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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magicians of old » » 4 most famous magicians before 1970 (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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jay leslie
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This is a popularity contest!!!!! Please list the 4 or 5 most POPULAR magicians of yesteryear

I'll start - - - Houdini, Keller, Thurston, Blackstone, Dante

 You may use the same popular magicians (above) - OR - list your own popular magicians

4 or 5 most popular magicians..... are?

.
Michael Baker
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Of the above, Dante was probably lesser known in the US. I would therefore substitute Alexander Herrmann.

This list however, only accounts for a modified selction of the past 125 years or so, and is geographically biased. Names like Robert Houdin, Devant, Maskelyne, Pinetti, Hofzinser, John Henry Anderson, etc. would surely make the list had their history stayed in the public's interest. For the same reason, most of the names on the above list would not be there, had more current names be allowed, and names like Copperfield and Henning are actually today being forgotten by younger people who only know of Criss Angel, David Blaine, etc.
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gadfly3d
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Mark Wilson would fit that time period

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mark2004
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The answer to this is surely going to vary a lot depending on how you define the question. Is it about the most famous magicians throughout the history of magic up to 1970? Or are we talking about just a decade or two prior to 1970? And, of course, views will probably differ from one country to another.

As a Brit who was still in his youth in 1970 I would say the most famous magicians I was aware of at the time had to include David Nixon, Ali Bongo, and Robert Harbin.

And if you were to extend the cutoff date to 1980 then the British list would be headed by Paul Daniels, whose impact on TV presentation of magic on our side of the Atlantic was as significant as that of Copperfield and Mark Wilson in the USA.

Obviously if you extend the scope back across all of magic history then you need to consider many great names including John Nevil Maskelyne, David Devant, Will Goldston, PT Selbit, and Le Roy, Talma and Bosco.
Bill Palmer
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Mark Wilson performed for more people before 1970 than any other magician in the world. He was the first magician to have a nationally televised series of specials. He laid the groundwork for all who came later, on this side of the pond and the other, as well.

Houdini, Thurston and Kellar would probably be the best known in the States, other than Wilson.
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Father Photius
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Blackstone, Keller, Thurston, Wilson
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
Bill Palmer
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I could go with that.
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Rennie
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Why is the greatest , Fred Kaps not on anyone's list ? Would also include Tony Slydini as well as Cardini and Ed Marlo. Strange no one even mentions them.
Rennie
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Any idea why this thread stopped ?? I don't think we ran out of magicians.
Rennie
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Trying to get this going again.
The effect is the important thing, how you achieve it is not.......
Daveandrews
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silverking
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Mark Wilson is a true giant in magic.
He still to this day commands total respect.

The trailblazers get somewhat "forgotten" in this internet age of magic, and there's a lot Mark Wilson did for magic and how the public viewed magic that deserves revisiting by todays magicians.

Famous being the title of this thread, the Wilson, Henning, Copperfield triad sums up what the public saw as "famous magicians" through much of the 60's and 70's, and on into the 80's.

I think in terms of overall numbers of people, it's only magicians who became well known on TV that achieved fame in the sense that, at least in every American household with a TV, everybody actually knew what they looked like, and who they were by name.
Gerry Walkowski
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Bill:

What about Milbourne Christopher? His TV specials preceeded Wilson by many years. Many people tend to forget that. I would say he opened the door for Mark Wilson.
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Milbourne Christopher had one nationally broadcast TV special, and it fell flat.

Mark Wilson had a series of specials. Series is the key here -- return business.
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Quote:
On 2008-07-17 11:26, Rennie wrote:
Why is the greatest , Fred Kaps not on anyone's list ? Would also include Tony Slydini as well as Cardini and Ed Marlo. Strange no one even mentions them.
Rennie


As good as all of them were, none of them were well known among the public. Fred Kaps was a hero in the Netherlands, but in the US, the only people that knew him were magicians -- except for those who saw him on the Sullivan show the night the Beatles debuted. Most of them did not remember him, though.

Slydini was the same way.

Cardini, OTOH, was well-known.

Marlo was strictly known to magicians.
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Bill Palmer
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Correction to the Milbourne Christopher situation. He actually had more specials than that. One web site says 10. However, to my knowledge, he did not have a regular series of them, as Mark Wilson did.

Mark basically paved the way for the successful television magic series. He started by having a regular daytime show, broadcast live from three different cities in Texas. These were sponsored by Frito-Lay. He did this for several years, developing this series into his "Magical World of Allakazam."

He obtained these spots by contacting potential sponsors directly, then having them purchase the air time. It took him almost two years of constant pavement-pounding to get the sponsors for his show.

Later, when he was in Los Angeles, He approached one of the broadcasting companies about the same thing. They gave him the same song and dance that the TV stations in Texas had -- the public would think it was all television trickery.

Again, he pounded the pavement to get sponsors for his potential television series. Roughly two years later, he succeeded, and produced a very long string of successful television specials.

The interesting thing about Mark's television work was the ratings that his shows got.
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mark2004
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You might be doing an injustice to Milbourne Christopher. I think he has been under-rated because he started in a slightly earlier era than Mark Wilson. That slight difference in time represents a significant difference in the development of the television business. It could be argued that part of Mark Wilson's success was down to the fact that the time was right for someone to make a big national impact.

I agree that Wilson deserves credit for his dogged entrepreneurial approach in going out and getting sponsors. I think an even bigger factor was that he came up with a formula to get around the idea that magicians might use television tricks. That formula was the combination of a studio audience and the maintaining of a single camera shot during the illusion - he could credibly tell viewers that they saw exactly what the studio audience did.

Wilson might have been the one who finally made the big impact but Milbourne Christopher still deserves recognition for what he did in relation to magic and television. It's a bit like Neil Armstrong being the most famous astronaut - what he did was amazing but all the other astronauts who went before him, including those whose missions failed, were also contributing in a way to the journey to the Moon. The likes of David Copperfield have credited Christopher with doing a great deal to establish magic as a televisual entertainment - it's possible, even probable, that Wilson drew lessons from the weakenesses and strengths of Christopher's shows.

I'd also like to put in a word for Fred Culpitt, who is less well-known but was nevertheless the first magician ever to appear on TV. As one of the acts chosen by the BBC for its first experimental broadcasts in the late 1930s he helped to establish that magic, as a very visual art, had strengths that made it suitable for TV. He might never have been among the top 10 best known magicians in the world (although some of his illusions became standards), but he is nonethless significant.
mark2004
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Quote:
As good as all of them were, none of them were well known among the public. Fred Kaps was a hero in the Netherlands, but in the US, the only people that knew him were magicians.


It has to be said that Mark Wilson's breakthrough with "Magical World of Allakazam" was essentially a US phenomenon. He was not nearly so well known outside the USA as he was inside it. So it's probably true that if you were an ordinary member of the Dutch public then Fred Kaps would've been in your top ten list of magicians and Wilson might not.

Obviously, over the years, the power of the American entertainment industry has meant that Mark Wilson's fame was exported, to an extent, through sales of his shows and through guest appearances. I think I recall seeing Wilson on the Paul Daniels Magic Show in Britain, but although he was given a big introduction he was still just another magician among many who guested on that series.

Also, TV firms around the world looked at America and saw what worked there when trying to make domestic production decisions - so Wilson's success in the USA will have aided magicians in Europe who were looking for a break into TV.

I'm not looking to belittle Mark Wilson here (quite the opposite - I think he's a brilliant and hugely important magician). What I'm saying is that you need to be careful to avoid assuming the American point of view is the only point of view.
Gerry Walkowski
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Mark:

You are spot on with your analysis and I couldn't agree with you more.

Bill, I'm quite surprised you didn't know about Christopher's other specials and didn't give Christopher the credit he truly deserved for keeping magic alive on TV for many years prior to Mark Wilson's arrival.
mark2004
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Quote:
On 2008-08-11 19:35, Gerry Walkowski wrote:
Mark:

You are spot on with your analysis and I couldn't agree with you more.

Bill, I'm quite surprised you didn't know about Christopher's other specials and didn't give Christopher the credit he truly deserved for keeping magic alive on TV for many years prior to Mark Wilson's arrival.


Thanks for that Gerry. However I should leap to Bill's defence by saying I didn't really know much about Christopher's television career until this thread prompted me to look into it. Bill is right to point out Mark Wilson's place in getting magic established as a televisual entertainment - Wilson's achievement is worthy of a place in history even though others made significant steps before him.

In terms of doing justice to magicians who achieved public recognition I think it is important to remember those who mirrored Wilson's achievements in other parts of the world. That's why I listed David Nixon in my top four. Nixon is probably not well-known in the USA but in Britain he was iconic and he set a standard for the presentation of magic on television that continued to influence programme makers for several decades. In the late 1960s if you asked an average Brit in the street about magic the first name they'd think of would almost certainly be Nixon.
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