Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Closet Magicians

It may or may not surprise you, but there are dozens of famous movie stars, athletes, and politicians who are or once were magicians.

Many people know that Steve Martin got his start in show business as a magician. His recent autobiography, "Born Standing Up" gave his thoughts on why magic is great to to get on stage. Essentially, all you need to do is walk into a magic shop, buy a Svengali Deck, and boom! You're in show business.

Some other famous people who are lesser known as magicians might be folks like Orson Wells, Johnny Carson, or even a few contemporaries like Steve Valentine (recently seen on "House" and "Crossing Jordan) or one of my favorites, Harry Anderson. Neil Patrick Harris of "Doogie Howser" fame is a noted amateur; he's been spotted performing on Ellen and on The Food Network. And who could forget Jason Alexander (better known as George Costanza), the Magic Castle's reigning Parlor Magician of the Year?

Actors aren't the only profession amateur magicians may turn to. President George H. W. Bush was an avid enthusiast, frequently patronizing Al's Magic Shop in Washington D.C. during his term as Ronald Reagan's V.P. I also have it on good authority (that being the Congressional Research Service) former U.S. Representative Jed Bradley (R-NH) was an amateur magician at one time. I guess there's still hope for my future run for Congress. Politics and magic have a lot in common: misdirection, subterfuge, etc.

Several notable athletes are noted for their magic enthusiasm. Many folks know of Muhammad Ali's love of prestidigitation. The Greatest of All Time was a frequent attendee at the Abbott's Get-Together in Colon, Mich.

Another boxer, Wladimir Klitschko, is a great enthusiast of sleight-of-hand. Eric DeCamps frequently speaks highly of the giant Ukrainian's abilities. I even managed to score a YouTube video of Klitschko performing. Can anyone translate?

But the most surprising to me was when iTricks posted this video of O.J. Simpson doing a magic act. Despite the weirdness of pro footballer-turned-actor-turned-well, you know, this is actually a pretty decent magic act. There are simply too many jokes to choose from, so I can't pick one. Leave your favorite O.J. Simpson doing magic joke under the comments!

But now we are going to have Celebracadabra from VH1, where several esteemed members of our magic community (David Regal, Jeff McBride, and Max Maven to name a few) will train celebrities to do magic. I hope this show does well. With guys like Maven and McBride, I trust the magic will be treated with dignity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

and if you do a entry on magician's
assistant you must mention
joan rivers getting her start in
the show biz as kudabox's assistant.

i think i spelled his name right.