsoni and Company's television credits include multiple appearances on "The Tonight Show," as well as appearances on NBC's "Magic With The Stars," ABC's "It's Magic" and "Enter The Night," "The Magic Show," BBC, London England, "The Paul Daniels' Show," BBC, London, England, "Magic At The Olympia," Paris, France, Rai TV's "Fantastico," Rome, Italy, Shari Lewis' "Magic," Canadian cable special and video cassette release, HBO's "Hocus Pokus, It's Magic,” cable special and video cassette release with Dick Cavett, "Two Top Bananas" with Don Rickles and Don Adams, "The Red Fox Show," Norm Crosby's "Comedy Shop," "The Oak Ridge Boys Live In Las Vegas," "Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular," A&E's Criss Angel "MindFreak" series, The Donny and Marie Show, The Osmond Brothers Special, "Grand Illusion," Canadian magic series and in earlier years, multiple performances on The Merv Griffin Show, The Mike Douglas Show and The Dinah Shore Show. Johnny was featured as a performer and magical historian and the PBS special "The Art of Magic" and he's currently the magic consultant for the CW Network's "Penn & Teller Fool Us" television series.
In addition to his stage work, Thompson is a noted close-up magic performer, illusion inventor, mentalist, and a highly respected trade show spokesman. He is considered to be the first GP (General Practitioner) in professional magic and while many other performers become accomplished in one of the above areas, Thompson is regarded as a virtuoso at all of them. Both he and his wife are also experienced actors in film, theatre, and television.
The Thompsons are two-time recipients of the "Stage Magician of the Year" award from the Hollywood-based Magic Castle, The International Magician's Society's "Merlin Award" for "Best Comedy Magic," The Society of American Magician's "Magicians of the Year Award" and Tannen's Magic "Looie Award.” Johnny has also received the Society of American Magician’s “Superstar of Magic Award,” The Edinburgh International Festival's "The Great Lafayette Award," and England's Magic Circle's highest award, the "Masters Fellowship." In addition, both he and his wife are recipients of Prince Rainer's "Prix S.B.M." Ives Gran Prix, Magiques de Monte-Carlo, Europe's most prestigious magic award which has only bestowed upon four performers.
Thompson, in the capacity of magic technical advisor, has provided material for several television productions including "Hart to Hart," "Fantasy Island," "One Day At A Time," and "Beyond Westworld." His film credits include Michael Ritchie's film version of off - Broadway's longest running musical, "The Fantastiks," Norman Jewison's family film, "Bogus," Turner Broadcasting's cable release, "Houdini-Believe," and the Siegfried & Roy 3-D IMAX film, "The Magic Box."
As a magical consultant and illusion designer he has written, developed and provided material for magicians Siegfried and Roy, Penn and Teller, Doug Henning, Lance Burton, The Amazing Jonathan, David Blaine and magic's newest Las Vegas star, "America's Got Talent" winner, Mat Franco. He was the magic consultant, technical advisor and a featured performer for Criss Angel's, A&E television series, "Mindfreak," the magic consultant for the off-Broadway production of "Play Dead," written and directed by Teller and, in conjunction with Teller, he designed the magic effects for "The Exorcist," which premiered at the Los Angeles’ Geffen Theatre. Johnny also designed all of the magic effects and illusions for Teller and Aron Posner's production of Shakespeare’s "The Tempest," which had its premier performance at the Las Vegas Smith Center. He received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for both "Play Dead" and "The Tempest."
As a theatrical special effects designer, he has invented and presented a variety of unique optical illusions for industrial shows and theme parks. Bush Garden’s Williamsburg production of "The Ghost Of The GLOBE," a Shakespearean fantasy with over 35 unique special effects and illusions was Thompson's initial venture into theme park attractions. A great many of his original optical illusions and special effects techniques have been featured in the Smithsonian Institute, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry and hundreds of trades shows, including President Nixon's White House conference on "The Industrial World Ahead Congress."