Wednesday, October 21, 2020

James Randi passes away at 92

James Randi, a titan in the world of magic and a successor to Houdini in many regards, has passed away at age 92. The JREF website says Randi died yesterday due to age-related causes.


Randi was born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge on August 7, 1928 in Toronto, Canada. He took up magic after seeing Harry Blackstone Sr. He eventually entered the field of escapology as "The Amazing Randi", performing numerous escapes from jails, safes, and Houdini's Milk Can. On February 7, 1956, he recreated Houdini's Shelton Pool Test, remaining in his sealed casket for 104 minutes. He also escaped from a straitjacket while suspended over Niagara Falls. William Gresham dedicated his 1959 biography Houdini The Man Who Walked Through Walls to Randi.

Randi continued to follow in Houdini's footsteps as he devoted his later life to exposing frauds, famously bringing down Uri Geller on The Tonight Show and faith healer Peter Popoff. He also sponsored the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge for evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event under test conditions. It was never claimed.

Randi authored ten books, among them the 1977 work Houdini His Life and Art with Bert Randolph Sugar. He also famously appeared on the TV sitcom Happy Days doing the Milk Can escape (well, helping "Fonzie" do the Milk Can). He appeared in numerous Houdini documentaries, including the very first, The Truth About Houdini, 1970. In 2014 a feature documentary was made of his life called An Honest Liar.

I had the pleasure of meeting Randi at two Magic Castle events, but I'm sorry I never got to know him personally. Growing up he was one of my magic heroes and remained so my entire life. I've often thought Randi is the model of what Houdini's would have become has he lived longer; a mentor to magicians, a champion of skepticism, and as close to a real-life wizard as one can get. I don't think the story of magic can be told without The Amazing Randi.

4 comments:

  1. The light of truth is a little dimmer tonight without Randi. In memory there is love; in love eternal life

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  2. He was one of my magic heroes as well. A great write up John. RIP Randi.

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  3. Very sorry to hear about Randi's death. I too saw Blackstone Sr. in Toronto, and also saw Prince Ibis in a carnival sideshow not too long afterward. Many years later I discovered that the Prince was Randi. I met him at a convention and told him that I blamed him for my being bitten by the magic bug. He very kindly sent my son a picture of him as the Prince when my son was planning a surprise birthday gift for me. Hope he is now talking with Houdini.

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  4. As I mentioned on "Facebook" on Oct. 21st, 2020, RANDI was one of the most knowledgeable magicians I ever knew. He was more than an "ESCAPE Artist." His kindness to me at one of the "SAM Annual Conventions" is clear in my mind. He autographed some things for me and was curious about my old shelacked "Randi with his milk can poster as you have displayed on tour site. I remember his strong promotion of Canadian escape artist, Dean Gunnerson, whom I met as well. Randi lived for years in Plantation, FL. His expertise on exposures of "Url Geller" on Johnny Carson and off the stage revealing the secrets of Url Geller in a book only enhanced Randi's status. His televised exposure of these so-called "psychic healers" was well done and hilarious as well to the means and lengths these "FRAUDS" and false charlatans would go to to hoodwink their clientele. Winning the MacArthur Award which was a few hundred thousand dollars aided Randi with his continued exposures. His on-going award of a "million dollars" for scientific proof with these so-called psychics was NEVER awarded to anyone such as in the times of our mentor, "HOUDINI." Indeed, we have lossed a very wise man😞I am not sure if he had a family. I would be honored if necessary to donate funds for his buriel or future headstone? As a small and close magic fraternity, we have lossed too many over the years. Personally, just to name a few I have known; Sid Radner at age 92, Cesareo Pelaez as "Marco the Magi" of "Le Grand David et al., Dr. Morris Young, Maureen Christopher and many, many more whom I built close relationships with. Our recent losses of Roy, Norm Neilson, Randi and others along with this pendemic not coming to an end is extremely painful to bear. However, as long as the ALMIGHTY keeps me alive along with a sharp mind, I can reflect and pass on my clear memories of those masters and giants of our craft that have left us to that "GREAT BEYOND!" I wonder if G-d has allowed the souls of "Houdini and Randi" to finally meet and, if it is in HIS power for me as well it not in any rush to find out😆Benjilini🎩🐰😷

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