Magicians are individuals who have mastered the art of illusion or sleight of hand. Some even perform amazing feats of memory, strenghth or will. Magicians seem to make the impossible a reality as they inspire awe with their creativity. Below is a list of some of the greatest magicians of all time.
|Robert Houdin (1805 – 1871)
Known For: Considered the Father of Modern Magic.
Robert Houdin was initially a watchmaker who used his skills to create intricate illusions and tricks. He was so advanced for his time that authorities forced him to reveal how his tricks worked because he was being accused of witchcraft. He was sent by Napoleon III to Algiers to stun the Arabs with “miracles” in order to keep a strong French influence in the area. His most famous illusion involved making an orange tree blossom in front of the audience.
|Alexander Herrmann (1844 – 1896)
Known For: Being one of the first magicians to pull a live rabbit out of a hat.
Herrmann came from a family of magicians. He was mostly trained by his brother Compars Herrmann and the two toured the world together performing for large crowds. After his brother died, Alexander began doing solo shows. He was a master of illusion, elaborate stunts, sleight of hand and card tricks. He was also known for performing the bullet catch where it appeared that a fired bullet would be caught between his hands or in his teeth.
|Harry Kellar (1849 – 1922)
Known For: Being called the “Dean of American Magicians.”
Harry Kellar was popular for his magic trick in which he “levatated” a girl in the air. Other notable tricks involved Kellar borrowing rings from audience members, loading them into a gun and “firing” them toward a locked chest. The rings were then found to be tied with ribbons to flowers inside of boxes that are inside of a smaller chest that was in the original chest.
|Harry Houdini (1874 – 1926)
Known For: Dangerous escape acts and elaborate illusions.
Erik Weisz, better known as Harry Houdini, was synonymous with pushing the limits of magic and illusion. His most daring tricks were his “Milk Can Escape,” “Chinese Water Torture Cell,” “Overboard Box Escape” and his “Buried Alive Stunt.” For his last “Buried Alive Stunt,” Houdini escaped from a straitjacket while locked in a casket that was buried in a big container of sand.
|Harry Blackstone Sr. (1885 – 1965)
Known For: Devised and performed the “Sawing a Woman in Half” illusion.
Known as “The Great Blackstone,” this magician created many new tricks like “the floating light bulb” and “the vanishing bird cage.” He was also very talented with card tricks. His floating light bulb trick featured Blackstone removing a light bulb from a lamp – still lit – and then making it “float” through a ring in the air. He then walked off the stage and the lamp would levitate out over the audience.
|Dai Vernon (1894 – 1992)
Known For: Being one of the greatest sleight of hand magicians of all time.
Dai Vernon was world renowned for his card tricks. He was the teacher of many famous magicians and gained the nickname “The Professor.” He once baffled Harry Houdini with a card trick after Houdini insisted that he could figure out any trick after witnessing it three times. He began to bill himiself as “The Man Who Fooled Houdini.”
|Cardini (1895 – 1973)
Known For: Being a master of card manipulation.
Richard Valentine Pitchford, better known as “Cardini,” was honored by being called the “greatest exponent of pure sleight of hand the world has ever known” by the New England Magic Society. In 1970 he was given the distinction of “Master Magician” at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, California. Additionally, he was elected President of the Society of American Magicians three times.
|P.C. Sorcar (1913 – 1971)
Known For: Acheiving international fame as a magician.
P.C. Sorcar reached the height of his worldwide success in the 1950’s and 60’s. He gained much fame when, in 1952, he performed his cutting a woman in half illusion on TV. The show went off air before the audience knew the fate of his assistant and scared viewers called in to find out if she was alive. He received numerous awards, including: the Oscar of Magic (“The Sphinx”), the “Dutch Tricks Prize” and the “German Goldbar.”
|Carl Ballantine (1917 – 2009)
Known For: Recognized as being the major creator of comedy-magic.
“The Amazing Ballantine” started off as a serious magician, but realized he was not as skilled as his counterparts. One night, after making a mistake on one of his tricks he made a joke that the audience liked and he began to add comedy to his routines. He quickly gained popularity and was featured on The Ed Sullivan Show. He went on to become the first magician to perform in Las Vegas.
|James Randi (1928 – Present)
Known For: Being a great escape artists as well as a debunker of paranormal and supernatural claims.
James Randi made a name for himself over the years by beating Houdini’s record time of being submerged in a metal coffin in a swimming pool for 104 minutes. He is also famous for escaping from a straight jacket while being hung upside down above Niagara Falls. He now devotes his time to exposing fraudulent claims of the paranormal and supernatural. He offers a $1 million prize to anyone that can prove him wrong.
|Mark Wilson (1929 – Present)
Known For: Becoming the first “television magician.”
James “Mark” Wilson first became fascinated with magic at the age of eight when he saw a show by the magician Tommy Martin. He began teaching himself and working at a magic shop to improve his skills. He used his marketing degree and talent to start the TV show “Time for Magic” that was sponsored by Dr. Pepper. He went on to create many different television shows including “The Magic of Mark Wilson” – which was nationally syndicated.
|Paul Daniels (1938 – Present)
Known For: Internationally famous for his TV series “The Paul Daniels Magic Show.”
Paul Daniels had a incredibly popular and long-running BBC TV show from 1979 through 1994. His skills were recognized by the Hollywood Academy of Magical Arts when he was honored as “Magician of the year in 1983. He was the first non-American magician to receive this distinction. Daniels was also given “The Maskelyne” award by The Magic Circle for his contributions to British Magic.
|Siegfried and Roy (1939 – Present, 1944 – Present)
Known For: Their world-famous Las Vegas act.
The magic duo Siegfried and Roy had the most popular show in Las Vegas for more than 30 years. They met back in 1957 when they were both working on a cruise ship. They were known for using white lions and tigers in their shows and they also were active conservationists for these animals. Their careers were brought to an end when one of the white tigers attacked Roy during their Vegas act and nearly killed him.
|Doug Henning (1947 – 2000)
Known For: Renewing public interest in magic during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Doug Henning performed numerous popular and highly regarded shows on Broadway, television and in Las Vegas during his career. Hia performances on Broadway resulted in a Tony Award nomination and his first television broadcast brought more than 50 million viewers. Additionally, Henning performed Harry Houdini’s famous “Water Torture Escape” and the act won him an Emmy.
|Penn & Teller (1955 – Present, 1948 – Present)
Known For: Their combination of comedy, magic and political statements.
The performing duo of Penn & Teller have been together since 1975. They have headlined shows in Las Vegas and toured the world. Their television show “Penn & Teller: Bullshit!” was on the air for seven years. In this show they expose pseudoscience, back up their political beliefs and encourage critical thinking. Penn & Teller were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in April of 2013.
|David Copperfield (1956 – Present)
Known For: Performing illusions on a grand scale.
Copperfield is easily one of the most famous magicians of all time. He has won 21 Emmy Awards, been named “Magician of the Century” by the Society of American Magicians and holds eleven Guinness World Records. Some of his most memorable illusions were when he made the Statue of Liberty “disappear” and when he seemingly walked through the Great Wall of China.
|Criss Angel (1967 – Present)
Known For: Being a world famous illusionist and magician.
Criss Angel has been the International Magicians Society’s “Magician of the Year” a record breaking five times. They also named him “Magician of the Decade” and “Magician of the Century.” He had a popular television show that ran for five years called “Criss Angel Mindfreak” in which he performed street magic and stunts. His signature tricks are making doves appear to materialize and fly from his hands, levitation and disappearing acts.
|Derren Brown (1971 – Present)
Known For: His amazing performances that trick people into thinking he has mind reading abilities.
Derren Brown uses suggestion and psychological methods to entertain people and trick them into thinking he has super human powers. He also is a master of illusions and other magic tricks. He has appeared on numberous television series such as “Trick or Treat” and “Trick of the Mind.” He later got his own TV spot with the title “Derren Brown: Mind Control” in 2000.
|David Blaine (1973 – Present)
Known For: Performing amazing endurance stunts.
David Blaine has performed several life threatening feats in his career. For his stunt “Buried Alive,” Blaine went into a small plastic coffin that was buried and covered with a three ton water tank for seven days without food. He performed a feat called “Frozen in Time” where he was sealed in a large block of ice for nearly 64 hours – he was unable to walk for about one month afterward. Additionally, the performer once stood for 35 hours straight on a 100 foot tall, 22 inch wide pillar in an act he named “Vertigo.”