Welcome to the Calvacade of Magic Presented By Kirk Kirkham

My Father was the Magician known professionally as Kirk Kirkham, his real name was Charles and many folks called him Chuck. He lived from 1926 to 2001. He was an active professional performer from the time he was sixteen years old. Magic was the only living he ever had. He toured with the USO after World War II, did the spook show circuit and television extensively in the 1950's, did thousands of club dates, school shows, and more television in the 60's, continued performing in the 70's but also became a well regarded prop maker who produced equipment for other magicians and attractions around the country.

Currently, David Copperfield has the largest private collection of illusions in the world, but prior to his success and collection, my father may very well have been the previous holder of that title. He owned parts of Thurston's Wonder Show of the Universe and Mysteries of India. He acquired much of the core of his collection from Will Rock back in the early 50's but continued to add to it the rest of his life. He knew and worked with Harry Blackstone Sr., Percy Abbot was a mentor to him. Dante was a personal friend, and he owned famous illusions that belonged to all of them.

My goal is to keep his legacy alive here in cyber space, and provide some historical context to the Southern California Magic scene in the 60's and 70's. I have had virtually no contact with the Magic world since my Mother passed away in 1994. My Dad suffered from Alzheimer's in his last years and he could not write the book that he always said he would get to someday. I don't know enough about magic to write competently concerning history, practice and technique. I can however provide an historical context for my Father, a man who knew almost everything about magic during the 20th Century. He had a huge library, subscribed to dozens of magazines, and had met every important magician of the second half of the century. He was consulted by many of the experts that now make up the intelligentsia of the magic community. He was also a mentor to many fine magicians and scholars of magic. I hope to hear from some of those people as a result of this blog.

Welcome to the Magical World of Kirk Kirkham.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Museum of Terrors-Spook Show

The Spook show circuit of the 1950s is a relic of the past that I can say I never saw myself. It definitely precedes me. There have been attempts to relive or revive it from time to time. In fact there was a period in the 1980s when my Dad was collaborating with a guy to try and bring back the experience at the Rialto Theater in South Pasadena. They may have thought it would go well with the weekly showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

This is the first Spook Show that my parents traveled with. Basically there would be a late evening magic show with horror elements to it and then they would play a midnight horror movie. Sometimes a legitimate film would precede the Spook show. I have a scrap book with ads from dozens of local papers from all over the Western U.S., promoting Kirk Kirkham's Museum of Terror. It played in Idaho, Montana, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and California for sure.

My older brother Chris was just a year old when he was dragged all of these places by my parents. I remember my mother telling me about a time they were stuck in a hotel in either Boise or Bozeman and he was really sick. My Dad went out to find a doctor in the middle of the night and he actually came to the hotel to help them. He had a dangerously high temperature and the doctor gave him something to help. My parents did not have insurance (in those days most people did not) and they did not have much cash. The doctor took a token fee and came back the next morning to check on my brother. A different world these days.

I know that they went out with the Spook shows a few years later. That program was called "Shrieks in the Night". I have some posters and other promo material in the shed and when I dig it out I will put together a post on that show as well. Here is a scan of a small envelope that looks like it was given out when people bought their tickets to the spook show as a separate admission to the event.

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