Ali Bongo (December 8, 1929 - March 8, 2009), born William Wallace in Bangalore, India, was a British comedy magician who has an act in which he is known as the Shriek of Araby.
Bongo performed his first magic trick at the age of 5, which he learned from the children’s page of The Times of India. He wrote many books on magic, many containing tricks of his own. As well as writing them he also illustrated them in his instantly recognizable style. He acquired the Ali Bongo name from a character he played in a national youth club pantomime as a teenager.
Bongo was one of the most popular stage magicians in the 1960s. At the height of his stage career he had his own BBC TV series, Ali Bongo’s Cartoon Carnival. He acted as magic consultant for many TV shows and musicals, including the Paul Daniels Magic Show for the BBC. He was also for many years associated with David Nixon, one of television’s earliest celebrities.
Ali traveled throughout the world as a consultant to many internationally famous magicians, including David Copperfield in Las Vegas.
Bongo was involved in a serious car crash in June 2003 on his way to perform at a charity function.
Bongo was a past president of the Concert Artistes Association and a member of the Inner Magic Circle. On 8 September 2008, he was elected President of The Magic Circle.
At the beginning of February 2009, Bongo collapsed while giving a lecture in Paris. He was taken to hospital and, whilst there, suffered a stroke. Bongo was subsequently returned to the United Kingdom and cared for in St Thomas' Hospital, London, where he later died from complications arising from pneumonia.
Awards and honors
- Carlton Award for Comedy (1993)
- The Bongo Book (1966)
- Be a Magician (1979)
- Was mentioned in the Half Man Half Biscuit song, "Reflections in a flat".
- Bongo was mentioned in a Little Britain sketch.
- Bongo is great uncle to the Portsmouth footballer David Nugent.
- Bongo was featured in an episode of Children's TV show Rainbow and appeared in the science-fiction show The Tomorrow People in the serial "Revenge of Jedikiah".
- Bongo was the magical adviser to 70s cult TV show, Ace of Wands
- Bongo was mentioned in a series two episode of the Mighty Boosh
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