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Erik Barnouw

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Erik Barnouw
BornJune 23, 1908
Den Haag, Netherlands
DiedJuly 19, 2001 (age 93)
Fair Haven, Vermont

Erik Barnouw (1908–2001), a U.S. historian of radio and television broadcasting, became interested in magic at age 14 as cataloger of John Mulholland's magic book collection.[1]


His parents came to America in 1919, after the end of World War I, when his father became one of the editors of the Weekly Review.

Erik attended Horace Mann School in New York City and later went to Princeton where he was an editor of the Nassau Literary Magazine

Prior to becoming a professor at Columbia University in 1946, Barnouw spent the mid-1930s writing, producing, and directing a number of radio shows for the CBS and NBC radio networks. He also taught Writing for Radio at Columbia on a part-time basis. During World War II he oversaw the Armed Forces Radio Service's education division, based in Washington, D.C.

Barnouw was elected chairman of the Writers Guild Of America in 1957 and also served on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

In 1978 he became chief of the Library of Congress's newly created Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. While there, he wrote the scholarly work The Magician and the Cinema (1981) about the role of conjurers as pioneers of moving pictures.

Bibliography (relating to magic)

  • The Magician and the Cinema, Oxford University Press, 1981.


  1. Who's Who in Magic: An International Biographical Guide From Past to Present by Bart Whaley (1990)
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