Thanks to Tim W. for finding this article! I wonder just what the final terms of the deal were…
Tolkien estate grants use of Gandalf name
Canoe – July 14, 2000
NEW YORK (AP) — Poof! Gandalf the Wizard Clown lives on!
An agreement between the Long Island magician and the estate of author J.R.R. Tolkien allowed Gandalf — a k a Michael Kaplan — to retain his stage name. The Friday deal ended a bitter seven-year battle.
The resolution of the dispute between Kaplan and Tolkien Enterprises came in a three-paragraph statement. While details were scarce, the deal allows Kaplan to continue working as Gandalf — a monicker he adopted while twisting balloon animals at kids’ parties in 1974.
“Under the settlement, Kaplan will offer his Gandalf the Wizard Clown performance services and related products under license from Tolkien Enterprises,” the statement read. “Other terms of the settlement are confidential.”
Kaplan, who had irritated the Tolkien estate with his refusal to surrender the name, was uncharacteristically quiet after putting the dispute behind him.
“We’ve settled it,” said Kaplan, 44, who’s getting married on Monday. “Both sides are glad it’s resolved. Neither one of us is going to reveal the details.”
In the past, Kaplan — who spent thousands of dollars in his legal battle — had rejected offers to pay an annual licensing fee to Tolkien Enterprises.
Attorneys for Tolkien Enterprises confirmed the deal, but had no comment beyond that.
Tolkien’s 1937 “The Hobbit” and his subsequent trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” introduced his heroic Gandalf, who battled evil in the fictional Middle Earth. Kaplan’s Gandalf did most of his work on Long Island.
During the dispute, Kaplan insisted that the two Gandalfs had one thing in common: Both took their names from 10th century Norse mythology. He argued that made Gandalf public domain — an assertion that the Tolkien estate vigorously challenged.