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 23, 2015

Will Rock and Kirk Kirkham in Southern California

Back in the Summer of 1976, the Bicentennial year, our family took a trip back East to visit family, do some work, and check out some of America's great National Treasures. One of those treasures turned out to be Will Rock and his wife. Two years later, they visited Southern California and stopped by to see us.

My Dad was tickled to have Rock at the apartment because he was one of my Dad's mentors and friends. A substantial part of the Thurston Illusion show passed from Will Rock into my Dad's hands twenty five years before this visit. Mr. Rock had retired from Magic but he never seems to have stopped being a showman.

Dad put up a poster at the side of the pool, indicating that Will Rock would be appearing that day to escape from a straight jacket underwater. As you can see, Will took it all in good fun and acted as if he was going to disrobe right there and perform this amazing stunt.

Of course the real purpose of the visit was to celebrate an old friendship and to share stories of the Magic World. Had we been visionaries, we might have thought to record all the conversations that took place at our house. Plenty of Magic history could probably be corrected, or at least debated by the past and contemporaneity magicians that sat at our table or chatted in the "Magic Room" till the wee hours of the night.

A visit often included a meal prepared by my Mother. She was a capable cook but not necessarily a master chef. Most visits were so informal that dinner was a last minute plan rather than a meal tailored for guests. My folks loved having company but never stood on ceremony when it came to friends.

I had thought this visit was after I was married but The Rock's daughter Gretchen told me it was in the late seventies. When I looked at the back of the pictures, the information said Summer 1978. All you really have to do is look at my brother and I in this picture with Dad and Will Rock and you will know it had to be the seventies not the eighties.

I've been meaning to get back to putting up fresh material on the blog. The usual excuses of time and digging through material are the only explanations for the sketchiness of the last couple of years. If you look at the smiles down below, you will see why I have a continuing motivation to share stuff about my dad and his career in Magic. Don't these guys look like they are having a Ball?

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