10 of the most famous magicians the world has ever seen

For centuries people have marveled at magic (no, not Harry Potter magic but real magicians). Ever since the ancient Egyptian magician Dedi (who many believe to be fictional) performed the first trick of bilboquet in 2700 BC, people have been in awe of magic. The Romans quickly took over the profession as it slowly spread across the world. It was in the 18th century that magic really became popular and magicians performed for money. They were the first famous magicians to make a successful career of wowing audiences.

Nowadays magic is well known all over the world. Whether it’s a simple card trick or a complicated illusion involving the disappearance of a world landmark, the general public is fascinated by what magicians can accomplish. Famous magicians continue to ply their trade, deceiving and shocking the public with their incredible feats.

During this period, there have been amazing and famous magicians who have also become popular in their own right. These masters of illusion have had a long, long career, confusing audiences with their tricks. From legends of old to modern stars, here are 10 of the most famous magicians the world has ever seen.

10 of the most famous magicians the world has ever seen

1.Harry Houdini

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One of the most recognized illusionists and magicians to ever do this was the great Harry Houdini. While he was more of an escape artist, Houdini had a bunch of tricks up his sleeves. Some of the Hungarian-American’s most notable tricks included escaping from straight jackets and handcuffs, being buried alive and surfacing, and escaping from a sealed crate that had been descended into the East River in New York while wearing chains.

In addition to magic, Houdini acted in several films and was an avid aviator. He was also very committed to upholding the magician’s code and often confronted psychics and spiritualists and called them out as imposters.

Harry Houdini’s long career came to an unfortunate end after he was repeatedly punched in the stomach by Jocelyn Gordon Whitehead. Trying to prove a point, Whitehead hit Houdini when he wasn’t ready. The beatings are thought to have caused appendicitis. Later that night after his magic show, Houdini fell ill and was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with appendicitis. He died soon after at the age of 52.

2. David Copperfield

David Copperfield


David Copperfield is arguably the most famous magician and illusionist of modern times. He is responsible for some of the greatest tricks ever, specializing in illusions. He’s the man who made the Statue of Liberty disappear, escaped from Alcatraz prison and also walked through the Great Wall of China. Crazy stuff.

David Copperfield holds a staggering 11 Guinness World Records, has won 21 Emmy Awards for his TV magic shows and is among the 20 highest earning solo artists in the world. He has performed all over the world and has a permanent home at MGM Grand Las Vegas where he dazzles audiences daily.

3.Howard Thurston

Howard Thurston


American magician Howard Thurston got into magic after running away and joining the circus when he was young. Impressed by what he saw, Thurston sought out the magician Alexander Herrmann to teach him everything he knew. Thurston became famous for his card tricks, one of his most famous involving the magician asking the spectators to choose cards from a deck of cards. The deck was then shuffled and placed in a clear glass. Thurston would then call out the cards each audience member had chosen and they would rise to the top of the deck one by one.

Thurston was also famous for his “Levitation of Princess Karnac” illusion, in which he floated a lady in the air. He often performed with another magician, Harry Kellar, and continued to amaze audiences until his death in 1936.

4. Penn & Teller


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If you like a few laughs with your magic, these are the guys for you. Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller, under the stage name Penn & Teller, have been entertaining audiences since the 70s. Starting life as a trio with fellow magician Wier Chrisemer, they soon found themselves a duo after Chrisemer left the company in 1981. Since then, the two have not looked back.

The two are very different, with Penn a loudmouth character and Teller a nearly silent accomplice. They’ve performed all sorts of tricks over the years, but specialize in sleight of hand and card tricks, always laced with humor. Penn & Teller are also known for breaking down how a trick works after performing it, to continue the trick in a more elaborate and amazing way.

The duo have written numerous books and starred in countless television specials, with Penn & Teller: fool us still going strong in its eighth season. They still perform regularly and, like all good magicians, have a show in Las Vegas at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.

5. David Blaine

David Blain

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David Blaine is an interesting guy who also happens to be a famous magician. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Blaine is very low key when it comes to his performances, preferring to let his tricks do the talking. And does the boy impress with the magic he creates.

Blaine is responsible for some incredibly dangerous tricks that carry great risk. He was buried alive, trapped in a frozen grave for nearly three days, and even captured a bullet with his teeth. But his most infamous stunt involved living in a plexiglass box suspended 30 meters above the ground for over a month.

A webcam was installed in the box so people could watch live while anyone passing by the south bank of the Thames in London could get a view of the waterfall. Blaine was on the verge of starvation when he emerged from the box, with the magician only allowed to drink 1.2 gallons of water a day.

David Blaine begins his first-ever Las Vegas residency in September, where he’s sure to stun audiences on a regular basis.

6. Criss Angel


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American illusionist Criss Angel is best known for his television and stage show Criss Angel Mindfreak. The reality series shows Angel performing magic tricks on the street as well as large sets where he showcases his skills as an illusionist. Angel is a little more of a rockstar than a magician, with his live performances featuring dancers, loud music, and great crowd participation.

While his cocky personality and love of the spotlight isn’t for everyone, there’s no doubt that Angel is one of the greatest. Even the International Magicians Society thinks he’s the real deal, awarding Angel the Magician of the Century in 2010.

Angel does everything from simple card tricks and vanishing acts to spontaneous combustion, walk on water, and cutting himself in half in front of his audience. Her magic is certainly not for the faint-hearted, with many of her magic tricks bordering on horror shows, but that’s part of Criss Angel’s appeal.

7. Derren Brown

Derren Brown

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Originally from London, Derren Brown is an illusionist and mentalist who has been performing for three decades. Similar to Houdini, Brown is not a fan of psychics and those who claim to have special powers. He often uses his magic to expose these types of people, suggesting that he uses “magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship” to seduce his audience.

Brown first caught people’s attention with his 2000 show Derren Brown: Mind Control. Over the next decade, he starred in ten different television series and several specials. While he hasn’t been on TV for several years (his last special was Sacrifice for Netflix in 2018), he continues to run his show on stage around the world.

It hasn’t all been easy for Brown, with many of his modern magic tricks creating controversy. Two, in particular, Russian roulette and Session, received numerous complaints and were deemed to be in bad taste by many. That didn’t stop Brown from continuing to push the boundaries of the magical arts.

8.Lance Burton

Lance Burton

MDA Telethon/YouTube

Famed magician Lance Burton is now retired, but throughout his distinguished career he has been one of the game’s most respected magicians. Burton got into magic when he was five years old and quickly decided that was what he wanted to do as an adult. First to perform for his neighbors, established magician Harry Collins took Burton under his wing and mentored him.

It wasn’t long before Burton was running his own show and performing on The show tonight with Johnny Carson. He was offered a short-term residency in Las Vegas which turned into a nine-year contract. Throughout the ’80s, Burton was a mainstay on television screens, appearing in his own specials and countless other programs.

Well-respected by the magician fraternity (he was twice voted “Magician of the Year” by the Academy of Magical Arts), Burton performed more than 15,000 shows in Las Vegas before finally laying down his wand in 2010. .

9. Jen Kramer

Jen Kramer

TEDx/YouTube talks

When most people think of famous magicians, names like Houdini, Copperfield, Ricky Jay or Doug Henning come to mind. It’s not often a female magician that comes to mind. Well, that shouldn’t be the case anymore with women like Jen Kramer strutting around. An accomplished magician named “Magician of the Year” by the International Magicians Society, Kramer is one of the unsung heroines of the profession.

Her Las Vegas show at the Westgate Resort & Casino is a thrilling experience where Kramer wows with her mind-blowing magic, whether she turns a $1 bill into a $100 bill or keeps you guessing with her array of card tricks .

10. Paul Daniels

Paul Daniel


If you’re British, you’ll know all about Paul Daniels. The much-loved magician was the presenter and star of the hit BBC series The Paul Daniels Magic Show. The show was so popular that it ran from 1979 to 1994. Its famous catchphrase is remembered, “You’ll like it…not much, but you’ll like it!” Daniels was the first magician outside the United States to win the coveted “Magician of the Year” award from the Academy of Magical Arts in 1982.

Paul Daniels had one of the most successful magical careers of any magician in the past 50 years. Affectionately known as “The Godfather of Magic”, Daniels was a brilliant showman whose magic ranged from standard card tricks to more extravagant illusions, such as escaping heavy chains.

After falling from a ladder, Daniels was discovered to have a brain tumor and died a month later at the age of 77, leaving behind a lifelong legacy.

Brian L. Hartfield