Richard Turner (b. June 16, 1954) is an American playing card technician.
|Born||June 16, 1954|
Although an accomplished magician in his own right, Richard does not perform “magic tricks” in the true sense of the term - he has dedicated his life to mastering and demonstrating the moves used by cardsharps old and new to cheat the uninitiated. Richard’s educational, yet entertaining demonstrations have been featured on dozens of television programs in countries around the world, including "That's Incredible", "Ripley's Believe It Or Not", “The 700 Club”, five appearances on Japanese programs, including “World Geniuses” and on Great Britain’s “The Paul Daniels Magic Show”. He has conducted motivational lectures for scores of international corporations and government agencies, and created and performed a family entertainment program for school children across the nation featuring a comedy routine co-starring his wife as schoolmarm "Miss Guided", his trusty, if somewhat wacky assistant. Richard’s inspirational programs promote honesty, integrity, loyalty, discipline, perseverance, and foster the ability to overcome obstacles and become the best that one can be.
An expert on all facets of card cheating, Richard performed his 19th Century riverboat gambler’s act as "The Cheat" on a constant basis:
- For seven years, two days a week at Marie Calender’s Restaurant and five days a week aboard the Reuben E. Lee Riverboat-themed restaurant in San Diego, California, once logging 2,190 consecutive days worked;
- Entertained VIPs for four years at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, Texas, the world’s largest honky tonk;
- Served seven years as Ambassador and Featured Performer at Six Flags, Fiesta, Texas, where he performed thirty-seven shows a week;
- Nine years at the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum in downtown San Antonio, Texas; and
- Demonstrated his skills at countless business expositions, magic conventions, private parties for the rich and famous and as a Performing Member since 1975 at the Magic Castle, widely revered by professional magicians as the most prestigious venue of its kind (where he was inducted into the Hall Of Fame).
Richard’s audiences have included celebrities such as Jimmy Stewart, Gene Kelly, Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, Mohammed Ali, and Secretary of State Colin Powell, who graciously joined Richard and his wife at one of their school programs. The most amazing and inspiring element of Richard’s career is that he auditioned and was hired by his employers without revealing his visual impairment, and never informs his audiences that he is blind!
Richard’s unique card handling ability and incredibly sensitive fingertips persuaded the United States Playing Card Company to employ his services as a “touch analyst” to evaluate the texture, flexibility and cut of dozens of decks of cards each year.
Richard Turner was born in San Diego in the year 1954. At the age of seven he became infatuated with the television show Maverick and for an hour every Sunday night, he lived the life of James Garner's affable character Bret Maverick. Richard loved to handle playing cards and, in mastering the skills of the cardsharp he became determined to live the rest of his life, as the closing theme song to Maverick broadcasted, "on Jacks and Queens" (despite having no idea at that time what “living on Jacks and Queens” meant).
Tragically, Richard’s eyesight failed at the tender age of nine following his recovery from a bout with scarlet fever. For many years his family believed that it was scarlet fever that robbed his vision, but doctors remain uncertain of the precise cause to this day, offering differing opinions. The doctors agree, however, that the macula (the center of the retina) of each of Richard’s eyes was completely destroyed, preventing forward vision, and the rest of his retinas suffered a condition he describes as a “shotgun pattern” resembling and functioning as if they had been blasted full of holes by a tiny shotgun filled with bird shot. By the age of thirteen, his vision deteriorated to 20/400, twice the level deemed legally blind in the State of California and, over the years, what little peripheral vision Richard possessed gradually deteriorated to the point where he presently sees little more than indiscernible shadows, and those only peripherally.
Richard began karate lessons in 1971 under the tutelage of Master John Murphy, the United States’ founder of Wado-Kai, a Japanese hard style karate.
In 1972 Richard auditioned for a small, non-profit San Diego Christian theater operated by television actor Steve Terrell. It was during his six year stint with the “Lamb’s Players” that Mr. Terrell taught him much more than acting; he molded Richard into an effective communicator in spite of his vision problems, teaching him by following voices to look people in the eye and to play, in effect, the role of a sighted person.
Another turning point in Richard’s life followed his introduction to Bobby Yerkes, the stunt coordinator for the “Wonder Woman” television series who also trained celebrities for the show “Circus of the Stars.” It was through this friendship that Richard gained control over his fears and their asthma-triggering attacks, learning from the master stuntman to swing on the trapeze, walk a tight rope, and take high falls.
As a stage actor for seven years and a professional entertainer performing his character “The Cheat” for thousands of audiences worldwide, Richard Turner has obviously achieved his boyhood dream of becoming an actor.
In 1978, Ed Marlo, one of the 20th century’s most innovative and influential card magicians who coined the term “cardician” to describe magicians like himself who perform only with playing cards, praised Richard’s unique talents as a cardman, actor and entertainer by saying, “Technicians as a rule are not usually good actors or entertainers. Richard Turner is all three.”
In 1987, Dai Vernon described Richard Turner as the most skillful card technician in the world, proclaiming, " Having seen countless numbers of card experts execute for over eighty years, I consider Richard Turner to be by far the most skillful. He performs the most difficult moves with the greatest ease. I doubt if anyone can equal him. He does things with cards that no one in the world can do – no one. I don’t care if you go to China, France or Germany, he does things that no one else can do, and he performs them beautifully.”
Author and renowned sleight of hand expert Charlie Miller admiringly stated, “They call me eagle eye Charlie; Charlie sees everything. I can’t see it, Kid - I can’t see it!”
Milt Larsen, Founder and President of the Magic Castle, said, “In my 45 years at the Castle, people repeatedly say of Richard Turner that it is the most astounding act of sheer skill they have ever witnessed.”
On December 12, 2005 world renowned cardman, author and casino game protection expert Steve Forte proclaimed that, “Richard Turner is the real deal! As one of the finest card technicians on the planet, Richard advances the science of card manipulation to heights never dreamed of.”
Lastly, on February 8, 2007 Tony Giorgio, the infamous eighty-four year old cardsharp and Richard’s one time nemesis at an earlier age announced that, “Richard Turner's masterful, magical, manipulation of playing cards is incomparable.”
- FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award
- Rotary Leadership award
- USAF Honorary Commander
- Honorary Inspector, USAF Thunderbirds
- US Navy Honorary Naval Flight Officer
- Golden Lion Award in Magic, from Siegfried and Roy in 1982
- Lynn Searles Award for Excellence in Card Manipulation
- The Cheat, VHS (1990), DVD (2005)
- Doubled Signed Card Routine, DVD (2005)
- Fans, Flourishes, and False Shuffles - Richard Turner", DVD (2005)
- Best of the Bottoms, DVD (2006)
- Shifts, Hops and Magic Passes, DVD (2008)
- The Science of Shuffling and Stacking, DVD (2008)
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