Special Sub-Topic: I Can Make You Disappear
|Who doesn't like to be entertained by magic? Trying to figure out how it's all done is part of the fun. David Wighton was born in London, England in 1868. He is best known for the Mascot Moth illusion in which a woman vanishes into thin air. David Wighton is better known by his stage name. What is it?|
David Devant. Do you want to know how the trick was done? A black tube was placed on the back of the woman's costume. A mechanism connected the costume, which hung from wire supports in the shoulders, to the tube. Responding on cue, the woman covered her face with the wings of the costume and disappeared through a trap door in the floor beneath her. The costume, still hanging by the wires, gave the audience the illusion that the woman was still on stage. With the tug of a cord, the costume collapsed into the black tube and disappeared through the trap door. Presto! The lady vanishes.
|The ability to make an object disappear is one of the most impressive illusions that can be performed because it seems to contradict the laws of nature. The use of mirrors is especially effective when performing a particular illusion in which a person disappears into a special cabinet that has been wheeled on stage. This cabinet has a name. What is it?|
Proteus Cabinet. In 1865 John Henry Pepper created an illusion that used the Proteus Cabinet and the clever positioning of mirrors. The trick goes like this: a cabinet with open doors is wheeled onstage and appears to be empty except for a central post. The doors are closed then reopened to reveal a boy who has suddenly appeared, after which he moves on stage towards the audience. After the audience applauds, the boy returns to the cabinet and closes the doors. Once they're opened again the boy has disappeared. The trick's success involves the use of two mirrors hinged to inside walls. Once the mirrors are pushed flat, the backs of the mirrors match the hinged walls. In order to disappear, the boy pushes the mirrors toward the post, hiding behind them.
|Many illusionists use misdirection to trick their audiences. One illusionist, born in 1849, was a master at misdirection. In fact, some believe that he was the inspiration for the character of the wizard in L. Frank Baum's book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Name this illusionist.|
Harry Kellar. Kellar was so good at what he did he even performed for Queen Victoria. His rope tying stunts were one of many illusions in his bag of tricks. His most famous illusion was to seemingly grow a real rose tree right in front of the audience. Kellar knew how good he was and once remarked about himself: "A brass band playing at full blast could march openly across the stage behind me, followed by a herd of elephants, yet no one will realize that they went by."
|Another master of misdirection is this illusionist with the same name as a character in a novel by Charles Dickens. He has performed live on stage as well as in TV specials. He once made the Statue of Liberty disappear. Who is he?|
David Copperfield. David Copperfield, born David Kotkin, is known for his spectacular stage productions. The disappearing Lady Liberty involved a seated audience and the clever positioning of curtains and use of lighting. Although Copperfield never revealed how he did the illusion, a possible explanation can be found on various websites. In a nutshell, the Statue of Liberty momentarily disappeared behind the curtains because the audience, both seated and watching at home, wasn't aware that the stage had actually rotated just enough to hide the statue behind the curtains. The bright stage lights, temporarily blinding the audience, played a part in making the statue "disappear."
|Gravity is a law of physics. The larger the object, the greater the gravitational pull. But what happens when an illusionist appears to levitate right in front of an audience? Doesn't this defy the laws of physics? One Belgian illusionist took levitation once step further to create one of the greatest illusions of all time...a levitating woman who vanishes in midair! It happened in 1910. What is the name of this illusionist?|
Servais Le Roy. The secret to the Floating Princess illusion is this: as a silk cloth is draped over the assistant, dressed as a princess, she hides inside a table. A wire mesh in the shape of the assistant is moved under the cloth. The wire mesh is then raised, still under the cloth, using fine wires. As the magician pulls away the cloth, the wire mesh is pulled up and out of sight. Voilà! The princess has vanished.
|Considered to be "The Father of Modern Magic," this French magician performed his mesmerizing tricks in Europe during the 1840s and 1850s. The "Light and Heavy Chest" was one of his most famous tricks. Name this magician.|
Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin. The "Light and Heavy Chest" trick was popular with audiences. The idea that a small box could be easily lifted one time and impossible to lift the next has to do with electromagnets in the floor. The bottom of the box was iron so when the magician turned on the magnet, the box could no longer be lifted.
|Known as much for his endurance as he is for his illusions, which modern-day illusionist once stood atop a 100 ft. pillar for 35 hours?|
David Blaine. David Blaine, like many magicians, became interested in magic at an early age. In May 2002 Blaine's endurance atop a pillar in Bryant Park, N.Y.C. lasted 35 hours. He was not harnessed but had two handles for balance had the weather turned windy. His "Frozen in Time" stunt, in which he was encased in a block of ice for over 63 hours, left him in such a bad state that he later announced that he would never again attempt such a difficult stunt.
|Claude Conlin was a magician with a disreputable past. He had been married seven or eleven times, depending on which source you believe. He was a con man and imprisoned for fraud. However, his success at mind reading was indisputable. He wowed audiences during the height of his career in the 1920s. What was Conlin's stage name?|
Alexander, The Man Who Knows. Conlin had worked in Vaudeville so he was well-versed in performing, which he used to his advantage. As Alexander, The Man Who Knows, he styled himself as an Asian mystic complete with turban and silk robes. The turban wasn't just for show. It held an electronic device inside. His assistant who remained backstage would tip him off about the information contained in secret envelopes submitted by the audience. Once the envelopes were smuggled backstage, the rest was easy. Alexander became a mind reader extraordinaire.
|Exotic animals have been used in magic acts before but Siegfried and Roy, originally from Germany, became known for their acts using exotic lions and tigers. At which Las Vegas hotel did they work their magic?|
Mirage. The Mirage's former owner, Steve Wynn, hired Siegfried and Roy in 1990. For years they were one of the top draws in Las Vegas, earning millions in performances and product tie-ins. When Roy was gravely injured in 2003 after being mauled by his tiger, Montecore, the Mirage was faced with not only the huge loss of income but finding a replacement for the magicians. An interesting sidebar to this is that Terry Fator, a ventriloquist and winner of the TV show "America's Got Talent," is currently headlining at the Mirage.
|Sigmund Neuberger was a German-born illusionist most famous for his trick called "The Lion's Bride." What was Neuberger's stage name?|
The Great Lafayette. The trick itself told a story. A princess has to choose between marrying an evil king or being fed to a lion. She chooses the lion. Once she is in the cage, the lion, lying in wait, rears up to pounce. Suddenly the lion's skin slides to the floor to reveal the Great Lafayette inside. The audience loved the act. How was it done? During the first half of the act, a real lion was used. The lion received electric shocks from the cage's metal floor, causing the animal to roar and pace. During the second half of the act, while the audience is distracted, the back of the cage is secretly opened and the unhappy lion is placed in another cage while The Great Lafayette takes his place on stage, dressed as a lion. Neuberger was later fined for animal cruelty.
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