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Ali Bongo

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Ali Bongo
BornWilliam Oliver Wallace
December 8, 1929
Bangalore, India
DiedMarch 8, 2009 (age 79)
London, England
Known for"Shriek of Araby"
CategoriesBooks by Ali Bongo

Ali Bongo (1929 - 2009) 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)
  • Devant Award for services to magic (2009)- awarded posthumously
  • Honorary Vice President British Magical Society


  • The Bongo Book (1966)
  • Be a Magician (1979)
  • Ali Bongo’s Book of Magic (1980)


  • 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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  • The Gen, Vol. 10, No. 2, June 1954, FRONT PAGE PERSONALITY Ali Bongo, by Harry Stanley, page 49
  • Cover Genii 1966 November
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 59, No. 1, January 1979, Our Cover, Ali Bongo, Pongolian Wonder, by Frances Marshall, page 51
  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 75, No. 819, September/October 1981, This is Your Live, Ali Bongo by Peter D. Blanchard, page 193
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 63, No. 2, February 1983, Memoirs Of A Magician’s Ghost, by John Booth, CHAPTER 172, The Paradoxial Wonders of Ali Bongo, page 44
  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 103, No. 1110, January 2009, ALI BONGO, President of the Magic Circle, by Matthew Field AIMC (an interview), page 12
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 89, No. 4, April 2009, BROKEN WAND, Ali Bongo, page 100
  • The Linking Ring, Vo. 89, No. 5, May 2009, STRANGE AND WONDERFUL, The Funeral of Ali Bongo, by Don Greenberg, page 53
  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 103, No. 1114, May 2009, Ali Bongo (William Oliver Wallace) 8 December 1929 – 8 March 2009, p. 114
  • Genii Magazine, Vol. 72, No. 5, May 2009, Cover, In Memoriam, Ali Bongo 1929–2009, THE GREAT, PANJANDRUM, by Brian Sibley, page 30
  • M-U-M, Vol. 98, No. 12, May 2009, ALI BONGO …an extraordinary life, by Michael Close, page 49, An Open Sesame Interview with Ali Bongo, by Bruce Kalver, page 50
  • Bio-bibliographisches Lexikon der Zauberkünstler Edition Volker Huber, April 2002, Wallace, William Oliver = Ali Bongo, engl. Zauberkünstler (*08.12.1929 Bangalore, Indien), page 361
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