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, April 6, 2012

Blackstone Illusion

So I found this clip on line one day, and it seemed to me very familiar. I was too young to remember meeting Harry Blackstone Sr., but my Dad told me that he did bring me to see the great man when I was little. The prop here is what looked familiar. I was sure I had moved it a few times in the years when my Dad stored equipment at rented garages around town. I remember that every time he needed something for a show, it was usually at the back of the garage and we would get covered in "Illusion Dust" and I'd sneeze for hours after. Both my Dad and I developed a distaste for black widow spiders at this time as well. They seemed to like to make their home in the storage areas near the props. We never found one in a prop, if we had I would probably have never gotten into the Dollhouse, tip-over box, death basket, Thurston sawing or a dozen other props again.

Any way, as I said this prop looked familiar. I remembered a photo of my Mom sitting in it when she was relatively young. I don't ever remember doing a show with the prop, but that is not a surprise since my Dad often collected illusions not for the purpose of performing them, but for studying, owning and ultimately re-selling. I finally found the photo I remembered and you can see it is indeed the same illusion that Blackstone performed in the above clip. I don't have a name for it, if you are reading this and know what it was properly called, please leave a message and I will post the information and be happy to give you credit. Someone out there probably still has this in their own collection.

Sometimes videos don't load properly, so here are a couple of screen shots of the video clip for comparison.

I received this info since I posted the comments originally. I have edited the author for his privacy, but the comments are very applicable....

the Blackstone illusion: it was originally owned by Nicola, and we called it the Nicola throne chair illusion. Nicola sold it to Harry Blackstone,Sr., after that your father bought it. I am not sure if your father bought it from Blackstone or George Hippissly, as Hippissly owned a number of Blackstone props. I had corresponded with Hippissly during the early 70's so I know this to be a fact. Hippissly also told me he had a "trap" cut in his living room to do a vanishing lady. As to what happened to the throne chair performed by Blackstone in the video...

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