The Magic Castle
|The Magic Castle®|
The Magic Castle
|Location||7001 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood|
The Magic Castle®, located at 7001 Franklin Avenue in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, California, is a nightclub for magicians and magic enthusiasts, as well as the clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts. It bills itself as "the most unusual private club in the world."
The Magic Castle® is a performance venue, restaurant and private club. A typical evening features several magic and sometimes variety arts performances, as well as a full service dining room and several bars in a nightclub atmosphere. A dress code of formal party attire is strictly enforced. Entry is only allowed to members and their guests, although the low cost "Open Sesame" 30-day trial membership is openly offered to the general public, with the resulting savings in door charges often being sufficient to cover the membership fee.
The lobby of the Castle has no visible doors to the interior, and visitors must say a secret phrase to a sculpture of an owl to gain access, exposing the entrance to the club. Nightly, five different magic performances are showcased in three different theaters, with additional performances added in the Peller as well as Hat and Hare Pub and W.C. Fields Bar on weekends. Magicians perform in several different theaters, including the intimate Close-Up Gallery, a larger Parlour of Prestidigitation, and stage illusions in the Palace of Mystery. Informal performance areas near the five bars give magician members the space for impromptu magic for guests and other patrons. In the music room, a piano is played by invisible "Irma," the Castle's "resident ghost," who takes musical requests.
In addition, magician Misty Lee, the first female staff medium at the Magic Castle®, regularly performs Houdini Séances at the castle.
Those under 21 years of age are not permitted during evening performances. However, on Saturdays and Sundays, the Castle hosts an "all-ages" brunch and performances which are open to members and their guests, including those under the age of 21. During brunch, the Castle's "Junior Members" (ranging in age from 13 to 20 years old) perform in the Close-Up Gallery.
Magic Castle® Junior Group
The Magic Castle® is also known for its Junior Program (the Magic Castle Junior Group). The Junior Group comprises highly skilled young magicians, many of whom have gone on to professional careers in magic. One week a year, billed as "Future Stars Week," performers from the Junior Group are showcased in evening performances in the Castle's showrooms.
Academy of Magical Arts
|Academy of Magical Arts|
|Headquarters||The Magic Castle® in Hollywood, California|
|President||Neil Patrick Harris|
The Academy of Magical Arts is a non profit mutual benefit corporation organized and devoted to the promotion and development of the art of magic.
Although begun in 1952 as a loose association of magicians by William Larsen, Sr. the Academy was incorporated and its organization formalized in 1962 by his son, William Larsen, Jr., who together with Milt Larsen, another son of William Larsen, Sr., built the Academy into an international organization whose headquarters has been the Magic Castle® since 1963.
The Academy of Magical Arts was created by William Larsen and announced in the April, 1952 issue of his independent magazine of magic, Genii; of which all the subscribers were automatically accorded membership. "Academy Awards" were presented by Larsen over the next several months for outstanding contributions in various areas of the magic arts. William Larsen, Sr. died at the age of 48 in July, 1953. His wife and eldest son, Bill Jr. continued the publication of the magazine but the "Academy" lacked any formal structure and the organization became dormant. In 1962 William Larsen's younger son, Milt, undertook the job of leasing and restoring an ornately styled, 1909 mansion in Hollywood, California and turning it into a meeting place for magicians which he called the "Magic Castle®." As part of their plan to revive the Academy and locate it in the "Magic Castle®" William Larsen, Jr. filed articles of incorporation and created a nonprofit corporation, in 1962. The Magic Castle opened its doors on January 2, 1963 as the home of the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc. From an initial membership of 50, the Academy has grown to a worldwide membership of over 5,000 today. The name "Magic Castle®" is a U.S. federally registered trademark.
Becoming a member
There are nearly 2,500 magician members in the Academy today. To become a regular member one must first be actively practicing or involved with magic as a career or hobby and audition before the Academy’s membership reviewing committee. Associate members are people who love magic and the academy. Most of the members are in the entertainment business, law, finance, and medical fields. Some of these associate members are friends of magician members who enjoy the atmosphere of the Academy. Associate Member applications must be approved by the Board of Directors. Honorary members and VIP members are presented by the Board of Directors to magicians, celebrities and individual members of the Academy who have contributed to the advancement of the art of magic. It is also possible to become a junior magician if you are between the age of 13 and 20. Membership in the Junior Group is open to anyone seriously interested in magic and is from 13 to 19 years of age. One may apply if 20 years old, but must be able to be a member in the Group for one full year. These junior magicians are only allowed the limited use of facilities. You must be a talented magician to get accepted through audition.
Taking a class
To take a class at the Academy of Magic you do not have to become a member. The Basic Magic class is designed to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to perform basic magic. The class combines instructor presentation, step-by-step explanation, hands-on instruction, group practice sessions and individual performance. Classes are held one night per week for six weeks, from 7:45PM to 9:45PM. During the six weeks the students shall receive a temporary six week pass that will grant the privileges of a regular member excluding magician member's lectures. They are allowed to bring four friends to stay at the castle but not to the classes. Men must wear a coat and tie and women must wear a dress or skirt, no casual wear is permitted.
History of The Magic Castle®
The building is a Chateau-style or Chateauesque mansion built in 1909 by banker, real estate developer and philanthropist, Rollin B. Lane. The house was designed by architects Lyman Farwell and Oliver Dennis and constructed as a near duplicate of the 1897 Kimberly Crest House and Gardens in Redlands, California that the architects had designed over a decade earlier. Ownership of the mansion remained in the Lane family until 1955 when it was sold to Thomas O. Glover, whose family still owns the property. In September 1961, the mansion was leased to Milt Larsen and Bill Larsen, Jr., who began converting it to its present state. The Magic Castle opened for business on January 2, 1963. Over the years several additions have been made to the original structure, allowing for the inclusion of several theaters, bars, a library and other meeting spaces. The Magic Castle® was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1989.
One of the Castle's most famous members was the late Dai Vernon, an expert in sleight of hand, who often sat in the bar area entertaining and teaching. Vernon was the Magician-in-Residence at the Castle for many years, up until his death in 1992.
Other famous magicians who have been regular performers at the Magic Castle include Mark Wilson, Jay Ose, Senator Crandall, Johnny Platt, Kuda Bux, and Billy McComb. Many "celebrity magic hobbyists" have also performed at the Magic Castle, including Cary Grant, Steve Martin, Johnny Carson, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Alexander of Seinfeld.
On October 31, 2011, the Magic Castle® suffered damage from a fire that broke out in the attic. Significant interior refurbishing was necessary as a result of extensive water damage caused by fighting the fire. The Magic Castle was reopened in its entirety in February 2012.
Performing awards are given in different categories at the annual "Academy of the Magical Arts Awards" event. Nominees for the performing awards are chosen from among that year's performers at The Magic Castle®.
Other awards include Literary and Life Fellowships awards which go to individuals who, in the view of the Academy, have made significant contributions to the field of magic.
Each year the Academy of Magical Arts awards:
- Stage Magician of the Year
- Parlour Magician of the Year
- Close-Up Magician of the Year
- Lecturer of the Year
The Academy of Magical Arts also presents:
- Master's Fellowship
- Performing Fellowship in Close-Up Magic
- Performing Fellowship in Stage Magic
- Creative Fellowship
- Literary Fellowship
- Junior Achievement Award
Events, television and movies
- The annual Soapy Smith night, in honor of the famed confidence man, takes place July 8. Proceeds go to the Dai Vernon Fund.
- Nickelodeon's Halloween special, Mystery Magical Special was filmed here in 1986.
- Fox's Halloween television special Count DeClues' Mystery Castle with Max Maven as the title role was shot here in 1992.
- Portions of the 1995 horror film Lord of Illusions were set in the Magic Castle®.
- TV promos were hosted at the Magic Castle on the Disney Channel for the premiere of the 2005 Disney Channel Original Movie, Now You See It....
- Duran Duran held their famous 1984 press conference here for their American Sing Blue Silver Tour.
- The Monk episode, Mr. Monk and the Magician was shot on location in the Magic Castle®, where actor and magician Steve Valentine was filmed in the theater's auditorium with Jarrad Paul and Tony Shaloub, using his talents in the role of the evil Magician Karl Torini, whom, after murdering a friend of Adrian Monk's, became a formidable adversary to the detective in the episode's plotline.
- Neil Patrick Harris commissioned a Harry Houdini aquarium to have installed at the Magic Castle® in 2012. The aquarium was built by the team from the TV show Tanked. Clips from the show Tanked featuring the Magic Castle's aquarium.
- Department of City Planning. "Designated Historic-Cultural Monuments". City of Los Angeles. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "Magic Castle After Dark," December 16, 2006 documentary on A&E Network
- Cohen, Sandy. "Neil Patrick Harris: Actor, Emmy host, leader of Hollywood’s Magic Castle". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2013-09-24.
- "Castle casts spell on Larsen clan; Founder tells his and club's history". Daily Variety. September 14, 2006. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
- "Magic at the Castle this weekend". Redlands Daily Facts. July 1, 2004. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
- McGrew and Julian, ‘’Landmarks of Los Angeles’’, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., NY, 1994 p. 144-145
- Johnson, Karl (2005). The Magician and the Cardsharp. pp. (p. 282). "He was cremated, and after the box with his ashes was brought to the Magic Castle, it was placed for display on a ledge at the top of a wall filled with photos and other memorabilia from his long life in magic. The ledge was so high that the box was almost out of sight."
- Los Angeles Times, After fire, Magic Castle hopes to reopen Friday
- The Magic Castle web site
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- Academy of Magical Arts web page
- See more about Magic_Castle at MagicPedia, the free online Magic encyclopedia.