Cover of Genii (1975)
|Born||Glenn Jacob Falkenstein|
February 3, 1932
|Died||July 4, 2010 (age 78) |
Born February 3, 1932 in Los Angeles, Glenn grew up in Chicago where his father owned the Hi-Hat nightclub. From an early age, Glenn was exposed to magic by the many performers who appeared at the club, and later remembered learning his first tricks backstage at the knee of Paul Rosini. Glenn was then hired to work in the Chicago branch store of Abbott’s Magic, where he met Harlan Tarbell. Glenn was impressed by Tarbell’s “Radar Fingers” blindfold performance and vowed that one day he would present a similar act.
Following a stint in the Air Force during the Korean War where he often performed magic, Glenn returned to Los Angeles and earned a Bachelors Degree in Education and Master of Arts Degree in speech pathology from Pepperdine University.
Glenn had a daytime career of teaching children with speech impediments and learning disabilities. In the early 1970’s, evenings found him at the Magic Castle, honing his act with help from Dai Vernon, Kuda Bux and many others. The act featured Glenn’s version of the sightless vision act he had seen presented by Tarbell years before. With half-dollars taped over his eyes, which were then covered by a steel mask, Glenn would glibly answer questions written by the audience and describe randomly offered objects, all while blindfolded. He was presented the award for Best Stage Performer at the annual Magic Castle awards in 1972.
Throughout the 1970’s, Glenn was a frequent guest on network television shows including Truth or Consequences, The Virginia Graham Show, 90 Tonight, Tempo and The Merv Griffin Show. Falkenstein also hosted his own weekly radio talk show, broadcast from Universal Studios, where the telephone switchboard was often jammed with callers wanting to ask the mentalist a question. During this time he also appeared in Las Vegas showrooms as opening act for headliners including Ann-Margaret and Marty Robbins.
Teamed With Frances Willard
In 1978, Glenn was invited by his friend, Ricki Dunn to see a show at Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park, presented by Carl Beck (“Carlton”) and Frances Willard. Following the performance of the Willard spirit cabinet, Ricki introduced Glenn to Frances. The two hit it off immediately and soon joined forces, combining their acts and then with the help of veteran mentalists, Mardoni and Louise, added a rapid two person coded question-answering act to the performance.
The duo traveled the world for the next 30 years, featured on such television shows as “The World’s Greatest Magic” in the U.S. and “The Best of Magic” in England. Glenn and Frances’ contributions to the art were recognized when they received the DRAGON award in 1990, the Dunninger Award from the Psychic Entertainer’s Association in 1991, induction into the Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Academy of Magical Arts Magicians of the Year in 1996, the year Glenn and Frances married.
In 2008, Glenn and Frances moved to San Antonio, Texas, to be closer to her family. Shortly thereafter, Glenn was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. He died July 4, 2010.
- 1972 Academy of Magical Arts Stage Magician of the Year
- In 1991, Willard and Falkenstein received the Dunninger Award for their "outstanding professionalism and proficiency in the performance of mentalism". At the end of each of their shows, Willard and Falkenstein are always careful to assure the audience that they do not support any belief in spiritualism or the supernatural.
- Dragon Award at the International Brotherhood of Magicians convention in recognition of outstanding teamwork in the art of magic.