The Magic of Max Malini
This week in the History of Magic, we’ll go into the story of Max Malini, one of the famous magicians of the 19th century. In the small town of Ostrov near the then Polish-Austrian border (now Czech Republic) on August 14th, 1873, Max Katz Breit was born. He became known as Max Malini or just Malini and was known as “The Last of the Mountebanks.” Max Malini did not look like your typical, elegant performer, as he was short in stature and a little rotund. Despite having hands that were famously too small to cover a playing card and thus seemingly unable to palm a card—a distinct disadvantage for an aspiring magician—he nevertheless excelled in sleight of hand. Regardless of his overall appearance, Malini went on to become one of the best close-up performers of the age. His skill and knowledge of timing, pre-show planning, misdirection, and subterfuge were to become the hallmarks of his career. Each night before he retired, he would place all his pocket magic tricks out on his night table and immediately the next morning, the same effects would be replaced into their respective pockets again. He was most meticulous about this procedure.