Chan Canasta

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Chan Canasta (born Chananel Mifelew, 9 January 1920 – 22 April 1999) was a pioneer of mental magic in the 1950s and '60s. Born in Kraków, Poland, he was the son of a Polish-Jewish educator. Most of his family perished in the Holocaust.

Stage career[edit]

Canasta moved to Great Britain in 1947, following a stint in the Royal Air Force during World War II.

Starting as a card magician who took his surname from the popular card game of canasta, he became a well known stage magician performing feats of memory and book tests during the late 1940s.

Television career[edit]

In 1951 Canasta recorded his first television show for the BBC - a sparse affair with only a few props that concentrated on mental effects.

Throughout his career Canasta made over 350 television appearances, including on the American Ed Sullivan, Arlene Francis and Jack Paar shows.

His final TV appearance was in 1971, on the BBC's Parkinson show, and was billed as "The Return of Chan Canasta," for he had left television performing behind several years earlier.[citation needed]

Art career[edit]

Canasta retired from the stage at the height of his fame to pursue his true dream, that of being a serious painter. In his later years he established a second career as an artist, with successful gallery shows in London and New York.[citation needed]


Among magicians, Canasta is revered for the invention of a principle that eschewed perfection, believing that making an occasional error made his other effects stronger and more entertaining. British mentalist Derren Brown cites Canasta as a prime influence.


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