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.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

National Magic Company

The name "National Magic" belonged to an old and well respected manufacturer of magic equipment back in the 1930 and 40s. I don't know the history of it very well so anyone out there who is up to speed on this could please add some comments and help me get this right. At some point it became the brand name of Joe Berg, the magic dealer in Hollywood who was such a big part of our lives when I was a little kid. My Dad loved to hang out at Berg's Magic Studio. When he first arrived in Hollywood he worked as a demonstrator/counterman at the Abbot's store in Hollywood with Louis St. Pierre who later formed Hollywood Magic just a few doors away from Berg's studio. So he knew what magicians liked when they came into a store. At some point in the early 1980s, Berg's closed it's doors and sold the name rights and much of their inventory to my father. He used the name for his manufacturing business and when he went to conventions and set up shop in the dealer's room, he referred to his company as National Magic.

He had hundreds of parlor props and decks of cards and notes on effects for sale. He would take a selection with him to a convention, pay for the smallest space available and then have the widest selection of items in the showroom. He of course could not resist making trades either, so as often as he would come back with cash, he would also come back with more material for his collection.

I believe that the photos below, represent the stock he took to a local convention. It was a small selection but it had a nice variety of common items and hard to find materials. He also took with him a selection of posters from the Thurston Show that he acquired, and sold them. I will have another post on posters themselves, down the road a bit.

Today, the name of the "National Magic Company" is owned by my Dad's friend Gary Frank. I don't know that he ever uses it, but I do know that he carries on the tradition of performers like my dad, working at entertaining others and finding new ways to keep the art of magic alive. If I'm not mistaken, my Dad first met Gary at Joe Bergs, which should come as no surprise since magicians have been establishing connections in magic shops since the days of Merlin.

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