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Chan Canasta

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Chan Canasta
BornChananel Mifelew
January 9, 1920
Krakow, Poland
DiedApril 22, 1999 (age 79)

Chan Canasta (1920-1999) was a pioneer of mental magic in the 1950s and 60s. Canasta moved to Britain following a stint in the Royal Air Force during World War II.


Starting as a card magician, Canasta became a well known stage magician performing feats of memory during the late 1940s. In 1951 he recorded his first television show for the BBC that concentrated on mental effects.

His television series - 'Chan Canasta: A Remarkable Man' - was presented not as a single magic show but as a series of experiments; attempts at understanding unusual, mysterious powers.

Throughout his career Canasta made over 350 television appearances, including the Ed Sullivan and Jack Paar shows.

Among magicians, Canasta is revered for the invention of a principle that eschewed perfection, believing that making an occasional error made his other effects stronger and more entertaining. He denied he used supernatural powers, saying that he had developed methods of psychological manipulation.

His final TV appearance in the UK was in 1971, on the BBC's Parkinson show. In 1983 he had some appearances on TV and on stage in Israel. In his later years Canasta established a second career as a painter, with successful shows in London and New York.

British mentalist Derren Brown cites Canasta as a prime influence.

Canasta died in London.[1]


  1. A review of Chan Canasta: A Remarkable Man written by David Britland (2000)
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