David Copperfield is most famous for making the Statue of Liberty disappear, levitating over the Grand Canyon, and walking through the Great Wall of China. The youngest person ever admitted to the Society of American Magicians, Copperfield (born David Seth Kotkin) was teaching magic at New York University by the age of sixteen. His magic has appeared in decades of network television specials which have aired in over 40 countries and reached an estimated audience of more than 3 billion people. Along the way, he has won dozens of Emmy Awards as well as two "Entertainer of the Year" awards. His tours have set box office records across four continents, and he has been named a "Living Legend" by the United States Library of Congress. According to Forbes Magazine, Copperfield earned $57 million in 2003, making him the 10th highest paid celebrity in the world.
In 2003, David Blaine, lived in a transparent case suspended 30 feet in the air on the south bank of the River Thames for 44 days, apparently without any food or sleep. His only nourishment was provided by a tube which carried water into the case. A webcam was installed in the box so that viewers could keep a close eye on Blaine. When he emerged from the box on October 19, 2003, after 44 days, he was whisked away to a hospital where he was put on liquid food until his body was deemed ready for solids. Some skeptics have suggested that Blaine may have received glucose supplements through the tube which was supposed to provide only water. The doctors who examined him after the stunt, however, refute this.
Ehrich Weiss was born on March 24, 1874 in Budapest, Hungary. In 1891, he became a professional magician, working under the name Harry Houdini -- he chose this name as a tribute to Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, a French magician he admired. In 1913, Ehrich legally changed his name to Houdini. Initially focusing on bird acts, Houdini's magic career met with little success. But when he began experimenting with escape acts, he soon found himself performing in the top vaudeville houses in the country. With acts such as his famous straitjacket escape (for which he always dislocated both of his shoulders), Harry Houdini would go on to become one of the most famous magicians of all time.
Lance Burton performed on "The Tonight Show" for Johnny Carson before taking his famous dove act to the prestigious "Folies Bergere" in Las Vegas where his contract broke records by being extended for nine years. Lance returned to "The Tonight Show" nine more times before Carson's retirement and has also performed several times for Jay Leno. In 1996, he moved his act to the $27 million Lance Burton Theatre at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino.
P. C. Sorcar (Protul Chandra Sorcar), one of the most prominent magicians in the world during the 1950's and 1960's, was known worldwide as Jadusamrat or Emperor of Magic. He toured approximately 70 countries during his career. Among his most famous acts were the "X-Ray Eye," "Sawing a human body," and "Water of India." In addition to performing, Sorcar wrote about 20 books which played a significant role in promoting the industry of magic. His son, P.C. Sorcar, Jr., also became a popular magician.
The Magic Castle, a classy Victorian mansion and private club for magicians in Hollywood, California, features Irma, an invisible ghostly piano player who can play almost any song suggested by visitors. But you may have to take our word for it as the Magic Castle isn't open to the general public -- you have to know a current member to get you in the door!
On May 16, 1908, at Ford's Theatre in Baltimore, Harry Kellar passed his magician's wand to Howard Thurston who was performing with him on his farewell tour, thus extending the Royal Dynasty of Magicians which represents the premier classicist magician in the world. The Dynasty began in 1896 when Hermann the Great (Alexander Herrmann) died, passing the mantle to Harry Kellar. Upon his retirement in 1908, Kellar passed the mantle to Howard Thurston. Thurston died in 1936, having selected Dante the Magician (Harry August Jansen) to carry on the tradition. In 1955, Dante passed the mantle on to Lee Grabel. And although Grabel retired in 1959, he waited until 1994 when he finally found a magician worthy of the honor, to pass the mantle once again. On May 12, 1994, Grabel chose Lance Burton as the next member of the Royal Dynasty of Magicians.
Harry Blackstone, sometimes called the "last of the great magicians," was famous for performing the following acts: "The Jungle Mystery," "The Vanishing Donkey," "The India Rope Trick," and "The Dream of Princess Karmac." Blackstone retired after World War II (during which he had entertained U.S. troops) due to asthma and retired to Hollywood, California where he was frequent visitor to the Magic Castle, a private club for magicians. His son, Harry Blackstone, Jr., also became a popular magician.
Harry Houdini often boasted that he could not be fooled if he saw a card trick performed at least three times. When fellow magician Dai Vernon (David Frederick Wingfield Verner) performed a version of "The Ambitious Card" trick for Houdini three times, however, Houdini was stumped. For years afterwards, Vernon billed himself as "The Man Who Fooled Houdini."
In 1957, at the age of 62, Cardini (Richard Pitchford) performed on The Festival of Magic, a television show featuring popular magic acts. The tape of this show is the only known footage of Cardini at work -- valuable footage, indeed, when one considers that the New England Magic Society named Cardini the "greatest exponent of pure sleight of hand the world has ever known."