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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shopping Center Show 1976

1976 was a busy year for us. I was in the middle of my first year at USC, we did the first Ice Capades show, the family did a bicentennial tour of the country, and my Dad was promoting shopping center entertainment using the portable stage he had designed for the Christmas shows we did a few years before. I was not a part of the current show since I was at school, but as you can see in these pictures my brother Kirk fulfilled the family obligations by assisting on stage.

This is a shot of the fast opening that was a stock part of the show. My Dad did a dozen or so effects in a two to three minute prelude to interacting with the audience and beginning the main part of the entertainment. I suspect this was a technique he picked up on while working with Blackstone. The girl in this shot is Connie Keeler, she and her husband worked with my folks frequently in big shows we did in the 60's and seventies. I'm sure I will have some more shots of them in future posts. I was out of the loop on this one, she contacted me and I was able to plug in the right info.

This is a shot of the guillotine routine that was also a standard in my Dad's show. He could do seven to ten minutes of comedy and audience interaction with this prop. usually my Mom, and another assistant (my brother or I) were on stage during the bit. Each had a little comedy gag that was part of the act. This is a Lester Lake style head chopper that looks terrific in black, chrome and red. This is one of the props from my Dad's vast collection that I have held on to.


  1. Richard, I'm the assistant in the fast opening routine, wearing my black and silver strip costume and I still have this dress! I name was Connie Keeler and I loved performing with Kirk Kirkham! Connie Keeler McLeod

  2. Thank you Connie for adding your name here. I did not recognize you from this show, I do of course remember you from the shows we did earlier. I will make an edit right now to fix this post.