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.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Joel McCrea and the Kirkhams

I don't really know any background on this shot. It appears to be a publicity shot from an MGM event. My parents were working behind the scenes on an MGM movie back in 1949, so it is possible that they were at an event on the studio lot. This is a photostatic copy of a glossy 8 x 10. The glossy is somewhere out in the shed and it would take me days to find it, but I saw that Joel McCrea is the Star of the Month on Turner Classic Movies for May and I wanted to get this up in time for that occasion. As you can see in addition to being a big star, McCrea was a big man. He also happened to come from the town my grandparents and parents settled in when the came to Southern California, South Pasadena. My Dad worked on a great number of movie and television projects but neglected to have the foresight to always a have a camera with him. If the smart phones of today had been available in their time, I would have some great pictures to share of Howard Keele, Ann Miller, Dick Van Dyke, Jimmy Durante, Diana Ross and many more. I like this shot because both of my parents are in it and they are not really posing so much as performing. My friend Ron, who was very close to my parents, shared a piece of info about the picture above. It appears to be on the set of "Stars in Your Crown", a Joel McCrea film from 1950. Ron says my Dad was a technical adviser on the film. I looked up the movie and there is a magician character featured in a traveling medicine show in this Civil War era Western. So Dad probably provided props, training or maybe an insert for the show. I was saddened to read that the actor who played the Medicine show magician actually died the week the movie was released. The movie is available as a Warner Brother's custom burned DVD, so I will be looking for it and watching it soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment