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Karl Norman

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Karl Norman
BornKarl Norman Shisler
November 17, 1918
Sherkston, Ontario
DiedDecember 25, 2013 (age 95)
Kenmore, New York

Karl Norman (1918-2013) was one of the premier close-up and bar magicians working behind the bar and at the tables at Eddie Fechter's legendary Forks Hotel in Buffalo, New York.


He first became interested in magic when his father took him to see Howard Thurstonin 1926 and was soon learning magic from library books and magic sets. He became a semi-professional magician in 1938 doing kid shows and close-up. Norman worked for Gene Gordon as a demonstrator in 1946. After World War II, Karl presented a stage act for schools and performed at most of the night clubs in the Western New York area, including the Town Casino. During the 1950's, he developed a friendship with close-up magician, Bert Allerton.

When Gene Gordon retired as a magic dealer in the 1970's, Karl bought his wholesale business and ran it for seven years. Karl has also sold small quantities of his own tricks and routines including brass shells and latex peas for his Three Shell Game.

He worked at the Forks Hotel bar from 1970 into the 1980s.

Norman performed and lectured at many magic conventions, including Tannen's, Abbott's, Magi-Fest, F.F.F.F., NYCAN, and Close Encounters of the Magic Kind.

For years he had been considered the "Dean of Western New York" Magic. He passed away on Christmas after a short battle with cancer.[1]

Honors and awards

  • His routine involving a rope, a fez, and a giant nut, earned him The Linking Ring "Best Trick" in a Hocus Pocus Parade in 1979.
  • Guest of Honor at the first Comedy-Magic Bash
  • Lifetime membership in Ring 12
  • NYCAN Guest of Honor
  • Recipient of the first annual plaque awarded at the F.F.F.F. to the person who contributed the most to that year's gathering (1982)


  • The Close-Up Magic of Karl Norman (1985)
  • Karl Norman 40 Years at the Forks (1993)


  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 76, No. 3, March 1996, KARL NORMAN 40 YEARS AT THE FORKS, page 110
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 80, No. 3, March 2000, Our Cover, Karl Norman, Buffalo Baffler! by Mike Hilburger and George Graham, page 47