Magic as a discipline has developed over centuries of stage and close-up magicians practising, inventing, and refining their acts. The world’s most famous magic tricks were born from the entrepreneurialism and innovation of these magicians and have been developed on and refined by future magicians themselves! Here are a few of the most famous tricks and acts the magic world has delivered!
Levitation is a classic trick that has taken many forms. The most iconic versions of the trick usually involve the magician levitating an assistant who is suspended horizontally in the air covered by a sheet. The sheet, of course, is also covering the supports used to prop up the weight of the assistant! Variations of this trick are often used in street acts where the magician appears to be levitating and has only one hand or a walking stick touching the ground, which attaches to supports inside the magician’s clothes.
The death saw is another iconic trick that involves the use of an assistant and comes in multiple varieties. A classic variation of this trick sees a woman sawn in half in a box and the halves separated for the audience to see, while another features a slowly descending blade swinging back and forth as a magician ‘fails’ to free himself below. All rely on illusion to make it seem as though the performer has been sawn in half when, in reality, the lower half of their body remains safely tucked away in a hidden compartment.
The Water Tank Escape
The water tank escape was first introduced by Harry Houdini and has seen countless variations, even from the man himself, who has performed this trick with milk cans, coffins submerged underwater, and his famous Chinese Water Torture Cell. In his most iconic version of the trick, which he kept as part of his act from its invention in 1911 to his death in 1926, he was suspended upside down in the tank, submerged completely in water, and restrained in shackles and a strait jacket. It took him more than 3 minutes underwater to free himself! This trick has been performed by many greats, including David Blaine, who spent a week submerged in a fishbowl and attempted to hold his breath for more than 9 minutes to stage his underwater escape in his grand finale.