movies came along, the vaudeville theaters that had supported
so many magicians turned into movie theaters. Most magicians
had to look for new venues for work. The popularity of magic
were one place magicians turned to, but it was a different
kind of work. Vaudeville performers traveled around circuits
of theaters, so they were always getting fresh audiences.
In nightclubs, the audience was the same, so the act had to
be different. Magicians had to keep changing their shows and
adding new material to stay in demand.
soon discovered another way to performtelevision. Many
people doubted that magic could work on TV, because they thought
viewers wouldn't believe what they were seeing was what was
really happening on-stage. Mark Wilson and the other magicians
who pioneered magic on camera proved that it could work, and
it did. Over time, many magicians made a name for themselves
in this new medium.
was the first to make doves appear
magician A.J. Cantu became famous working with doves. His
magic inspired magician Channing Pollock.
did doves like Channing Pollock, though everybody tried
the 1950s, magician Channing Pollock set the standard for
producing doves from thin air. Better known for his magic
than for his film career, Channing Pollock dressed formally,
smiled only at the very end of his act, and inspired magicians
around the world. His handsome face, serious air and graceful
moves left nightclub audiences spellbound. As he made doves
appear, he seemed to be shaping them from air with his hands.
Magicians everywhere copied his moves.
their old venues closed, successful magicians like Jack Gwynne
had to adapt
the mid 1930s, vaudeville was dying. Magician Jack Gwynne
knew that he'd need to take his show somewhere elsehotel
dinner dances and nightclubs. He reshaped his show, making
it longer and changing some effects to fit having an audience
on three sides. He was always creating new shows to stay in
off the many people claiming to be the world's greatest
magician, in 1935 Gwynne successfully advertised himself as
"The World's SECOND Greatest Magician."
happens under your nose
magic is magic done for just a few people. Magicians started
to make a living with it.
Vernon taught close-up to other magiciansnaturally
magician Dai Vernon came along, many magicians liked to show
off their skill with cards. Vernon taught instead that card
magic should look like something that just happened, with
no extra moves. He became a mentor in person and through books.
Vernon taught magicians to act in their own style and make
their work look natural.
the 1960s, Dai Vernon came to the Magic Castle, a private
magicians' club in Hollywood. People moved to Los Angeles
just to study with him.
close-up fooled the mind
Tony Slydini mastered close-up magic through his skill with
misdirectionfooling the mind more than the eye.
Alan's "Magic Ranch" showed close-up to everyone
magic, by definition, is magic for just a few people. But
when Don Alan's "Magic Ranch" series aired
on American TV in 1962, he showed it to a whole country. He
had turned these "pocket tricks" into an entire
act with a beginning, middle and an end. His timing and his
build to a finale showed that close-up could be as good as
any stage show.
Alan appeared on the TV shows of Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen,
Johnny Carson and many others.
Wilson proved that magic works on TV
Mark Wilson tried to get a magic series for children on national
television in 1958, people told him that magic "won't
work on TV." But he never gave up. He found his own sponsor
in Kellogg's. "The Magic Land of Allakazam" first
aired in 1960; the first sponsored magic series on American
believed that magic needed three things to work on TV:
Always have a live audience
Never have the camera cut away during a trick.
Let viewers know that they see exactly what the studio audience
magic of Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell inspired quite a few
youngsters to become magicians when they grew up.
Christopher did variety magic specials on TV
Milbourne Christopher performed in the first magic show on
national TV. He promoted his specials with a grand effect
at the end, making people stay tuned to the end of the show.
In this photograph he's doing a dangerous bullet catch.
Henning brought magic to a new generation
talent and energy of Canadian magician Doug Henning revived
magic on TV. His look captured the spirit of his time. And
in his TV specials in the 1970s and 80s, he presented magic
with an open, childlike wonder that delighted viewers.
magic on stage and his many live TV specials helped make magic
popular again. When it aired live on December 26, 1975, "Doug
Henning's World of Magic" drew 50 million viewersand
became the highest-rated magic special in the history of television.