Today is the birthday of The Amazing Kreskin (born George Joseph Krsge in 1935).
I undoubtedly first encountered him on The Tonight Show or some such similar venue years ago, but — ironically — it was my kids who pushed him back into my consciousness. They are huge fans of Colin Hanks (digression: coincidentally, until recently the Countess lived downstairs from his sister Liz), as I say, they are fans of Colin Hanks, less from his tv work (which is probably better known), than two of his films Orange County (2002) and The Great Buck Howard (2008).
The latter film is a comedy about a young man’s experiences working as a personal assistant to a screwball mentalist loosely based on Kreskin (writer/ director Sean McGinly had been that young man). While the movie is hilarious, it’s not very flattering — it paints Kreskin as egotistical and tyrannical all out of proportion to his declining fame, and that’s probably why there’s no prominent reference to it on Kreskin’s website here.
I love such underlings’ tell-alls. As someone who’s had his own in the works for a good long while I can tell you that as a general rule they are richly deserved, and for the most part true instruments of justice. Of course I can’t speak to whether The Great Buck Howard is accurate. But it is funny.
As for mind-reader, hypnotist and psychic Kreskin, he has been a familiar fixture on television since the late 1960s, and still makes personal appearances all over the country, presumably with a long-suffering assistant.
And now here’s a much younger Kreskin on his own 1970s Canadian tv show, reading the very special minds of the Penthouse Pets!
To find out more about the history of vaudeville old and new, including mentalists like the Amazing Kreskin, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous