Houdini’s MAGIC Lives On…

Continuing on with National Magic Week – actually it’s the final day of Magic Week, National Magic DAY and the anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death. Houdini – one of the greatest magicians and escape artist of all time died on this day in 1926. If you don’t know the lore, well google it. He is Magic Royalty and an anniversary magician’s celebrate.
One of my special Houdini memories were visits to the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame once located in Niagara Falls, Ontario. When the museum first opened in 1968 it was pure magic. Viewing Houdini’s own props and escapes, his magic and his history. It was state of the art and really an experience.
As I young magician visiting, the admission sign read $1.00 or 99 cents if you were a magician. I always proudly showed my Junior Magicians Membership card to qualify for this prestigious discount.
And at the end of the tour was the gift / magic shop – expertly managed by the great professional magician Ronald Conley. Even though we only had a few encounters I really learned a lot from him.
Unfortunately the museum was destroyed by a fire in 1995 and some of Houdini’s props. But not the memory or the magic they created.
Thanks Harry, thanks Ron and Happy Halloween everyone.

That Old Doug Henning Magic Spell…

National Magic Week is almost over – this last night before Halloween – and then this magical week disappears.  Until next year.

So, continuing with my three Horsemen of Magic (Houdin – Henning – Houdini) homage, I find the next one – Doug Henning (1947-2000) – to be very special.

I remember watching his first NBC TV special LIVE on December 26, 1975- and he was pure magic.  And when that colossal tiger magically appeared live on TV – well it blew everyone away.  As was Doug’s style.

And his style was the magic that changed magical history, just like Robert-Houdin.

Prior to Doug’s appearance in the 1970’s magicians were all top hats, tailcoats and very predictable, sophisticated presentations.

Then there was Doug Henning – long hair, dressing like a hippie, and performing magic in a rock style. He reinvented – he was different and took “the scene” by storm.

Numerous NBC TV specials – Broadway Musicals – Live Touring – Making Magic New and Special Again to audiences everywhere.

He started the chain reaction that led to the incredible magicians to follow.

Thank you, Doug Henning.



The Father Of Modern Magic!

As we enter the last three days of National Magic Week I would like to pay homage to three Great Magicians who literally changed the way audiences view our “prestidigitation” art.
I like to call them the three Horsemen of Magic – Houdin – Houdini – Henning.
It all started with Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin (the wizard the great Harry Houdini would later base his stage name on).
Robert-Houdin (1805-1871) is considered the Father of Modern Magic as he transformed magic from a gaming pastime for the lower classes to an upper scale entertainment for the wealthy and main stream masses.
He literally changed the way magic was performed and seen by audiences the world over.
He was a master magician, inventor, writer, had his own theatre in Paris – he even stopped a war using his illusionary magic.
His life is a great read on the internet and to learn more start at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Eugène_Robert-Houdin
Thank you sir for your vision, your performance and the magic you have created for future generations.


Continuing National Magic Week…
So how does SOMEONE BECOME A MAGICIAN – learn to do magic?
(SPOILER ALERT – you do not need to go to Kamar-Taj.)
It’s a unique interest one develops – either very young or as an adult – and they must follow through on.
My spark in magic began at age 8, like many other youngsters at that age (however the smart ones outgrow it).
Seriously though, my start was at our local Library with basic to do magic books.
I had seen a magician – decided that’s what I wanted to do – and the passionate journey began.
Advice from other magic enthusiasts and BOOKS were how I started.
The “Tarbell Course in Magic” that Dr Strange is reading was the bible back then – and it is still a great starting point.
But from books to VHS to DVD’s to downloads – the tools have evolved.
However, the start of the journey does remain the same. A desire to learn.
Do you seriously want to discover “prestidigitation”, the art of magical entertainment?
Here is my advice:
1 – The books in the Public Library are a great starting point to get a more informed idea if this is what you want to pursue.
2 – Yes there are videos on YouTube that can show you how “tricks” are done, there are good and bad and stupid ones. But they only can show you how it’s done – and there is much more involved in this.
3 – The best way is to contact a local magician or magic shop (the best in Toronto is https://browsers-den-of-magic.myshopify.com) and ASK what Magic Clubs are in the area and how to learn. We truly are very helpful to those that seriously want to learn.
There is also the IBM (not computers) – the International Brotherhood of Magicians – who can provide more info and directions to local clubs (or Rings as we call them).
If you are in the Hamilton Ontario Canada area, my local club, the IBM Ring 49 Hamilton Ontario – Doug Henning Magic Wand Club – is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/167311616797314
Please keep in mind, many different people are magicians for different reasons:
TV’s Johnny Carson – Steve Martin – Woody Allen – all started as professional magicians before they evolved.
Hollywood elite like Cary Grant (who also a very serious executive member of the famous Magic Castle in Hollywood) – Jackie Gleason – Dick Van Dyke – Fred Astaire – found it a relaxing hobby.
Even boxing elite’s Muhmmad Ali started later in life to improve his reflexes and his mind.
Plus, many, many more of today’s personalities – Neal Patrick Harris, Adrien Brody, Arsenio Hall, Jason Alexander, Prince Charles (now King Charles III) and Peter Scolari are secret magicians.
And in our local club we have professional, semi-professionals and keen amateurs that all learn and enjoy the experience “presenting and appreciating the art of magic.”
So, if you have a real interest in becoming part of the magical entertainment community, please just reach out – the magic is just waiting to be discovered!

They Walk Among You!

National Magic Week continues with… They WALK AMONG YOU!
These are celebrities and famous people who are “magicians”.
Some had started out as professional conjurors – others took it up as a passionate hobby.
In any case the list just might surprise you…
Neil Patrick Harris
Joey Fatone
Steve Martin
Willie Nelson
Adrien Brody
Arsenio Hall
Jason Alexander
Prince Charles (sorry now KING)
Peter Scolari
Don Johnson
Woody Allen
Jerry Lewis
Dick Van Dyke
Andy Griffith
Bob Barker
Muhammad Ali
Jerry Lucas
Norman Schwartzkopf
George W. Bush
Dick Cavett
Johnny Carson
Jackie Gleason
Cary Grant
Tyrone Power
Boris Karloff
Fred Astaire
Buster Keaton
Milton Berle
Jimmy Stewart
Orson Welles
Tallulah Bankhead
Barbara Stanwyck
Harold Lloyd
Fred Gwynne
Karl Malden
Bill Bixby
Dom DeLuise
John Denver
Carl Ballentine
Hugh O’Brien
Chester Morris
Lyle Talbot
Robert Lansing
Edmond O’Brien
Charles Dickens

Let The Magic Begin!

Today starts off National Magic Week – October 25th to 31st. For over 40 years I have been “magishing” – it started way back when I was eight years old (I wasted my first seven years:). Over the next couple of days I will be posting some magical memories and insights. So let the magic begin…