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Mr. Magician
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And people, what about Luis de Matos.
A spectacular magician!!!
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Luis is a great illusionist. Luis was with a good friend of mine Gary Ouellet when he died suddenly of a Heart attack. Gary probably did more for magic with his numerous specials than any illusionist known.
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Profile of roymagic
I think that all magicians in the world (little and great) are " The greatest magicians in the world "
Why ? because when you perform a magic trick in front of the eyes of children, you are for this boy or girl " the greatest magician in the world ".
You bring the dream and in my sense, this is the most important.
But into the history of magic each age have had his
" greatest magician of all time ".
for the moment, I think that David Copperfield is the most representative of all magicians-illusionists.He is recognized by International newspaper and medias over the world.
There are so Siegfried & Roy, Lance Burton,Ayala, Hans Klok, Rick Thomas and many other in different performance in magic.
I love DC, and the other too, because each of them bring me dream.
Magically Yours
Roy S
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Blackstone JR has my vote. Smile
Jim Snack
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I can't believe no one has mentioned Richiardi. I saw him twice in NYC in the late 1970's or early 80's - once at the Village Gate and once at Madison Square Garden. His presentation of the Broom Suspension was without equal.
Jim Snack

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I think Rick Thomas is GREAT! Does anyone agree with me? He is so charismatic and he has a very strong stage presence. I think he is the best in a lot of areas...but especially in movement. I have never seen another magician move (and I don't mean ONLY dance)as well as he does. His bird act is also one of the best I think. What do you guys think?
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Profile of WolfgangWollet
I would vote for lance Burton. I go see his show ywice a year (when we have guests) and he always delivers. He has such a connection with the audience..... And for the classics: Blackstone jr. I will never forget the lightbulb floating over my head. It was the ! real magic event in my life.....
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Profile of Aroy
I always go back to the basics of our being. We are entertainers first and that as entertainers we choose to use the medium of magic as a hook to entertain our audiences. Having said that....I always find myself looking at, and placing the entertainment value of the performance over the 'technical' aspects ( be it the individual's skill, or the cleverness of the prop design /art direction, or even the theatrical production values) of the presentation.

Audiences come to see us to be entertained. So taking that as the primary benchmark....the question of who is the greatest illusionist should be asked again.


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Hello people... remember Doug Henning... he's the one that turned things around for magic. He was first with "new" illusions then the others followed. Doug truly had his audience leave with a renewed sense of wonder. Blackstone Jr. was also in a class of his own. No one could command the stage with just his voice...there will never be another. David is of course the most sucessful and has brought magic to a higher art form. Seigfried and Roy brought magic to Vegas and made magic a specticle... again.. they can not be replaced. Get well Roy...

Matt Graves
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How about Robert-Houdin? He used an illusion to prevent a war. Has anyone else duplicated such a feat?
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Profile of Neech
I have to agree with Rodney Massey that greatness was before our time.
Dante and Thurston are the two that come to mind immediately.
So infatuated with studying their artistic talents that I named my last son Dante !!!
The hardest working magi (a different topic) is probably DC or Jeff McBride ... just MHO
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Profile of IllusionJack
My personal vote goes to David Copperfield. By far and away the best illusionist I've seen.

Coming in a -very- close second are - Brett Daniels, Joseph Gabriel, Rick Thomas, Lance Burton.

And of course, this doesn't even account for all the awesome magicians there are in other categories aside from just illusion shows.

--Jack Smile
Randy Sager
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Since he has not been mentioned yet and I feel he is still one of the best is John Calvert.

I first attened his lecture in 2000 actually I was recruted to run his music for him I have to admit at first I thought what have I gotten Myself into? This is going to be so bad and boring!!! Man was I ever wrong!!!!! I just hope if I live to be John's age I am as active as he is and still able to perform.
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Doug Henning introduced me to the art of magic way before the name of David Copperfield was ever heard! Back then TV supported magic! Shows like the Merv Griffen Show, The Smothers Brothers Show, Ed Sullvan Show etc...
"Three may keep a secret if two are dead" Ben Franklin
Roberto Gee
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Seems like every generation has its own "greatest illusionist." Probably due to constantly improving technology. Imagine if Houdini or Blackstone had performed DC's "Flying" in their day!

When I was a boy, Lee Grabel brought his touring show to our small town and I was called up to "assist" him (I was supposed to "touch" the head of Helene and make a wish, as she levitated under the cloth in the Asrah levitation, before abruptly disappearing.

The next year, I became (at the time) the youngest member of the IBM. A couple of years later, I badgered my dad for a used super-x levitation from Mr. Grabel, who was then in Florida. I levitated my poor sister for several years thereafter.

Grabel's show was thoroughly entertaining and he had terrific stage presence. For his "Floating Piano," he used a local high-school senior girl, which I'm sure added a lot of publicity value to his show and garnered him local newspaper interviews wherever he played. I tried for years to get the girl (I knew her) to reveal the secret.

Of course, the audience could plainly see the wide seat-belt straps ("flesh" colored if you were caucasian) criss-crossing her bare shoulders in her evening gown to hold her in the chair (not a bench) as the piano rotated 360-degrees in mid-air. Even as a kid, I remember thinking: wait-a-minute -- if he can levitate the piano how come he can't levitate the girl with it? Why does he have to strap her in? Oh, well.

Was Lee Grabel the greatest?

Not to me. He put on a great show, but not in the same class as other "classic" magicians, both before and after.

Doug Henning? Wonderful innovator and, I think, responsible for re-popularizing magic through television in the 70s. Still, just my opinion, too cute and boyish a stage persona to command the same lasting "majesty" of the classic illusionists.

The Pendragons? Terrific magicians and performers. Their "Metamorphosis" and "Interlude" alone are worth the price of admission. A beautiful show.

Melinda? Well, I have to respect her for her unstinting hard work and determination. But, to me, it's like watching a younger Ann-Margaret build a show around pre-owned Jim Steinmeyer illusions. Not a shred of originality or surprise. Best illusion? Her Wonderbra.

Penn & Teller? Another favorite act. The best-staged, most edge-of-your-seat bullet catch in history, IMHO. Probably the best ACTORS in all of magic. A brilliant balance of humor, dark and light, and spine-tingling tension that no one else can (or has tried) to duplicate.

When Sigfried and Roy first opened at the Mirage (I had seem them years earlier at the Frontier), in the theatre especially built for their show, I was bowled over. For my money, it's STILL probably the best PRODUCED illusionist show in history. The effects were simply staggering, for the time. I mean, a giant mechanical dragon almost as big as the stage itself?

I saw their show four times over the years, and it was largely unchanged (with perhaps the addition or subtraction of an effect or two).

And the animals were magnificent.

But the illusions, for the most part, were variations of everybody else's illusions -- only bigger and more spectacular.

As the years went by, I detected a bit of sloppiness in the show -- understandable when you do TWO such shows nightly. The last time I saw them I actually SAW the switch from Roy to his double, and wondered how many others noticed it.

Roy's accident is tragic for him, and for audiences who were never fortunate enough to see their astonishing production -- "magical" as much for its longevity as for its illusions. S&R will be as eternally legendary as Houdini, Thurston, Blackstone, Sorcar (God, those tacky sets!) or any of the rest.

Lance Burton -- terrific. Probably the best true magician, IMHO, of the Vegas performers. In the old days, at the Hacienda (a relatively small venue at the time), he actually performed card and dove effects as well as large illusions.

Can I ever forget Burton's take on the levitation? Uh, no, I can't. He lay on his back on the stage floor. One of his beautiful, barely-clad assistants straddled his crotch, then bent over him for an erotic kiss, began to writhe on top of him as they BOTH slowly rose into the air! (That was his late show. I understand he eliminated the writhing girl at his earlier show, where kiddies were likely to be present).

But the BEST illusionist, IMHO, is Copperfield. For sheer originality AND presentation, he (and his creators/inventors) win hands down.

"Flying" is still, to me, after all my years with magic, the single most beautiful illusion ever staged. From the moment he sits on the lip of the stage with the falcon on his arm and talks about boyhood dreams of flying, until he flies with an audience volunteer in his arms -- well, it's the only illusion I've ever seen that actually brings tears to my eyes. Perfectly conceived, written, staged and performed. Even if you know the mechanics, his "magic" utterly takes over. It's one of the most physically demanding illusions ever performed -- yet he makes it completely believable and easy-looking, like literal flying.

As technology improves, there will no doubt be "better" illusionists to come in the years ahead.

But Copperfield has set the standard they will have to surpass. As already noted in this thread, stage personality and presentation are probably 90% of the effect.

Can you imagine Penn or Teller "Flying?"

Copperfield's dedication to presenting the BEST of the craft, from hiring the best collaborators, producers, sound/lighting/music/set design technicians, to his remarkable flair for TV specials and promotion, to developing his own "image" and his unflagging touring schedule -- rival Houdini's, IMHO.

We may never see the likes of these illusionists again, but we can hope.
Brent W
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Siegfried, in my opinion, is really the best of the best. Another favorite was the late, great Richiardi..he performed some standard illusions so well it was scary, and his version of the Dekolta chair to tip trunk (now featured by Lance Burton) was stunning. David Copperfield, Blackstone Sr. and Jr, and Paul Daniels come to mind as well.
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I have been fortunate to see most of the well-known professional illusionists since the '60s and, for my money, Doug Henning was the most entertaining magician I have ever seen. He didn't force the magic down your throat, he brought you into his magical world.

Until his show became "R" rated so I can no longer take my children, David Copperfield was an amazing performer. I still think his "Flying" illusion was as beautiful an illusion as there has ever been. Good example of how something complicated and expensive can be made to look inexpensive and simple.

Another of my favorite performances of all time was the surprise appearance of Lee Graebel at the IBM convention in Little Rock. In his 80s, he was still performing amazing card manipulations and illusions.

Amos McCormick
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I'm am so glad to see so many great magicians mentioned. The inclusion of Richiardi & Calvert was a much welcomed and highly deserved addition!

Having worked as an assistant to one of Richiardi's opening acts, I can say that after seeing him, I have yet to see anyone who comes close to his equal. As a side note, both Copperfeild and Henning credited Richiardi as a major influence. That speaks volumes about the quality of performance that unfortunately today's newcommers will never see.


"If I've told you once, I've told you a million times... Don't exaggerate!" And as Bill Hallahan requested, I can't put a website address in ANY post, so I'll add it here:
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Bill Palmer
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Discussions like this are almost pointless. I say "almost," because everyone has his likes and dislikes. And everyone has seen different performances. For example, I know Doug Henning was a really great illusionist, but the time he came to Houston to perform at a March of Dimes gala, he brought his assistants, a couple of smaller props, and then borrowed the illusions he performed, so the audience didn't see Doug Henning's show. They saw Doug Henning doing his show with other people's props. So the show was somewhat abbreviated. Nevertheless, he did what he did quite well.

Blackstone, Sr. impressed the heck out of me when I was a kid. Blackstone, Jr. did the same to me when I became older. Copperfield always amazes. Siegfried and Roy always amazed people.

In a way, trying to name the greatest illusionist of all time is like trying to name the greatest pianist of all time or the greatest guitarist of all time. Each of the people that have been mentioned had his or her own way of interpreting illusion and communicating it to the audience.

And let us not forget some of the masters of the past that none of us have ever seen. Where would we be without Buatier de Kolta? Or Servais LeRoy?

All giants.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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