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On Friday I had the pleasure of seeing Penn & Teller get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Their star is located at 7003 Hollywood Blvd, right near Houdini's star and right down the street from The Magic Castle. (It's also not far from the apartment where Harry Blackstone Sr. lived his final years.) Their star is the 2,494th on the boulevard.
The ceremony was scheduled for 11:30am. I arrived to park at the Magic Castle around eleven o'clock, and was excited to see Penn & Teller themselves standing in front. I figured it was the best opportunity I might get during the day to meet my favorite magicians, so I introduced myself. I chatted to Teller for a few moments about Houdini, telling him that I had seen the Witness to Yesterday episode at MCW 43 in which he portrayed Houdini. Teller made a joke about how it "must have been awful" (no, it was excellent) and said that he had actually never seen the episode himself, but he would like to. (Paging David Ben.)
I then walked down Orange Ave. to Hollywood Blvd., where a massive crowd has already gathered. On the way I was surprised to see David Copperfield standing mid-block. It didn't feel right to accost him on the street, so I enjoyed watching him greet Penn & Teller as they traveled down to the boulevard together.
I've gone to a handful of star ceremonies (including Houdini's re-dedication in 2008) and it's always a little tricky getting a good spot to watch. The city does not close Hollywood Blvd. for these events and there's not a lot of room for all the tourists, press, and invited guests on the sidewalk. However, I was able to get a pretty good spot and enjoyed the proceedings.
Houdini got a nice mention right off the bat when Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president Leron Gubler explained how Penn & Teller's star was "just steps away from Houdini's star on the corner." He also pointed out that it's not far from David Copperfield's star "just a few feet to the west." Gubler then introduced David Copperfield himself, who made a speech in which he joked about his one-time rivalry with the magic duo. "Our relationship was born out of seething hatred," said David.
Trey Parker of South Park and The Book of Mormon fame also made a nice speech, complimenting Penn & Teller on being a successful showbiz partnership -- a rarity these days -- and joked how his own partner, Matt Stone, wasn't there because, "He's a dick."
Penn & Teller then took the podium. Penn did the talking (of course) and thanked many people who helped in their career success. Penn thanked David Copperfield, calling him "indisputably the greatest magician alive." He also acknowledged Johnny Thompson ("the greatest magical mind in the world today") and "the whole Magic Castle family." He also gave a heartfelt thanks to James Randi, saying that there would not be a Penn & Teller if it weren't for The Amazing Randi.
It was then time to "make the star appear" as photographers clicked away. When David Copperfield joined them for a group photo, he stood on a riser, which I thought was downright Houdiniesque of him.
|Click to enlarge: Copperfield (left) and Penn & Teller (right) during the ceremony.|
After the ceremony everyone headed back to The Magic Castle for a special private ceremony in the Palace of Mystery in which Penn & Teller accepted the AMA Magician of the Year award (the big show is tonight). Being a "semi secret location" this time it was Teller who gave the acceptance speech while Penn stood mutely by and nodded. Pretty funny.
Following the ceremony, everyone headed downstairs to the Inner Circle for a buffet lunch. I enjoyed chatting with my usual Friday lunch friends. I also enjoyed when Castle librarian, Lisa Cousins, showed Teller their annotated copy of Spiritualism: Its History, Phenomena and Doctrine by J. Arthur Hill. Lisa pointed out the page in which Houdini wrote, "Don't make me laugh" (you can see it here). Teller was so tickled by this that he got up from his meal and brought the book across the room to show Penn, who also had a laugh.
All in all, it was a great day and a real pleasure to spend the afternoon with these legends of magic.
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