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Top Magicians To Have Ever Lived Guide

Magician David Coppefield On Motor Cycle

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Why Do We Love Magic?

Magic allows us to see a world that we do not normally interact with daily.  When you think about magic, you may think of objects flying around in the air. Perhaps you may think about optical illusions. 

Some magicians have stood out more than others over the years.  Some of the names that we are going to talk about in this article may be familiar to you.  We want you to get a good understanding of why these magicians are the best in the world and the greatest that ever lived in recorded history.

Who Are The Top Magicians That Ever Lived?

  • David Copperfield
  • Harry Houdini
  • Val Valentino
  • James Randi
  • David Blaine
  • Lance Burton
  • Shin Lim
  • David Devant
  • Apollo Robbins
  • Penn Jilette and Raymond Teller

In 2006, I did have the privilege of seeing Lance Burton live in Las Vegas.  I can tell you that he is the real deal.  He literally floated a car above my head. I was sitting in the second row of the auditorium and slowly over my head, floated a car.  Yes, I was amazed. I had never experienced magic like this before in my life.  I witnessed Lance Burton doing things with magic that only makes us wonder if he is consulting some demonic force from the supernatural world to help him.  It is amazing magic I must say!

Who Is Lance Burton?

He was born on March 10, 1960.  This makes him a Pisces zodiac sign.  His sign is represented by two fishes.  Lance Burton is known mainly as a stage performing magician.  Can you believe that nearly 5 million people have seen one of his 15,000 shows in Las Vegas?  That is a true showman. 

Unfortunately, you cannot see Lance Burton live anymore in Las Vegas. He ended the show in 2010.  Lance got a liking towards magic at the age of five. A magician by the name of Harry Collins inspired him to become fascinated with magic. 

His mom worked at a Frito Lays factors and a magician appeared there. The company was having its Christmas party and they invited a guest magician.  When young Lance saw this magician pulling coins out of the air and from behind his ear, he was intrigued. 

One of the first books that he ever read was called, “Magic Made Easy”.  This was a book that was given to him by one of his neighbors after they found out that he had a liking towards magic. 

Lance Burton studied the manual and soon learned all ten tricks that were in the book.  It was obvious that he had a natural born tendency for magic.  He started doing magic as a young boy in front of other kids.  He would charge 5 cents a show.  It was clear that he would one day be a stage performer. The energy that he gave to his audience was nothing but spectacular.

Magician Collins was excited to learn that Lance Burton took such a keen interest in magic. He decided to mentor him in his teen years. He wanted him to learn the basics of magic and how it works. 

For those of you that are not familiar with magic, there are competitions in which magicians compete for prizes. In 1977, Lance Burton did compete in a magic competition and won first place. 

When Lance turned 20 years old, an organization called The International Brotherhood of Magicians awarded him the golden medal of excellence. 

Lance Burton was beginning to gain more recognition for his work in magic. In later days, he moves to Southern California. Upon arriving, he went on the Tonight Show.  That happened on October 28, 1981.  The audience loved him, and he was an instant hit. 

Host Johnny Carson invited him back for another 9 shows.  When Jay Leno became the new host for the Tonight show, he was invited back 10 more times. It was clear that the audience loved the magic of Lance Burton. 

Another big showbiz break came for Lance Burton when he performed at the Folies Bergère show in Las Vegas.  What started out as only an eight-week contract, turned into one that lasted for nine years.  It was clear that he has an attention grabber that amazed audiences. 

Who Is David Copperfield?

Born on September 16, 1956.  This makes him a Virgo zodiac sign.  He is the most accomplished magician of all time. He is even more famous than Michael Jackson. 

David has received 21 Emmy awards from his television appearances.  Fans are often inspired by his ability to tell a story with his magical illusions. If you have ever been to one of his shows, you may recall him telling a story of where a certain magic trick came from or why he collects some of the most haunted objects ever heard of in the world today. 

He has a whopping 11 Guiness book of world records.  Like Wendy Williams, David Copperfield, he even got a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Way to Go David!

His shows have earned over four billion dollars.  There is no other entertainer in history that has sold more tickets than David Copperfield.  No matter what religious background you come from, people run to see his shows. He is the best of the best.

He also owns around eleven resort islands in the Bahamas. 

Interesting Facts About David Copperfield That You May Not Know:

  1. He was born in New Jersey. 
  2. His real name is David Seth Kotkin.
  3. His parents were Jewish.
  4. He attended Metuchen High School as a youth.
  5. His first magician stage name at ten years old was “Davino the Boy Magician”.
  6. The Society of American Magicians accepted him at only 12 years old.  He was the youngest magician to ever be accepted.
  7. He was a loner growing up. 
  8. He wanted to practice magic so that he can fit in with other people.
  9. He went to Camp Harmony to practice magic and ventriloquism.
  10. At age 16, he taught courses in magic at New York University.

Joseph Cates was a Broadway and television producer that first discovered David Copperfield.  In 1977, David Copperfield performed his show through this producer called, The Magic of Copperfield. It appeared on ABC.  Since 1977, he has appeared with other ABC shows from September 7, 1977 to April 3, 2001.

In 1983, I can remember Davide Copperfield making the Statue Of Liberty disappear on television. This is one of the best times in which families gathered to watch this amazing event.

Other World-Famous Magic Acts Performed By David Copperfield:

  • Making the Learjet disappear in 1981. 
  • He levitated over the Grand Canyon in 1984.
  • He walked through the Great Wall of China in 1986.
  • He escaped from Alcatraz prison in 1987.
  • He also flew around on stage for a long time in 1992. 

Who Is Criss Angel?

Let us move onto our next magician.  If you love to watch magic television shows, you have probably watched Criss Angel Mind freak on television already.  Criss was born on December 19, 1967.  This makes him a Sagittarius zodiac sign.  His career began in New York City and now performs in Las Vegas. 

I did see the Las Vegas Criss Angel Believe show back in 2009. The shows made a whopping 150 million dollars. That is a lot of cash!

However, today it is called Mind freak Live.  It is produced at Cirque du Soleil.  Many magic fans considered him to be more of the 21st century “David Copperfield”.  Many millennials and younger crowds feel that they can identify with him a bit easier because he is younger than Copperfield. He also has a “cool young vibe” to himself.  Most fans are amazed by his magic and feel that he inspires them. 

Some Facts About Criss Angel That You May Not Know:

  • He was born in Hempstead, on Long Island in New York.
  • He is Greek. 
  • He became interested in magic when he was only seven years old.
  • He did his first magic show at twelve years old. He charged a $10.00 admission fee.
  • His inspiration for magic came from Harry Houdini.
  • He began doing magic shows in high school cafes. 
  • He made his mother disappear in his living room.
  • He chose to study magic instead of going to college. 
  • He felt the need to create his own style of magic.
  • His first television appearance happened in 1994.
  • He spent 24 hours submerged in a tank of water (never was done before).
  • He does not think that a medium can speak to the dead. 

Who Was Harry Houdini?

The name Harry Houdini needs no introduction.  He is considered the most unbelievable magician to have ever lived.  He was born on March 24, 1874. This makes his horoscope sign an Aries.  People that are not even fans of Houdini will say, “Nice going Houdini” when they want to criticize something disappearing.

He was best known for his illusions and stunt performing. Fans loved to watch him escaping from chains.   He was best known for being buried alive and surfacing.  For a short time, he pursued acting, but was not successful at making any money in it. 

Interesting Facts About Houdini:

  • His real name was Erik Weisz.
  • His family was Jewish.
  • He had 7 brothers and sisters.
  • He took on the stage name of Harry Houdini because of a French magician named Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. 
  • His mentor was magician Joseph Rinn.
  • He started his magic career in 1891.
  • His magic first started out doing card tricks.
  • He did not find much financial success in magic until he met a man named Martin Beck in 1899.  He was a manager that booked him to do shows at Orpheum Vaudeville.  Martin was impressed by Houdini’s ability to break out of handcuffs.  He told him that he needed to concentrate more on doing escape acts to have a show that would be financially successful.
  • He became one of the world wealthiest entertainers of his time. 
  • He was known to escape out of many prisons as part of his tricks.
  • He was known to perform life or death acts. He would either come out alive or dead. Audiences were amazed by his talent. 

Harry Houdini was also known for exposing psychics and mediums.    He thought of them as being professional entertainers that were not really speaking to the dead of having any kind of real ability to speak to the dead.  You can see that he and present-day magician Criss Angel share that in common. 

Who Is Val Valentino?

Val Valentino is an American musician that was born on June 14, 1956. This makes him a Gemini zodiac sign.  He had a show on television in which he would explain how magic tricks were done. He exposed some of the secrets of magicians.  His stage name was the Masked Magician. 

In his show, he wore a mask so that nobody knew who he was. It was not until his last showed aired that he revealed who he really was.

Some Facts About Val Valentino:

  1. He took an interest in magic at age 5.
  2. Her performed In Las Vegas shows called Viva Las Vegas and Splash. 
  3. One of his ambitions in life was to expose how magic is done so that children would want to become magicians later in life. 

Who Is James Randi?

He is a retired stage magician.  You may have seen him on television debunking psychics and mediums.  He made several appearances on Larry King Live because he did not like the mediumship practices of celebrity psychic Sylvia Browne and others that were charging $700.00 or more for a psychic reading.

“He is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation. “

During his active years as a magician, he used the stage name “The Amazing Randi”.  He devoted a lot of his time to investigating the paranormal.  He retired from magic shows at the age of 60 and afterwards began investigating the paranormal. 

He was also on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  On one show, he exposed faith healer Peter Popoff.  In his exposure, he gave evidence that Peter Popoff was receiving messages via a hearing device. She would tell him the name of the person and the ailment without anyone else knowing that she was speaking to him through the earpiece. This was a big deal since he claimed that God would tell him the names of the people and their ailments. People were amazed that he knew their ailment before even meeting them. However, James Randi proved that he was a fraud. 

Some Facts About James Randi:

  • He was born on August 7, 1928 in Toronto, Canada.
  • He took an interest in magic after seeing magician Harry Blackstone Sr. perform.
  • He dropped out of high school at age 17.
  • His career as a stage magician started in 1946.
  • His real name is Randall Zwinge.
  • He remained in a sealed coffin for 104 minutes on February 7, 1956. 
  • He has written 10 books.

Who Is David Blaine?

He is one of the most recognized people in magic. Born on born April 4, 1973. This makes him an Aries zodiac sign. He is best known as being an American illusionist.  He is known for breaking world records.

David Blane is known for giving a fresh approach to magic. When you see him on television, he often shows the people watching him on camera.  He loves to get their reaction when he performs the impossible right in front of their eyes. 

Street Magic was a television show that showcased David Blanes talents in magic. He has also been seen on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.

What Are Some Facts About David Blane?

  • He is the son of a single mother.
  • His mother is Jewish.
  • His father is Puerto Rican and Italian.
  • He saw a magician performing on the subway at 4 years old. This sparked his interest in magic after that.
  • He attended many schools in Brooklyn as a child.
  • On May 19, 1997, he did his first magic show on ABC.  It was called David Blaine: Street Magic. 
  • He buried himself alive on April 5, 1999 for 7 days.  He only used a hand buzzer to communicate to the outside world during that time.  He did not eat for the full 7 days. He only drank 2 or 3 tablespoons of water a day. 
  • He did a drowned alive trick in 2006. 
  • In 2010, he performed a magic trick called, “What Is Magic?”.  He created an illusion where he was able to catch a bullet in his mouth by holding a metal cup between his teeth.
  • He gave magic performances to Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in the Oval Office.

Who Is Shin Lim?

If you watch Americas got talent, the name Shin Lim may bring back memories.  He was a magician that appeared on the show that amazed his audience He was born on September 25, 1991. This makes him a Libra zodiac sign.

He is best known for his card magic tricks. Being so fast that you would think that he is using demons to help him out. He learned most of his magic tricks from watching videos.  He is a trained pianist that was going to pursue a career in piano. However, when he developed carpal tunnel syndrome, he got into magic. 

He has made appearances on Penn & Teller: Fool Us and Americas got talent. 

Facts About Shin Lim:

  • He is Chinese.
  • He was born in Vancouver Canada.
  • He attended Lee University in Tennessee.
  • He took an interest in magic as a kid after his brother showed him a card trick.
  • He now has a magic show in Las Vegas at the Terry Fator Theatre at the Mirage Casino Hotel.
  • He has been on the Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Today Show. 

Who Is David Devant?

He was born on February 22, 1868.  This makes him a Pisces zodiac sign. He was a well-known English magician. He was born with the real name David Wighton in London, England.  He was well known for his own stage illusions.  He is the best magician in England’s History.  Some say that he was the best magician of the 20th century. 

In England, he was invited to do Royal Command Performances.  He died on October 13, 1941. 

Who Was Apollo Robbins?

He was born on May 23, 1974.  He is a sleight-of-hand artist.  He is best known for taking something from a person’s pocket, purse, hands, neck and almost every other place without someone noticing. His performances would demonstrate that he could take something from your pocket without you even realizing it. He amazed audiences with his skill. 

Some facts About Apollo Robbins:

  • He was born in Plainview, Texas.
  • He learned how to do slight of hand from his brothers.
  • His father was blind.
  • He gained popularity when he was able to take the keys to Jimmy Carters motorcade car from his secret service agents.

Who is Penn and Teller?

Both American magicians are icons that have been performing together since 1970.  They are best known for being able to combine comedy and magic together in a show.

Their Las Vegas show, “Penn and Teller: Fool Us” at the Rio is Las Vegas is the longest running show in Las Vegas history.  The shorter magician Teller is known as a silent magician. This means that he uses mime to communicate magic to his audience. He does not speak while he is on stage. 

Some Interesting Facts About Penn and Teller:

  1. They performed their first show together on August 19, 1975.  It was done at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. 
  2. They had an off-Broadway show.
  3. They had a PBS special called Penn & Teller Go Public.
  4. They appeared in a Run-Dmc music video called Its Tricky.
  5. They appeared in television shows with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, The Late-Night |show with Conan O’Brien.
  6. They are also known for exposing how magicians do their tricks. 
  7. They have political views of Libertarians.
  8. They do not believe in the paranormal or pseudoscience. 

As you can see, there are many famous magicians in the world, but these men have stood out above the rest.  They are household names and many people see them as being the best magicians in history. 

When you think of magic, you may see it as being associated with witchcraft, sorcery, and psychics. However, a great majority of magicians to not believe in mediums and often debunk psychics. They often consider the paranormal to be a form of entertainment with nor real facts to back it up. 

Magicians often feel that they have a passion for helping the world through their magic.  They want everyone to know that they can change the world for the better through magic tricks. 

You may or may not be a fan of magic. However, there is no question that what magicians do amazes us. How can we explain a car floating over our heads in an auditorium?  How can you explain how David Copperfield can make a tie dance right before your eyes while he is on stage?  Magicians know how to amaze people by what most of us call impossible. 

We live in a world that needs to feel like we have hope and opportunity for change.  We all want to see the world become a better place.  I hope that you will continue to research magicians and see why you love them as much as we do.

We did not list the magicians in order according to popularity. Instead, we want you to decide on who you think is the best and your favorite. We are living in a day in age where most people say that anything is possible.  Magic is becoming more acceptable forms of entertainment worldwide.  It is probably one of the best forms of wowing audiences.  Even fans of Americas Got Talent seem to favor magicians and even voted for Shin Lim to win the competition.