Our list of the 10 most successful magicians ever will definitely pique your interest in the field of magic, in case you’re not already an admirer of this astonishing discipline.
Magic has been around for hundreds of years, and its history is quite an intriguing tale. Before the 19th century, the scope of magic was minimal with only insignificant magic shows at local fairs to entertain visitors. However, magic took an interesting turn when in 1845 a magic theater was launched in Paris, giving way to modern stage magic that we know today. Since then stage illusions and mentalism have been extremely popular. While some believe that the glory days of magic are over with the advent of the 21st century, we beg to disagree and so will fans of the various modern magicians on our list.
Although every magician has his own point of view of what magic is supposed to entail, spectators adore any trick that in their minds defies reality and leaves them dumbfounded. If you are looking for simple tricks that can be learned quickly and executed by beginners, do check out our list of 6 easiest coin magic tricks ever for kids.
Getting back to the topic at hand, let’s discuss the methodology employed in forming our list of most successful magicians ever. We considered ranking magicians based on their riches and commercial success, but soon realized that that would exclude some of the most revered magicians of all time, who have long since passed away from this world. Therefore, we decided to use their fame and their talents as illusionists as our basis. We scoured the internet and took recommendations from several websites that listed the best and most famous magicians. The magicians with the most mentions made it, so without further ado, here are the 10 most successful magicians ever:
10. Lance Burton
We kick our list off with Lance Burton, a magician who has had an illustrious career, though a short one, when compared with other magicians. He became interested in the art when he was only a preschooler and was selected to be a volunteer in one of Harry Collins’s shows. His passion just grew from there, and Collins noticing the Burton’s talent taught him many secrets that only true magicians know. Under his mentorship, Burton’s career took off, and he went on to perform thousands of shows. Furthermore, he appeared on The Tonight Show quite a lot of times to entrance the audience with his tricks. He voluntarily concluded his career in 2010 and completely disappeared from the world of magic, but his achievements are lauded to this day.
9. Doug Henning
Although Doug Henning, the next in linr on the list of most successful magicians ever died in 2000 at the mere age of 52 following a battle with cancer, he didn’t fail to carve a name for himself in the magic world. When Henning was only 14, he carried out a few simple tricks at a friend’s party to entertain the audience. However, seeing their mesmerized reactions to his illusions, he got motivated to pursue a career in this field.
Later, he was provided with a grant of sorts from the Canada Council for the Arts on the condition that he would spend it to educate himself in magic, an act he performed passionately. His stage show “Spellbound” was a huge commercial success in Canada, and after it being brought to Broadway, Henning received a nomination for a Tony Award. In addition, Henning has had a TV special with NBC, has written a biography of the legendary Harry Houdini and has crafted tricks for the concerts of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Born Harry August Jansen, this magician first took up the name of the Great Jansen under which he even went on a world tour. However, the man who then discovered him and gave his career the boost it was thirsty for, changed Jansen’s stage name to Dante the Magician, a name thought to be quite fitting for a magician especially of his stature. After that, he became famous around the globe, with his frequent world tours and performances in innumerable theaters.
A couple of biographies have also been penned down after his death to celebrate his life and skill in the field of magic. The last one is a bit recent, being published in 2006.
7. Harry Blackstone Sr.
This magician ranks 7th in our list of most successful magicians ever. He served the country as an entertainer for more than sixty years until his death in 1965 but what’s admirable are his performances during The Second World War on behalf of the United Service Organization, a set up dedicated to the entertainment and comfort of the US service members. Blackstone usually performed with animated music in the background as he was in the habit of being quiet through most of the show. He was one of those sophisticated magicians of the past who garbed tailcoats and bow ties for their shows, and probably the last of the category.
Blackstone’s trick of sawing a woman in half was also quite distinctive from his peers. His assistant would not be placed in a box with her head and feet sticking out at either end. Rather, she would be lying down on a saw table with merely a metal clamp holding her down from the stomach. This resulted in the trick being more horrific for the audience, which meant greater astonishment when the assistant stood up unscathed.
6. Siegfried and Roy
The duo of German origin that now resides in the United States, Siegfried Fischbacher, and Roy Horn rank 6th on our list of most successful magicians ever. They typically performed their shows in the presence of a white lion or a white tiger. This has succeeded in making the animal their trademark and it is rare for them to be seen without it. They combined the fantasy of magic with the danger of stunts, an element of their performances that the audience was enthralled by. However, in 2003, Horn suffered a tragic injury from one of these animals, getting bitten on the neck by a white tiger. Fortunately, he survived but this put the duo’s career on hold for a while. They did perform a few shows following the recovery of Horn, but formally retired in 2010.
5. Penn and Teller
Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller initially started off with Wier Chrisimer as a trio of magicians in 1975. Chrisimer, however, called it quits in the early 1980s reducing the group down to two, which is now famous with the name of Penn and Teller. These two magicians are unique in the sense that they have brought magic and comedy together, making their acts not only entertaining for the eager fans of magic tricks, but also for those who just wish to have a good laugh! Their performances usually entail Jillette narrating the trick while Teller remaining silent miming his way through the show. Apart from the usual magic tricks, Penn and Teller are also known for their skeptical point of view on various topics that they would ruminate on in their TV series, “Penn and Teller: Bullshit!”, the last episode of which aired in 2010.
4. Criss Angel
Another famous name on our list of 10 most successful magicians ever, Criss Angel and his six season long television series “Criss Angel Mindfreak” are both considered exceptional milestones in the world of magic. “Criss Angel Mindfreak” was the first weekly show centered on magic to be brought to TV in forty years, and is considered to be the show that revived the enthusiasm for magic among the general population. Furthermore, Angel has won the Magician of the Year Award a total of 5 times and has been included in the list of people to receive their Hollywood Walk of Fame stars in 2017. He has succeeded in putting his name on several Guinness world records as well, the most interesting of which is titled “Most People to Disappear in an Illusion”, which was attained by the magician in 2010 when he made a hundred people vanish into thin air!
3. David Blaine
Known not only for his magic tricks, David Blaine, the number three in our list of most successful magicians ever, is an acclaimed endurance artist, performing feats that no other magician would ever dream of. He has been buried alive in a plastic box, enclosed in a block of ice, dangled several feet in the air in a transparent case, submerged in water for a week, hung upside down without any support, and electrified wearing a chainmail suit. His stunts are enough to astonish even the most cynical of people and typically run for days always succeeding to grip the attention of the viewers. Various experts have declared that he has brought something new to the field of magic with his stunts and his unique way of focusing on the audience’s reaction rather than the magician when showing his tricks on television.
2. Harry Houdini
The mark that Harry Houdini has left in the magic scene is obvious from the fact that even 90 years after his death, he is considered one of the most successful magicians ever. Houdini was well-known for his jaw-dropping escape tricks, the most famous of which was probably the one in 1904 when a newspaper dared him to try to escape from a pair of handcuffs that had been carefully constructed over a period of 5 years. The test was accepted without hesitation, and thousands came to behold the trick. The audience waited with bated breath as Houdini struggled to escape from the cuffs that bound him, but they were no match for the illusionists for he managed to break free and earned enthusiastic applause. He was basically the founder of a new form of magic which later became known as escapology.
Another interesting thing to note about Houdini’s passion was his extreme disapproval of people posing as psychics or spiritualists. He exposed frauds during his career, paving the way for other magicians to do the same.
1. David Copperfield
When it comes to the world of magic, it is impossible to find a person who is completely unaware of the feats that David Copperfield has the ability to perform. At the ripe age of eighteen, Copperfield dropped out of college to star in a musical called the Magic Man, fashioning himself the majority of the illusions that the show required. From there his career flew to heights no one could have imagined. To his audience, it seemed that his magic knew no boundaries, especially when he performed apparently impossible tasks. These include hovering over the Grand Canyon, walking through the Great Wall of China and making the Statue of Liberty disappear! Yes, you read that right. In 1983, he actually made Lady Liberty disappear to force people to ponder on what life would be like if we didn’t have the freedom we enjoy today.
In addition to his fame for executing the incredible, he is also the richest magician to have ever lived with a net worth of approximately 800 million dollars. Furthermore, he has been nominated for the Emmy awards a total of 38 times, out of which he has won 21. He holds 11 Guinness World Records as well, so it is really no wonder that he is number one on our list of the 10 most successful magicians ever.