Michael Lauck is a columnist for iTricks. His work appears on Mondays.
For at least 90 years there have been references to television in magic magazines.
Television has probably been the biggest venue for magic for all of our lives. Even before it was common, it was actually affecting the magic industry.
Not too long ago I stumbled across something George A. Jenness wrote in March, 1924 issue of The Magician Monthly. He was, believe it or not, already writing about television and how it may affect magicians. Not even five years after the first commercial radio stations had started broadcasting in the United States and only two and a half since the BBC began transmission, Jenness wrote “The lay press has already told us about Television. Another idea to which my attention has been drawn is that where it may be possible in the future to control movements by wireless. It may be possible to steer ships from the port by so-called wireless control.”
Ironically, Tesla had actually publicly demonstrated, and patented, a radio controlled boat in 1898, long before sound was transmitted via radio systems. Although Marconi was popularly credited with the invention of radio when Jenness wrote, the Supreme Court would eventually rule that the patents involved were held by Tesla and others. What really grabbed my attention, though, was that at a time when radio was in its infancy people, particularly magicians, were already looking ahead to television!
The history of television is really the subject of entire books (and usually rather boring technical books at that), but as Jenness wrote the press was already talking about television in the early 1920s. There had even been a few primitive demonstrations. By 1928, C.F. Jenkins in Maryland and publisher/radio station owner Hugo Gernsback were both making scheduled broadcasts and General Electric’s experimental station even presented a play over the air. In an era when radio and even electricity were relatively new developments and many had built their own radios, people were excitedly following the emergence of television in the newspapers and through magazines such as Popular Science and Gernsback’s many technical magazines. Magicians were no different, except they were already trying to incorporate the new field into their craft.
Posted by Michael on February 17th, 2014
Before The Mentalist or Sherlock, there was Jonathan Creek. Comic Alan Davies stars in the title role as an illusion builder and creative consultant for magicians who is drug into the role of amateur detective by writer Maddie Magellan. More cerebral than most US crime shows, Jonathan Creek has run on and off since 1997, with a handful of specials along the way. It will return on February 28 in the UK with no word yet if it will be returning to BBC America as well.
Posted by Michael on February 13th, 2014
Sid Caesar passed away yesterday at the age of 91. Highly regarded as a comedian, Caesar was a television pioneer who starred in his own successful variety shows, most notably Your Show Of Shows, throughout the 1950s. Although he actually entered show business as a musician, Sid was recruited to work as a comedy straight man and eventually stepped out as a comic. Television made him a star, where his genius for pantomime (as demonstrated above with Imogene Coca) could shine. Caesar also performed on Broadway and in films such as It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Grease and History of the World (Part I). Although Sid Caesar was not a magician, he did have a memorable role as one The Amazing Stories episode titled Mr. Magic in 1985.
Posted by Michael on February 12th, 2014
Troy Von Sheibner’s new show has premiered on the British E4 network this week. Since it is only available in the UK, we thought all you non-Brits might enjoy of little taste of his magic. This trailer shows a pretty bold piece of magic. Whether or not you appreciate his style, he have to admit that messing with a man’s football jersey is a pretty gutsy move!
Posted by Michael on February 11th, 2014
Reza put up a new slow motion video of his performance of one of the more popular stage illusions out there today. Keep tabs on Reza and upcoming shows through his website.
Troy Von Schneiber’s new show premieres on E4 (UK) tonight. He has, of course, been doing some promoting including this interesting interview with Digital Spy where he explains how he is different from Dynamo and other TV magicians.
A new Science Daily article summarize work by researchers at the State University of New York College of Optometry that explains why white dots on a dark background appear larger than black dots on white which are actually the same size.
Finally, JB Bobo (1910) and Jack Miller (1884) were born today while Bess Houdini passed away on this day in 1943.
Posted by Michael on February 11th, 2014
According to Stan Allen’s Magic Magazine eUpdate, Richard Turner (the magician you see performing above) will be on CBS This Morning today to discuss his life and the new documentary, Dealt, being made about him. Richard is considered by many to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, living card mechanics. It was not a magician which inspired him to learn his amazing card handling skills but instead because of a childhood fascination with the television show Maverick (which was about a family of gamblers in the Old West). What truly makes Richard Turner an inspiration to almost everyone who sees him perform, though, is the fact he has been blind most of his life.
Check your local listings for CBS This Morning in your area; it is unknown when Richard’s segment will air during the two hour broadcast..