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, June 13, 2012

A Couple of Old Friends In the Kirkham Magic Album

It has been a while since I have posted regularly. Just busy, but I did not want to go too long without an updated post, so here are a couple of quick pictures and Stories.

David Alexander

 David was one of those young guys that my Dad encouraged and he became friend with. I remember him visiting us at the house in East L.A. and driving an Opel, which looked a little like a shrunken Corvette. He seems to have been an outsider with the L.A. Magic community a bit like my Dad. I came across a not so nice note reprimanding him for some incident that was embarrassing to Bill Larsen Jr.  I have no context but it seemed as if they wanted to drive him out of the Magic Castle over it. That sounds like some one my Dad could get along with. I do know  that like most of my Dad's friends, there were a couple of times when they were on the outs with each other, but they usually got over that. I had tried to contact him when I started working on this blog, but he passed just a couple of years ago. I remember speaking to him on the phone after my Dad had died, and he told some great stories. He encouraged me to write about my Dad. I wish I had started all of this earlier so I could check in with David for the inside scoop on some of this.
 This is a postcard he sent to my folks when we were living in Alhambra in the Midwick Track. He was one of the early performers to work regularly on cruise ships. As you can see, he was on a Mexican Cruise when he sent this note. I appreciated that he sent his best to my Mom and us as well.

Piet Paulo

I think I have mentioned Piet before. He was a regular at my folks apartment in the 1970s and early 1980s. We built a Mismade girl and a Zig Zag for him in that time frame. I remember going with him and his girlfriend at the time, down to the Sports Arena to see the Ice Capades show we had built. Later on, he married another girl that worked with him in his act, her name was Lexie. At one point he was working at Knotts, doing a show and they left their sleeping baby in the car when they went in to pack up their equipment. It turned into a big deal because someone saw the baby in the car and called the cops. It was night time, and they were only gone a few minutes but it was a big stink. Now a days, everyone is much more conscious of those kinds of potential dangers, when it happened (1981 or 82) we thought it was much ado over nothing. This shot is in front of my folks apartment, around the bicentennial. I had that flag up on the wall of the room I shared with my younger brother. After I moved into the other bedroom, we put the flag out on holidays. I don't have it anymore but I do still have the flag my Mom put out on a pole at the front of the building. I don't know what ever became of Piet, I did get a card or two after my parents were gone, but as to his career, I have no idea where it went.

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