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, January 20, 2012

Vanishing Elephant

This is a prop that belonged to Thurston and that my Father owned for decades. We never did it on stage, and It is one of the items that went to the Museum in France (I Think. If you bought this from my Dad, feel free to correct me.)

The only story I remember about it concerns the magician Doug Henning. Sometime around 1983, Mr. Henning was getting ready to do this illusion as part of one of his television specials. He had a large number of smart magic guys that worked for him building and designing illusions. It appears however there was some element to this trick that they were not entirely certain about. As was often the case, someone decided to call my father and ask for information. As I've said before, my Dad knew a lot of things about Magic that others had only a little bit of knowledge

on. Anyway, they came over and he talked to them and they got out the prop, set it up and he revealed some info that they had not been aware of. He did receive a consultant credit on the TV show but I don't know where the videotape is right now. If I ever find it I will post a screen shot of the credit. These shots were taken in the parking lot adjacent to the warehouse on Chapel in Alhambra, formerly the home of Owen's Magic.

Addendum: I received a message from an old friend of my Fathers. He actually purchased the Vanishing Elephant Illusion about twenty-six years ago, and he still has it. He described how light weight it was and also commented on the canvas paintings which you can see in the photos above are quite beautiful. They were hand painted. He shared an interesting story with me that I want to share. He said he was a friend of Jane Thurston, Howard's daughter. She told him that the prop was built for a baby elephant and the hope was that it would be a unique attraction. Unfortunately the baby elephant contracted pneumonia and it died. Clearly not the way you want your elephant to vanish. His story reminded me that Jane Thurston came to our place and dined with us on multiple occasions. Clearly I should have been paying closer attention.

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