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Norman Bigelow

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Norman Bigelow
BornHenry Hebert
August 12, 1944
DiedAugust 16, 2015 (age 71)

Norman Bigelow (1944-2015), born Henry Hebert but change to Norman G. Bigelow after being adopted, is a retired escape artist who billed himself as "The World Master Escape Artist".[1]


Bigelow, a locksmith, safesmith and wood-worker, created and built most of his effects. As a teen-ager, he was an apprentice to the Great Reno (Frank Renaud), a vaudeville style escape artist. He started performing escapes at colleges in 1972 with Irv Weiner doing an opening magic act.

For years Bigelow's act consisted of three main escapes:

  • Trial by Fire in which he would be handcuffed to a table before a ramp of gunpowder leading up to his face. He had to pick his way out of the cuffs in full view while the lit gunpowder flared across the stage before it finally exploded in a ball of fire.
  • Straitjacket escape performed on the floor, although sometimes suspended when facilities permitted.
  • The Doors of Death, originally called "Torture Board".

Bigelow's has conceived numerous escape concepts including the idea to escape from a safe placed in a building about to be demolished which was provided to David Copperfield for his television special.

He has written books and articles for numerous magazines including Genii, MUM, The Illusionist, Escapism.[2]


  2. MUM, March 1994