The Magic Castle is likely the most famous magic night club in the world. It hosts nightly performances by the world's finest magicians, and it is considered an honor to perform there. It is also the private clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA), an organization devoted to the advancement of the art of magic and its history, and it is a hang-out for the magic industry.
It is located in Hollywood, California and opened its doors on January 2, 1963.
It is a private club. Only members and their guests are allowed entrance, though courtesy invitations can be obtained by magicians visiting from out of town. During a typical evening there are numerous magic shows and historic displays, as well as a full service dining room and numerous bars. The atmosphere is reminiscent of classic night club days, and a dress code of fancy party attire is enforced.
As of 2006, the AMA has approximately 5000 members.
The Magic Castle is also known for its Junior Program (the Magic Castle Junior Group). The Junior Group comprises highly skilled young magicians, many of whom have gone on to professional careers in magic. One week a year, billed as "Future Stars Week," performers from the Junior Group are showcased in evening performances in the Castle's showrooms.
History of the Castle
The building is an authentic Chateau-style mansion built in 1909 by banker and real estate developer Rollin B. Lane, originally constructed as a near duplicate of the 1897 Kimberly Crest House and Gardens in Redlands, California. Ownership of the mansion remained in the Lane family until 1955 when it was sold to Thomas O. Glover, whose family still owns the property. Contrary to many rumors, myths, and even some "tour guide" stories, it was never owned by actress Janet Gaynor. In September of 1961, the mansion was leased to Milt Larsen and Bill Larsen, Jr., who began converting it to its present state. One of the Castle's most famous members was Dai Vernon, who often sat in the bar area entertaining and teaching. Vernon was the Magician-in-Residence at the Castle for many years, up until his death in 1992. There is now an area in the Castle dedicated to the memory of Dai Vernon, where his ashes lie in an urn. Dai Vernon can be seen performing in the Castle on an episode of "The Magician", a 1970's TV series that starred Bill Bixby. Other famous magicians who have been regular performers at the Magic Castle include Mark Wilson, Jay Ose, Senator Crandall, Johnny Platt, Kuda Bux, and Billy McComb. Many "celebrity magic hobbyists" have also performed at the Magic Castle, including Cary Grant, Steve Martin, Johnny Carson, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jason Alexander.
The Magic Castle in pop culture
- A Night at The Magic Castle is a 1988 Film directed by Icek Tenenbaum and was the first movie ever filmed/shot inside the Magic Castle.
- The Magic Castle was featured prominently as the home of the title character in the television series The Magician starring Bill Bixby.
- The Magic Castle was featured in the movie Lord of Illusions.
- The Magic Castle is the likely inspiration for the Gothic Castle, a frequently mentioned location in the television series Arrested Development.
- The Magic Castle was featured on an episode of Top Chef Masters where Neil Patrick Harris was a guest judge.
- The Magic Castle was also featured in the 2003 film 'Shade' directed by Damian Nieman.
- In 2008 VH1 filmed parts of Celebracadabra at the Magic Castle.
- Article Genii 1963 January, page 214.
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