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 7, 2011

You Asked For It --Death Basket of India

This is a performance of the Hindu Basket Trick that we always referred to as the "Death Basket of India". This was one of the Thurston Props my Dad acquired from Will Rock. We used it for big stage shows when there would be a switch and a boy would pop out after the girl had been skewered. In the late 1960s and early 70s I was the boy. The show we did at the PCAM convention 1n Santa Barbara in 1968 also featured an appearance by "Robin" from the Batman TV Show. It was actually Peter Pit, a well known magician in a costume that he had. Somewhere I have a picture of that and I will add it to the post when I come across it again.

Most of the time we used a smaller basket and there was not a switch. Instead, my Dad would step inside the basket and occupy the space to show it was empty. Then, he would stand, cover the basket with a foulard, and a figure would rise, the girl reappeared. I no longer have either prop. The large basket went to the Robert Houdin Museum in Paris, which has apparently disappeared. I am not sure who my Dad sold the small basket to. We did manufacture a simulated basket prop for someone in the 1970's, but the ones we used were always woven baskets. Here is a shot of my older brother Chris with the basket we used on stage for club dates and smaller shows.

This clip is from "You Asked For It", a popular show in the 1950's. My parents performed on the show at least a half dozen times. Art Baker, the producer also used them on a variety of TV projects over the years.

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