Dick Williams (b. 1927) is a former television and radio presenter and magician who holds the record for hosting the longest running television magic show in the world. Under the name "Mr Magic" he presented the show Magicland on WMC-TV in Tennessee from 1966 until his retirement in 1989.
Life and careerWilliams spent his early life in Kansas and began learning magic at the age of seven from a Gilbert's Mysto Magic Set, which he had received as a Christmas present. He remained so keen on magic and became so proficient that his local magic club, the "Wizards of Wichita", later made an exception to its minimum age rule and allowed him to join when he was 13 rather than the usual lower limit of 18. During the second world war he performed with the club at military bases. He joined the US Navy in 1945 and served on the battleship USS West Virginia.
He began his broadcasting career at the age of 17, when he won a voice contest and got a job as an announcer with a local radio station. After several years in radio he moved to Amarillo, Texas, in the 1950's to become a TV weatherman on the station KGNC. There he also started a television magic show.
In 1965, Williams joined WMC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Memphis, Tennessee. He was recruited as a staff announcer and weatherman but, after hearing about his magic show in Texas, the WMC-TV management also asked him if he would start a similar show in Memphis. He agreed on the basis that he thought the show would run for about a year. Magicland was a weekly half-hour live-audience magic series for children and first aired on WMC-TV in 1966. Against Williams expectations the show remained popular for 23 years until his retirement in 1989. In total, almost 1,200 episodes were produced.
Williams was assisted for much of his career by his wife Virginia, who was a coloratura soprano and music teacher. As well as acting as onstage magician's assistant, she sewed costumes, organized props, arranged music and directed other assistants. Virginia died on 1 January 2007 after 57 years of marriage.
Dick "Mr. Magic" Williams will turn 84 in July 2011.
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