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What are the BEST Magic Shows (in Dallas) for 2024?

Magician with skull in Dallas Texas

Dallas Texas is a city with a colorful political past and bustling art-scene present, with magic acts that include Wine and Magic, Comedy and Magic Show for All Ages, and Confetti Eddie's Magic Parlour.

It is located in an area once governed by Spain, then by Mexico, followed by the Texians, and then finally in 1845 it became a part of the United States. It is now a major player in the world of business, with more than a handful of billionaires calling Dallas their home. Yesiree it is a bustling city and with its prosperity has come a vibrant arts scene, and one of the nations largest arts districts, located in downtown Dallas. But what about magic you ask? You'll find that Dallas has a variety of regular shows along with the latest shows on tour. So whether you like your magic small and intimate or big and flashy, you'll find just enough of both in Dallas, Texas.

ALL Dallas Magic Shows TODAY

Dallas Texas Magic History

Magic Show Dallas history with Clark Stanley, Magic Land of Alikazam and Houdini
From left to right: Houdini's Texas Tours Book, Magic Land of Allakazam, Clark Stanley Snake Oil Poster

Dallas Texas is big, bold and diverse. A thriving city of many cultures, religions, and interests. First there were railroads which encouraged growth and commerce, with cotton, cattle and oil all becoming big industry and helping Dallas to grow. But before Texas was as a state, it was big, wild and a republic. Thousands of immigrants came to Texas looking for work with those very same railroads, as well as on cotton farms and ranches. Many of those immigrants were Chinese, and they brought with them a product which became the money making ploy of many a medicine show entrepreneur.

I'm talking about snake oil. Snake oil from China actually does have some medicinal properties, being made from a Chinese snake with unusually high levels of omega 3 in its fat. But a clever Texan named Clark Stanley came up with a product he claimed he got from the Hopis, that was of course pure hogwash and contained no snake oil at all. He hawked his "snake oil" product in his traveling medicine show. He claimed it would cure man or beast of almost everything including frostbite, sore throat, bruises and more, with instant relief. Now that would be magic! Snake oil was just one concoction of course that was the moneymaker at a traveling medicine show. Many of the tonics claimed to be miracle cures. The medicine shows themselves were usually run by a con man claiming to be a doctor. The shows were part entertainment and part commercial sales pitch. The idea was to grab people's attention with an entertaining show, and then pitch them on a miracle product that they just had to have. Many of the shows included magic as part of the entertainment or even part of the sales pitch. Of course, the products were mostly inert ingredients or contained alcohol or cocaine in order to create a fake medicinal effect. Many magicians traveled with medicine shows because it was steady work, and many medicine shows were found going town to town in Texas. In fact, the famous blues musician T-Bone Walker was said to have joined a medicine show when "Doc" Breeding came through his Dallas neighborhood selling Big B Tonic.

Right around the time that people started to realize that medicine shows contained more con that cure, magic started to become more popular as a form of entertainment. This was due in large part to one man... Harry Houdini. Houdini seldom toured Texas due to his contract to tour on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit, which had no theatres in Texas. However in 1916 he was hired to tour the Majestic theatre circuit in Texas, and so it was on January 18th in Dallas, he performed a straight jacket escape suspended from the Dallas Morning News building. Houdini did another tour of Texas in 1923 and then returned once more to Dallas in 1924, where he gave a lecture at the famous State Fair. It was during this last visit that he personally signed in the Dallas chapter of the Society of American Magicians. He was at that time the acting president of SAM, and the group was ecstatic to meet with him. The group each performed a trick for the famous magician, and Houdini performed one for them in which he was able to tell them the time set randomly on a pocket watch, after holding the closed watch up to his forehead.

Fast forward to 1955 in Dallas where a local magician named Mark Wilson started a weekly television show called Time for Magic. He had been honing his magic skills while working at the Douglas Magicland shop in Dallas. His show was popular and in 1960 with the advent of videotaping it became a syndicated show called The Magic Land of Allakazam. The show was in black and white and included Mark, his wife Nani Darnell, his son, and Bev Bergeron who played Rebo the Clown. The show was a huge success, playing Saturday mornings on televisions around the country. Mark's vision of magic for television included having a live audience, and long shots that didn't cut from one view to another during a trick. This allowed the at-home audience to feel as if they were also in the live audience. It gave the tricks more authenticity.

But what about the traveling show and the magicians who weren't so much in the limelight. The age-old tradition of reaching the masses by traveling town-to-town, just as the medicine shows had, was not completely dead. One magician, in fact, was well-known and well-loved throughout Texas and Louisiana. He called himself Willard the Wizard but his real name was Harry Willard. He came from a family of magicians all calling themselves Willard the Wizard, including his father and several brothers. And although he never made it into the history books like Houdini he was purported to be one of the best magicians ever, at least among the folks that saw him. At the peak of their performances the show traveled with 17 trucks, setting up its own theatre in each town they visited. Unlike the medicine shows though, they sold nothing but tickets to the show and since their reputation preceded them everywhere they went, they had no trouble selling out their performances. In 1964 the local Dallas IBM ring voted to name their club after Willard the Wizard, and the man himself came and gave one of his last 2 hours shows at the charter celebration. One IBM member who was there stated, "Those who saw the Willard Show will never forget it."

Magic continues to be woven into the fabric of life in the city of Dallas. Traveling illusion shows come and go, selling brochures and t-shirts just as plentiful as snake oil and miracle liniments. Local magicians continue to thrill audiences with regular shows and who knows, maybe some young member of a Dallas magic club will grow up to become the next great magician of his time.

PAST Dallas Texas Magic Shows

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