International Magicians’ Day

Magician and illusionist shows have always enchanted generations all over the world and provoked the fascination and curiosity of even the most incredulous.

Because today is the International Magician Day, we remember some of the Greatest Magicians and Illusionists ever.

Dante The Magician (1883 – 1955)

State Library of Victoria Collections

Harry August Jansen (October 3, 1883 – June 15, 1955) was a Danish-born entertainer who settled in the United States. Dante was known throughout the world under the name Dante the Magician, working in vaudeville, burlesque, legitimate theater, films, and in later years, television. 

His stage trademark was to utter three nonsense words, “Sim Sala Bim”. He also appeared as himself in the 1950 film Bunco Squad, and played a character role in Jean Renoir’s The Golden Coach (1952). Dante retired to Southern California in the late 1940s and died at the age of 71.

The Great Houdini (1874 – 1926)

Houdini was born in Budapest and he moved with his family to the United States of America at the age of four. Its name of baptism was Erick Weisz, but later changed legally for Harry Houdini.

Belonging to a poor family, Houdini, who lived in Appleton, Wisconsin, was forced to work as a child, having been a well driller, photographer, contortionist, trapeze artist, and blacksmith. It was as a blacksmith, already living in New York, that he discovered his vocation for illusionism.

McManus – Young Collection

His boss asked him to open the handcuffs of a policeman who had lost his keys and Houdini used a trick to do so that he would later use in his numbers. He decided to dedicate himself to the career of a magician betting on numbers where he was free of handcuffs, chains, padlocks, escaped boxes and closed tanks, sometimes placed in water.

Harry Blackstone (1885-1965)

Harry Bouton Blackstone (born Henry Boughton; September 27, 1885 – November 16, 1965) was a famed stage magician and illusionist of the 20th century. Blackstone was born Harry Bouton in Chicago, Illinois, he began his career as a magician in his teens and was popular through World War II as a USO entertainer. 

He was often billed as The Great Blackstone. His son Harry Blackstone Jr. also became a famous magician. Blackstone Sr. was aided by his younger brother, Pete Bouton, who was the stage manager in all his shows. Blackstone Sr. was married three times. Blackstone Jr. was his son by his second wife.

Blackstone spent the last years of his life performing at The Magic Castle, a magical attraction in Hollywood, California. He died November 16, 1965 in Hollywood at the age of 80.

In 1985, on the 100th anniversary of his father’s birth, Harry Blackstone Jr. donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. the original floating light bulb – Thomas Edison designed and built it – and the original Casadega Cabinet, used in the “Dancing Handkerchief” illusion. This was the first ever donation accepted by the Smithsonian in the field of magic

David Copperfield (1956-)

David Copperfield (Owner) Homer Liwag (Photographer) via Wikimedia Commons

David Seth Kotkin (born September 16, 1956), known professionally as David Copperfield, is an American magician, described by Forbes as the most commercially successful magician in history.

Copperfield’s television specials have won 21 Emmy Awards of a total 38 nominations. Best known for his combination of storytelling and illusion, Copperfield’s career of over 40 years has earned him 11 Guinness World Records, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a knighthood by the French government, and he has been named a Living Legend by the US Library of Congress.

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