British magician Derren Brown (see our list of the top 10 magicians) has dominated the airways for most of the 21st century. He has had 13 television specials, six television series and six of his theatrical programs broadcast on television. What differentiates Brown's television appearances from other magicians is his ability to constantly challenge preconceived notions of how the medium can be used to take magic in new directions. Some of his specials are controversial.
For example, in one program he apparently programs someone to push another individual from a tall building, and in another, he plays Russian roulette live on television. The fact is that Brown is constantly reminding audiences to question exactly what they can expect (and want) from magic performances. The Magician is an American television series that aired during the 1973-1974 season. It starred Bill Bixby as stage illusionist Anthony Tony Blake, a playboy philanthropist who used his skills to solve difficult crimes as needed.
In the pilot of the series, the character was named Anthony Dorian; the name was changed due to a conflict with the name of a real-life wizard. With his dazzling jumpsuit and radiant smile, Henning was the perfect man to introduce children to the world of magic, an adorable character similar to Gallagher or Slim Goodbody. The Canadian broke into this country for the first time on Broadway, earning a Tony nom for his 1974 production, The Magic Show. A year after that opening, 50 million viewers tuned into Doug Henning's World of Magic television special.
The escape artist and lover of Houdini created stage tricks for the tours of Earth, Wind and Fire and Michael Jackson. Wilson is honored to be considered the first magician of television, having presented the popular series The Magic Land of Allakazam in the early 1960s. Saturday morning's program also featured his wife, Nani Darnell, and Rebo the Clown. He would also be an influential magician behind the camera, serving as an official magic consultant on Bill Bixby's The Magician series.
Blackstone was one of the greats of the early 20th century, but it left its mark on the Boomer generation. The wise old magician gave tricks to children in Post Toasties and Sugar Crisp cereal boxes, and appeared in commercials for breakfast treats. He died in 1965, and his son, Harry Blackstone, Jr. Although the Israeli phenomenon posed as a mystic, telepath and practitioner of psychokinesis, and although many people believed his spoon-bending abilities in the 1970s, Geller was essentially a magician who performed well-known tricks.
Johnny Carson, with Amazing Randi's assistant, famously exposed his lack of supernatural abilities in a 1973 episode of The Tonight Show. While Celebracadabra (see special honor below) followed the format of reality television that has been developed over the years, there is a completely different formula at work when you look at how magic and magicians are portrayed on scripted television. This episode of the British documentary program is infamous due to the performance of the Indian magician PC Sorcar. Canadian magician Doug Henning ushered in the modern era of magic with his first television special during the 1975 Christmas season.
While there is no shortage of wizard characters, wizards from the actual work scene are not as common as they used to be. Follow Nimue, a faithful girl who has been sent on a journey to find Merlin the Magician and give him The Devil's Tooth, an ancient sword that is rumored to have the power of the only true king. The show is also important because it is where John Gaughan honed his skills by making illusions before going on to build some of the best-known illusions of the 20th century for magicians like David Copperfield. The Peruvian was a third-generation magician, and would appear on NBC's Magic of the Stars, in addition to landing his own special, Richiardí's Chamber of Horrors, presented by Vincent Price.
The series follows the story of Quentin Coldwater and his friends as a free adaptation of the original novels of The Magi, The King of the Magi and The Land of the Magician. There are specials with real magicians and fiction shows that show the magicians' interpretations of television writers. Take a master magician, associate that magician with someone you help solve crimes, and voilà, an instant classic. Sam Beckett, jumps to an amateur magician in 1974 who aspires to appear in Bill Bixby's The Magician; however, due to his partial amnesia, Dr.