Today is the birthday of the great Milbourne Christopher (1914-1984). During his nearly 60 years as a magician, he racked up many accomplishments: President of the Society of American Magicians, star of two full-length Broadway magic shows, producer and star of 10 national television programs (including the very first, in 1957, in which he caught a bullet in his teeth), performances before Presidents and potentates in 72 countries and a massive collection of magic memorabilia, which was auctioned off last year.
And his ultimate legacy I think will be what came out of his pen. Christopher is reputed to have written an astounding 10,000 published articles about magic in his lifetime. And more important still are his books. Walk into almost any library and you are sure to find at least one of his 23 tomes, among them: The Illustrated History of Magic, Christopher Milbourne’s Magic Book, Panorama of Magic, and Houdini: the Untold Story.
To learn more about the roots of variety entertainment, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.