Dennis McBride is one of the four U.S. National Grand Masters.
Written by Joe Mitchell with some portions from Dennis' website. (www.yoyomaster.com)
Dennis began his yo-yo career at the age of eight, and as a child earned more than 15 yo-yo titles. He competed in many Duncan contests in his native California through the local parks and recreation departments- from playground level contests, to city level contests, to the county level and finally in California State contests. He competed until 1960, when he retired at the "ripe old age of 15"
His first yo-yo was a wooden Duncan with Egyptian fiber string - which competitors had to tune themselves. [Duncan's organizer of contests in California] "Bob [Allen] was really strict - because he would actually look at every yo-yo and if you sanded that axle, especially the width, too much, he wouldn't allow you to use it because it was an unfair advantage for tricks like double or nothing or trapeze and those kind of things" "You got about a 20 second spinner out of it, and so what you did, you had to do within that length of spin"
Dennis didn't start working professionally until the 80's. He got a hold of a couple of Tom Kuhn yo-yos - "they were so beautifully balanced and really worked great." Duncan hired him part time in the 1980's.
In 1995, the National Yo-Yo Museum named Dennis one of the initial three "National Masters" and has since elevated his title to "National Grand Master."
In 1997, he went to work, full-time, for Alan Nagao with THP in Hawaii. "THP was part of a marketing strategy that Alan developed and test marketed in Hawaii, and his primary target was Japan and teaming up with Bandai" Alan hired him and Carol to come to Hawaii to train a group of kids - most were 'at-risk' kids - they formed teams to sell yo-yos. They would take them to local school assemblies and around the world - to places like Japan, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Singapore and all around the United States. Some of those kids had never left the island and were all of the sudden stars throughout the world.
"When we first went to Japan, we would do toy stores, real tight quarters, we'd hand out stickers and yo-yos to get the momentum going - a few months later, we went back with the team to Japan, by the time we got back, the thing had been ignited. On April 4, 1998, there was a yo-yo event at a sports complex outside of Tokyo - 40,000 people. It was incredible and it was all yo-yos." Dennis worked for THP for three and a half years.
In March of 1999, the Senate of the Twentieth Legislature of the State of Hawaii honored Dennis as one who "has exhibited the mastery of using a skill toy and has won the hearts of all who watch him. He has maintained a standard of excellence and is recognized as a positive and inspiring role model simply because he believes that with discipline, hard work, and enthusiasm, he can go places beyond his imagination. The Aloha Spirit is alive in mind, body, and spirit with Dennis McBride."
Dennis has perfomed with the Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers and "Yo-Yo Man" Tommy Smothers. His first professional yo-yo performance was in Walt Disney's first 3-Dimensional movie, which played exclusively at the grand opening of the Mickey Mouse Club Theater in the Disneyland theme park.
Dennis has judged major yo-yo competitions, including US Nationals and Worlds. He has produced and starred in nine yo-yo instructional videos, including his most recent 4-volume series titled "Mastering the Art of Yo-Yo Play" - most of which are still available.
Among the highlights of his career, in terms of events, are the videos he made, the April 4, 1998 event. But the real highlight, he says, are "the people we've met along the way."
Dennis' late wife, Carol McBride, was an accomplished singer, humorist, and yo-yo player. Carol toured with Dennis throughout his career. Sadly, she was diagnosed with brain cancer in June of 2006 and passed away that November. Dennis has since remarried. His wife's name is Lynda.
Dennis and Carol stopped touring in 2000, and Dennis became a pastor in a church in Solvang, California. He still does some local yo-yo events, but tries to stay pretty close to home.
Dennis is no relation to Mark McBride.
- World Yo-Yo Contest; The Harvey Lowe Lifetime Achievement Award