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, June 21, 2012

Tops Magazine Article

 The picture that is the masthead for this blog is a publicity picture used by may dad and featured on the cover of Tops Magazine in October of 1964. Tops is the magazine published by Abbott's Magic, the largest magic manufacturing company in the U.S.. Percy Abbott was a personal friend and mentor to my dad when he was a young magician growing up in Battle Creek Michigan, just a few short miles from Colon Michigan where Abbotts is located.
 This article was written Will Rock, one of the old time vaudeville performers, who had acquired most of the Thurston show before the war and then toured it for several years before deciding to retire from show business.  I have some nice photos of Will Rock from his touring days and from when he came and visited us in the early 1980s.  If you click on the pages, your photo viewer should allow you to scroll in and read the complete text. It is very complementary and has some details that fill in some blank spaces here and there. For instance, there is a reference to Vampira and Bela Lugosi which makes me feel more confident that the IMDB credit on Plan 9 was in fact referring to my dad. I'm not sure that is much of an honor, but it is sort of interesting to me.
 There is some additional background on TV and movie credits, as well as some proposed stunts that never came off. I would like to have seen the Indian Rope Trick at Dodger Stadium myself. Will Rock clearly believed the legal claims to many effects that my Dad asserted over the years. The controversy over the stretching a woman illusion appears to have some basis in the deal he and my Dad made when he gained the rights to the equipment. I am sure most of this will be of little interest to magicians these days since they all have their own battles to fight, but it might show that string of conflict that has existed from the ancient past right up to the present time.




As a kid I remember showing off the article to my friends and I think I even took it to school for show and tell one time. Most of us could not grasp all the material that was being referred to but I did like that my name made it into the article along with my Mother and brothers. 

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful tribute, Richard. Simply, wonderful.

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    1. Thanks Michael for coming by and reading.

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