Depending on how you got to this page, introductions may be in order; My name is Fred Becker. I am a professional magician and illusionist based in Dallas Texas. I’ve spent most of my life studying and performing magic. I decided it might be fun to make a quick list of the most famous or influencial magicians in the past 100 years or so. Seems that was a bigger task than I expected!
Criteria: It started as a top 10 list, but that just wasn’t enough. There are some fascinating people in the art of magic. I wanted to give you just enough information that it might inspire you to research one or two of us. So the list grew… and grew. At some point I had to whittle it down; I had to cut many friends and personal mentors like; Neil Foster, Billy McComb and Ron Wilson. They are by far more important to me personally than any of those listed below, but I thought being objective was more useful to you the reader. I narrowed the list to an even two dozen. Finally it seemed that just a list of names didn’t do much good; therefore I added a few thoughts to intrigue you just enough to look some of these characters up. When it is all said and done, this was a bit of foolhardy exercise on my part; I’ve already thought of a second 24 names to add… But take a look at the list, are there any names you’d add? Leave a comment.
1. Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini is the illusionist and magician who more or less the most famous magician that ever lived. His life continues to inspire young magicians today. Houdini’s story is riveting; he went from being a penniless Hungarian immigrant to being one of the most famous men of the 20th Century. The self-promoting stunt man who worked tirelessly and eventually became synonymous with magic. He spent many of his later years working to debunk mystical claims that were popular at that time.
2. David Copperfield
He is the modern magician that most people point to today. Forbes magazine has named him the most commercially successful magician who has ever lived and the biggest box office seller of all time. Copperfield’s body of work is spectacular and may never be equaled.
3. David Blaine
When it comes to tremendous feats of endurance, there is no one in the magician world that is more well-known than David Blaine. Few magicians have broken as many world records as David Blaine. In many ways, he is the anti-Houdini; instead of escaping, Blaine stays “in” enduring more than seems humanly possible.
This UK based magician has become known for a wide range of different stunts, from seemingly turning lottery tickets into cash to being apparently able to fly in front of people. Unsurprisingly, his critically acclaimed show is called Dynamo: Magician Impossible.
5. Criss Angel
Criss Angel Has managed to appear on television for longer than any other modern magician in terms of sheer prime time hours. His dramatic persona and wide variety of magician skills are the stuff of legend. He appears in a large show in Las Vegas.
Teller is the silent member of the Penn and Teller musician duo, and yet he has still managed to become just as famous as the vivacious Penn. Indeed, Teller really handles most of the actual magic performance, leaving the verbal presentation to his partner.
7. Lance Burton
His career went on for thirty-one years before he retired, making him one of the most prolific magicians in history. He has performed for a total of five million people in Las Vegas, and he has had fifteen thousand Las Vegas shows. Lande is a personal favorite of this author.
8. Penn Jillette
As part of Penn and Teller, Penn Jilette has been famous as a radical skeptic just as he has been famous as a magician. Today, he is perhaps more well-known for his acerbic libertarian wit in some circles than his conjuring skills. Penn and Teller (#6) have hosted numerous television shows including “Fool Us” on which your author (#25) as appeared in 2017!
9. Doug Henning
People who are looking for a magician who also ran for office in the United Kingdom general election as well as his native Canada, should look no further than Doug Henning. Doug worked in film, television, and had two hit broadway shows. He was an illusionist, an escape artist, and accomplished slieght of hand artist, making him a very versatile magician. He did much to modernize magic during his time.
10. Harry Blackstone Senior
Blackstone worked as a magician since his teens, and he helped create the profession in the early twentieth century. Blackstone was one of the few magicians who worked as a USO entertainer. He was known coast to coast during the mid-twentieth century with the help of the radio show, “Blackstone, Magic Detective.”
11. Harry Anderson
Harry Anderson has made more television appearances than almost any other magician. He has worked as a street performer and magician since the age of seventeen. He also had a successful career as an actor and author.
12. Siegfried Fischbacher
He is the Siegfried of the Siegfried and Roy partnership. They were known for being magicians who, among other things, made spectacular performances with lions, tigers and an elephant onstage. They made huge breakthroughs in the entertainment industry for which all magicians should be thankful.
13. Derren Brown
Derren Brown is another magician who has become famous in the skeptics community. We magicians call his style of magic, “Mentalism.” He is skilled at conjuring tricks and cold reading, and understands the psychology that is behind it. Derren is very well known in the UK.
14. The Amazing Johnathan
His is an act that heavily features hijinks, which makes sense for a magician that is also a comedian and an actor. Many of his shows involve simulated gore that has a tendency to look very real. Johnathan is the king of spoof comedy magic. Health issues have kept him from touring extensively, however your author recently opened for him during one of his comeback performance!
15. Ricky Jay
Ricky Jay is the thinking man’s magician. He’s amazingly skilled with a deck of cards, even having a Broadway show using nothing but. The one man show was titled, “Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants.” Jay is also an expert in sideshow “freaks” and odd showbusiness personalities.
16. Roy Horn
Roy Horn is the Roy of the now legendary Siegfried and Roy partnership. He became interested in animals at a young age taking care of a cheetah at a local zoo. Later Roy met Siegfried, the magician hired for cruise ship entertainment. Horn convince Siegfried to try using a cheetah rather than the typical rabbit. This proved to be a very winning combination!
17. Dai Vernon
Althought not famous to the general public Vernon was a pillar of the modern magic world. Known simply as “The Professor,” he served as a mentor to a good number of other magicians and worked toward perfecting the art of conjuring. He demanded that magic look natural and not some sort of contorted juggling. His influence is continually felt today.
18. Howard Thurston
Thurston was a competitor of Harry Houdini in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. As a magician he was considered the most famous in the world at that time. Interestly, Houdini’s legacy far exceeds that of Thurston. Yet at the time, Thurston was king of the box office. Of particular note was his presentation of the the floating lady titled “The Levitation of Princess Karnac.”
19. Mark Wilson
Before Mark Wilson, even the idea of a magician appearing on television was largely unheard of. Wilson was a pioneer in this regard is considered the magician who made television magic possible.
20. Harry Blackstone Junior
He was used as a prop in his father’s (#10) magic show as a baby. As an adult, he became a magician in his own right. Harry Jr had a big baritone voice that made you beleive everything he said. Largely recreating his father’s material he proved that magic is timeless. In his hands, the floating light bulb was real magic.
21. Cyril Takayama
Cyril is one of the most famous magicians in Japan. He known for his prolific creativity especially in creating magic for television.
22. Mac King
If you are headed to Las Vegas, check out Mac King’s afternoon show. It may be the single funniest show you will see there. King also performs a lot of corporate and public events, making him a magician who knows how to monetize his craft.
23. Paul Daniels
Daniels was a quickwitted magician that could enthrall a large audience even with small magic. He was a mainstay on British television for many years made him a household name in the UK.
24. Neil Patrick Harris
Harris is an actor first and foremost, and most people know him today for his television and film roles. The fact that he has also worked in the magic world just proves there is no end to his talent.
25. Fred Becker & Bobbie!
Fred & Bobbie Becker are a husband and wife duo from Dallas, TX who help make corporate events exciting. Learn all about Fred & Bobbie HERE!