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.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Orson Wells Update

OK, it is not really an update when he has been dead for twenty seven years and the events I have pictures for are from nearly thirty years before that. I just did not want these other pictures to be lost in the previous post.

This photo is signed to my parents by Wells, as the names he called them during their run at the Riviera.  That is my Mother on the broom suspension and my Dad in the white jacket behind wells and to the left. Dad always said working with Orson Wells was a good experience but a pain in the neck. I was reminded of this by a note I received just a day or two ago from an old friend of his, Don Bice. Mr. Bice had some very kind things to say about my Father but he also shared some background on a prop and story that I wrote about earlier.

Another young magician shared this story with me in an e-mail a few months ago
"Orson Welles did a magic illusion segment on the Carson show in the 80's (?) I believe,
and he performed this same Throne Chair illusion. If you can find a back issue of Magic Magazine - with the story on Welles - there is a nice contemporary photo of him with this prop, from that appearance." I wrote about the prop primarily because I had a picture of my Mom sitting in it and then I found a clip on line of Blackstone Sr. doing the illusion. That post is linked here.

Don Bice shared this info with me...
"the throne chair.
I was the magic coordinator for the Tonight show
appearance.  The chair belonged to John Daniel.
Orson had used it years ago on the old Jackie
Gleason show working with John Daniel.
Orson called John and wanted to use the prop on
the show, but John didn't want to work with Orson
again. The big O can be difficult as your father had
told me years ago.
John said OK if I worked with O, and I jumped at
the chance. I called Mike Cavney and a friend
of Johns, Dennis Parr to assist on camera.
The prop is now owned by Jim Steinmeyer and
at the last collectors convention in LA, they 
showed the clip from the tonight show."
I told Mr. Bice that I am not surprised that the illusion went through many hands,
my Dad traded props, bought back props and sold them again many times. John Daniel
was a close friend to my Dad at one point and although they went back and forth with their
friendship, they never let it get in the way of business. 

Anyway, it is a little more info on the business dealings my Dad had with Orson Well and
assorted others in regard to magic.

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