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Max Malini (born Max Katz Breit, 1873 – died October 3, 1942) was a Jewish illusionist who at his peak performed for several US Presidents, had command performances at Buckingham Palace, and received gifts from monarchs across Europe and Asia. Magicians are said to revere him for his skill and bold accomplishments.
Malini's performance style was marked by great audacity. For instance, he would often walk up to people of great celebrity and, unannounced, simply bite a button from their cuffs and magically restore it. He would also borrow a gentleman's hat for a coin effect, where he would cover the coin and attempt to make it flip over. This he would fail to do, but would finish by lifting the hat to reveal a block of ice under the hat, barely large enough to fit.
Max Malini was born in the small town of Ostrov on the borders of Poland and Austria. At a young age, he emigrated to the US with his family, settling in New York City. He studied juggling at age twelve, but under the tutelage of Professor Seiden he began his studies of magic when he was fifteen. As he grew older, he began performing in bars. As his reputation grew, he would sell tickets to see a private show in his hotel room. He specialized in close-up magic, performing with coins and card magic.
He died in Honolulu, Hawaii on October 3, 1942. He had been in poor health for some time and his last performances were done sitting in a chair.