Famous Magicians in History

It's said that everyone stands on the shoulders of their predecessors. This is certainly the case with the art of magic. Here then, are biographies of famous magicians throughout history.

  • 01 of 05

    Harry Houdini

    Houdini prepares to do the overboard box escape c. 1912
    Bain News Service/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    Harry Houdini is remembered for his legendary escapes; showmanship and promotion; the loss of his mother and attempts to reach her through spiritualism; his frustration with mediums and exposure of their methods; and his death on Halloween with the storied promise that if anyone could find a way back from the dead, it would be Houdini. All of these elements continue to contribute to his myth and memory.

  • 02 of 05


    Robert Houdin
    Georges Méliès/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    A mid-19th century artist who is fondly recalled as "the father of modern magic," Frenchman Robert-Houdin was a decided force in magic. His professional magic career only spanned some 11 years, but his influence on magic was timeless.

  • 03 of 05

    Doug Henning

    Doug Henning
    NBC Television/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    In the 1970s and 80s, Doug Henning was not only the best-known magician in the world, he is often credited with reviving magic as a popular theatrical art form. Sadly, he left magic at the height of his career and died in 2000 at the age of 52.

  • 04 of 05

    Harry Blackstone, Sr.

    Harry Blackstone Sr
    Unknown/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    In the 1930's, Blackstone was the most popular magician in North America - a rival to Houdini late in the escape artist's career, as well as to Thurston. His professional career spanned some 65 years. His son, Harry Blackstone Jr., would later carry on the family's magic tradition with an elaborate stage show of his own in the '70s and '80s.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Jasper Maskelyne, "The War Magician"

    Jasper Maskelyne
    Unknown/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

    Jasper Maskelyne was the seventh in a line of famous magicians of the Maskelyne family. While an accomplished British stage magician, Jasper Maskelyne is best remembered for joining the fight in WWII and using his magic skills to help defeat Rommell and the Nazi war machine. His amazing visual illusions and tricks fooled the mighty German army.