Top 10 Greatest Magicians



Top 10 Greatest Magicians

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script Written by Q.V. Hough.

They are our favorite conjurers of good times. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Greatest Magicians. This mystical list features the best magicians and illusionists of the world; both those who innovated the craft and others who carried on the tradition.

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Top 10 Greatest Magicians

They are our favorite conjurers of good times. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Greatest Magicians.

This mystical list features the best magicians and illusionists of the world; both those who innovated the craft and others who carried on the tradition.

#10: Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin

Considered a pioneer in the magical milieu, this French illusionist was so influential he was once asked by the Emperor of the Second French Empire to calm French Algerian tribes by publically mollifying them with magic. Originally interested in watchmaking, Robert-Houdin discovered magic as a teenager when the wrong set of books arrived in the mail. Thrilling Parisians at the Palais Royal theatre, and inspiring a young magician by the name of Erik Weisz – more on him later – Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin read minds, made his son levitate and caught bullets in his teeth. Not to mention, he also inspired the formal attire that became a standard for modernmagicians.

#9: Lance Burton

Born and raised in Kentucky, Lance Burton shocked the world of magic when – in 1982 – he became the youngest person, and the first American, to win the International Federation of Magic Societies competition in Switzerland. With movie star looks and unbelievable sleight-of-hand tricks, Burton appeared numerous times on “The Tonight Show” and booked record-setting shows at several Las Vegas casinos. Though he’s now retired, this magician paved the way for endless Vegas acts and even appeared on the classic TV series “Knight Rider.” And you know what? He’s one of the few people talented enough to make that experience disappear from his résumé.

#8: Dante the Magician

Born Harry August Jansen, this Danish magician began his career at the turn of the 20th century. As a member of numerous comedy troupes, Dante the Magician traveled the world in vaudeville acts and spoke his trademark phrase “Sim Sala Bim.” His 1955 death marked the end of the gypsy production era, or what’s referred to as the Golden Age of Magic, as magicians had a new medium with which to showcase their talents. While Dante the Magician never became what you’d call a TV star, he was THE vaudeville star back in the day.

#7: Criss Angel

This mind freak is the definitive TV star of international magicians. Inspired by Harry Houdini, Criss Angel spent years perfecting his craft on the streets before opening an off-Broadway production that would lead to his famous TV show. His illusions have caused some audience members to physically shake from shock and others to literally split in half, while his extended stunts have become Times Square extravaganzas. Now one of the most successful Vegas acts of all-time, Criss Angel continues to challenge our perceptions of the impossible and what it means to entertain.

#6: Harry Blackstone, Sr.

Today, magicians rely on personality to promote their craft, but “The Great Blackstone” simply let his work do the talking. With such memorable illusions as sawing a woman in half using a buzz saw and making flowers appear as if from nowhere, Blackstone Sr. also introduced “the floating lightbulb,” a stunt designed by Thomas Edison and later performed by Harry Blackstone, Jr. wherein he would make a lighted light bulb float through and hoop and then out to the crowd and over the heads of his audience. Elegant and always well-dressed, Blackstone Sr. even kept the troops in WWII entertained as an performer for the USO.

#5: Siegfried & Roy

White lions, white tigers and a couple of German gents that made The Mirage a Vegas reality. Oh my! Now retired, Siegfried and Roy appeared on “The Dick Cavett Show” way back in the ‘70s and proceeded to scare the living daylights out of audiences for decades to come with their theatrics. While YouTube introduced Roy Horn to a new generation after a 2003 tiger attack, he and partner Siegfried Fischbacher have long been thrilling folks with their extraordinary tans and furry creatures. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you can’t tell who’s who; all that matters is their relationship and possible mind control of the animal kingdom.

#4: David Blaine

You may not realize it, but this street magician just broke another world record. Born in Brooklyn, David Blaine was killing it with magic tricks before most kids learned how to tie their shoes. His résumé of endurance acts often lands him in the Guinness Book of World Records, but he’s well schooled in variety of classical tricks. You might find him on the corner with cards or even atop a 100-foot pole, and you’ll undoubtedly walk away shaking your head at his mythical antics. In fact, you might even find yourself a little disturbed – that’s what David Blaine does.

#3: Penn & Teller

These two magicians aren’t exactly the best of friends off the stage, but their mutual love of magic has made them household names all over the world. One guy’s big, the other small, Penn does all the talking, Teller doesn’t talk at all. Together, the skeptical magicians have called bullshit on a variety of topics, but it’s their ability to entertain that earned them a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. By keeping audiences laughing, Penn & Teller offer a casual brand of magic/comedy without taking themselves too seriously.

#2: David Copperfield

He’s far more than just a mortal man; he’s a living legend. The Library of Congress even said so. David Copperfield became the youngest person to join the Society of American Magicians at age 12, was teaching magic at New York University by the age of 16 and headlining shows in Hawaii just a few years later. In perhaps his most famous act, the New Jersey native made the Statue of Liberty disappear in front of an astonished Big Apple crowd. With a deep desire to move people with his magic – figuratively speaking – David Copperfield shows no signs of slowing down and remains the highest-grossing solo entertainer of all-time.

Before our top pick appears out of nowhere, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Ricky Jay
- Tommy Cooper
- Doug Henning
- Val Valentino [aka The Masked Magician]
- ‘Magic Babe’ Ning
- Mark Wilson

#1: Harry Houdini

We began with Robert-Houdin and end with the man he inspired, the Master of Magic, Harry Houdini. After little success with card tricks early in his career, Harry Houdini toured Europe as “The Handcuff King” during his 20s before bringing it all back to his adopted home of America. With an ability to escape from anything, Houdini introduced his most famous stunt, the Chinese Water Torture Cell, in 1913. As stars flocked to Hollywood for a chance at stardom, Houdini already had them beat and naturally became an American icon and undoubtedly thegreatest magician of all time.

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