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.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Magic Shop Visitors

My Dad always liked the idea of owning his own magic shop. In the 1960s, he leased office space in the building across the street from Joe Bergs and Hollywood Magic. Up in the fourth or fifth floor, he had a shop that was by appointment only. He did not cater to walk in or tourists. He was interested in working with and talking to professionals. A magic shop had always been like a clubhouse to him. It was where people interested in the same thing could find each other and engage in conversation, business and demonstration all at once. Because he had a large collection of props, many of which were valuable and one of a kind, he also liked to show off a little.

For five or six years, from about 1982 to 1988, he occupied a warehouse in Alhambra that was formerly a garage in the 1930s and 40s, but had been the home of Owen Brothers Magic Manufacturing Company in the 50s and 60s. After Les Smith moved the Owen Company to Azusa, the warehouse was occupied for a short time by a magician whose name i remember as being Carl Beck. He actually kept a black panther that he used in his act in one of the old service pits below the floor level. My Dad managed to get the lease when he left and set up his own manufacturing business there. He also created a foyer area that he used as a magic shop meeting area. Many of his friends would come and spend hours hanging out there exchanging stories and ideas. One of the magicians he knew was being sponsored in part by a well know sports figure. He and his sponsor came and spent the day at my Dad's place. In the picture below you will see the young magician, Lou Lancaster who was a close friend of my Dad, The Greatest Himself, and my little brother Kirk.

Just as an addendum, you can tell my Dad was a pretty good photographer, he took the first picture which is really nice, but the shot he is in, part of his head is cut off.

No comments:

Post a Comment