For those who like their news in bullet points, heres a brief review of 2006 (though not necessarily in order):
Lance Burton kicks off magics New Year by getting soaked in the Rose Parade in Pasadena.
John Moehring takes the helm of the SAMs magazine MUM while the IBM continues to seek a new editor for theirs.
Jason Alexander packs the house at The Magic Castle, performing a mentalism act in the Parlour of Prestidigitation. Lines formed early and people waited hours to see his act; and they werent disappointed.
David Copperfield outwits some street thugs by using his skills to keep some valuables hidden. The culprits were caught and convicted.
James Randi lands in the hospital and has emergency bypass surgery. There was no mention of who may have predicted this event. Mr. Randi is doing well.
The Academy of Magical Arts holds its annual Awards Banquet where member-voted awards went to Shoot Ogawa, Michael Finney, Danny Cole, Ed Alonzo, Martin Lewis, and Whit Haydn. The AMA Boards awarded Magician of the Year to Criss Angel, the Master Fellowship to Paul Daniels, the Life Achievement Award to Martin Gardner, and other Fellowships went to Dale Hindman, Lew Horwitz, Flip, Bobby Baxter, Everhard Riese, David Britland, and Rich Bloch.
After remaining submerged for a week in a sphere of water, David Blaines Drowned Alive stunt ultimately fails when he is unable to break the record for holding ones breath under water.
The Conjuring Anthology by Jim Steinmeyer, a collection of his original magic that appeared in MAGIC magazine, is released and becomes an instant classic.
Dutch illusionist Mara blatantly rips off Chris Harts Floating Hand act proving that sometimes cute girls can have balls but no brains.
David Roth survives a fire in his apartment with minor injuries, but lost many irreplaceable books and memorabilia. He also survivedwith help from the courtan attempt by his landlord to evict him from his rent-controlled home.
Irish star Keith Barrys US television special, Keith Barry Extraordinary debuts on CBS to mixed reviews. It is reportedly the first of several that have been scheduled.
Two major films starring some big names and with magic and magicians at the core of their plots were released. The Illusionist ($39.6 million GBO), directed by Neil Burger, starred Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel, and Rufus Sewell. Ricky Jay worked on the film as the Magic Consultant. The Prestige ($52.2 million GBO), directed by Christopher Nolan, starred Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and Scarlett Johansson. David Bowies performance was the most memorable. Ricky Jay made a brief screen appearance and was the films Magic Consultant as well. The gross box office numbers tell an incomplete story in regard to the films qualities. The Illusionist appeared on only 1,438 screens while The Prestige enjoyed an exposure of 2,305 screens. On its best week (#1 during its first week), The Prestige averaged $6,489 per screen on 2,281 screens. Meanwhile, The Illusionist (best week; #5 during its third week) averaged $18,195 per screen on only 971 screens. The Illusionist stayed in the top 60 for 18 weeks. The Prestige was in the top 60 for 10 weeks.
Mac King, the undisputed Daytime Magic King-O-Vegas, signs on at Harrahs for another five year hitch.
Criss Angel announces a 10 year deal with The Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
After many delays, Switch by John Lovick is released. Had anyone polled average magicians, they might think that a book on just the $100 Bill Change might take up a couple hundred pages in a small format book. What we got is a 340 page, large format tome that includes a well researchedand wonderfully toldhistory of the change and a (to its publishing date) virtually complete collection of bill switches and changes.
Performance Artist Ursula Martinez creates quite a stir over the Internet with her striptease performance while vanishing and reproducing a small red handkerchief.
Belinda Sinclairs questionable performance at FISM seemed to get more exposure than did the Grand Prix Champions performances. Much to the delight of his friends, home schooled Rick Merrill brings home the Grand Prix for Micro Magic, while Pilou takes the stage honors.
Contestants on TV reality show Americas Got Talent include magician Nathan Burton, quick change artists David and Dania, and juggling duo The Passing Zone (Jon Wee and Owen Morse). David and Dania (viewers choice) and The Passing Zone (judges choice) move into the finals but do not win.
You Tube, an Internet video sharing site, becomes a tremendous hit with countless clips of magical performancesold and new; great, good, and badmuch to the joy of magicians. Unfortunately, exposure also becomes an issue, much to the dismay of magicians.
Harry Anderson, after riding out Hurricane Katrina in the apartment over his club, and after trying to rally local politicians, business people, and citizens into getting something done in the city, throws in the towel. He closes his nightclub, Oswalds, and his retail shop and moves to the Carolinas.
Two of Jim Steinmeyers books, The Magic of Alan Wakeling and Art and Artifice, both geared primarily to magicians, are released in paperback to the general public.
Volume One of David Bens long awaited two-part biography of Dai Vernon is released.
Andrew Goldenhersh is married: Officiating over the ceremony is the Reverend Max Maven.
Jonathan Pendragon survives a near-fatal accident in which part of an arrow pierces several vital organs after a fall.
Mickeys Magic Show begins a nationwide tour bringing magical illusions coupled with the magic of Disney to fans across the country.
The Vernon Touch, the long awaited complete collection of Dai Vernons column that appeared over three decades in Genii magazine is released. Besides the words of The Professor, the book is also filled with many unpublished photographs.
Eric Mead makes a rare appearance at The Magic Castle performing at the WC Fields Bar to capacity crowds.
Kalin and Jinger make a rare appearance at The Magic Castle dazzling the crowds with a small piece of their full show, Real Magic which they perform in their own theater in Reno.
Three Japanese magicians land in jail over the manufacture of gaff coins for magicians.
The Secret Life of Harry Houdini by Bill Kalush and Larry Sloman, a biography that focuses on the claim that Houdini was a government agent, is released.
Walter Jeans: Illusioneer, a book that Mike Caveney had trouble giving away when originally published (his words), is released in an expanded issue. Screams from those who purchased hard to find first editions at insane eBay prices can be heard around the world.
Ken Klostermans collection is legendary. Salon de Magie, a sumptuous volume with text and photos of just part of the collection is released in a limited edition.
A magician calling himself The Great Velcro who (based on his photo) looks like he performs in a bathrobe, finds himself in some legal hot water after slapping an autistic child during a performance.
Eric Mead releases his book, Tangled Web. Enough said.
At the other end of the spectrum, Penn Jillette became a game show host. Enough said.
Ricky Jay announces the release of a CD of songs pertaining to poker. The bonus edition of Ricky Jay Plays Poker also comes with a performance DVD of Ricky Jay running through various demonstrations, a custom deck of cards, and a well-written booklet that serves as the liner notes. The packages release date is pushed back to February 2007.
Ricky Jay opens a ten week run of his one-man show Ricky Jay & His 52 Assistants at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood (Los Angeles). The show sells out completely within days of its announced run. Copies of the deluxe edition of Ricky Jay Plays Poker are available for sale at the theater.
And finally, 2006 seemed like an especially tragic year for magic with the passing of several greats, near greats, characters, and loved ones. (Please email me with additions if Ive missed anyone.)
In Memoriam (in no particular order):
Chris de Palma
C. Fred Mosteller
Gene de Jean
Hyman Kotkin (David Copperfields father)
Phoa Yan Tiong
Elaine Lund (Robert Lunds widow)
Elizabeth Wilson (Ron Wilsons wife)
Mike Douglas (magician friendly talk show host)
So, a toast to missing friends and heres to a happy and healthy 2007 for all: