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, January 11, 2012

Are You With It?

"Are You With It?" is the title of an obscure Donald O'Conner musical from 1949. When my parents first came out to California, they provided the Magic Equipment that was used in the film for a brief comic scene. I looked for a number of years to find a copy of the movie to see what it actually entailed. Since my parents both had SAG cards at one point I thought they might have some on screen time. I had searched a variety of places to try and locate material related to the film. I called Eddie Brandt's in North Hollywood, perhaps the world's most well know collectors of film on video, they had never even heard of the picture. Finally I turned to one of my favorite sources on line, ebay.

The first items I came across were some lobby cards for the movie. I did not bid on them but I did steal some digital shots of the cards as you can see here:

The film is largely set in a traveling carnival/circus. So the magic material fits in well in the background. I kept looking and finally a private collector was offering a copy of the movie on DVD and I sprang for it. Well the copy is not great as you can imagine, and to be honest the movie is only mildly interesting. The biggest disappointment was that I could not locate a shot of my parents. However, I do suspect that my Mother's feet managed to make the final cut. Those of you in the magic world will know that she must have proceeded me as the featured "Feet" in the act. I do have a couple of screen shots that show the prop used in the movie.
 I originally got started tracking this down because somewhere in my collection of material there was an article in the Battle Creek paper, which mentioned their involvement in the movie and had a picture. I have not yet found the article but I do have a copy of the photo that ran with it.

Many years later, around 1985 or so, my father got a call from a friend of his who was some kind of agent. The television show "Simon and Simon" was casting for an older man to play a vaudeville style Magician in an episode. I don't know if he auditioned but I do know that he had a meeting for the part. The show decided to go in a different direction. Instead of casting a Magician, they cast an actor and had some one do the magic close up scenes. The actor my Dad lost the part to was Donald O'Conner.

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