The Magic of James Randi
In this week’s History of Magic, we put the spotlight on Randall James Hamilton Zwinge, born in Toronto on August 7th 1928 but is better known by his stage name, ‘The Amazing Randi’. Now retired but still very magically active, he became known as an escapologist, mentalist, conjuror, and scientific skeptic. After a bicycle accident as a child he was placed in a body cast for 13 months and read a number of magic books. Then he saw Harry Blackstone Sr. perform and decided then and there to make magic his life. It was Harry Blackstone’s levitation of a lady high above the stage that filled Randi with wonder and awe. He managed to skip a few classes at school then dropped out of high school at age 17 to join a travelling carnival as a conjuror, perhaps the best apprenticeship a magician can ever aspire to. In his early twenties he posed as a psychic merely to demonstrate that psychics used tricks and began a weekly horoscope column full of ridiculous but eagerly read comments by gullible believers in fortune telling.