Society of American Magicians

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The Society of American Magicians (S.A.M.) is the oldest fraternal magic organization in the world. Its purpose is "to advance, elevate, and preserve magic as a performing art, to promote harmonious fellowship throughout the world of magic, and to maintain and improve ethical standards in the field of magic."[1] To promote these endeavors the S.A.M. presents awards and fellowships in recognition of outstanding achievement in the Art of Magic.

Membership in the S.A.M. is open to professional magicians, amateur magicians, youth magicians, magic collectors, magic historians, magic inventors, magic manufacturers and magic dealers. Over 30,000 people worldwide have been members,[1] and currently the S.A.M. has 5,000 members worldwide.[2] The current President of the S.A.M. is Kenrick "ICE" McDonald, while past S.A.M. president George Schindler is the current dean.


Founded on May 10, 1902 in the back room of Martinka's magic shop in New York, the Society expanded under the leadership of Harry Houdini during his term as National President from 1917-1926. Houdini sought to create a large, unified national network of professional and amateur magicians. Wherever he traveled, Houdini would give a lengthy formal address to the local magic club, making speeches, and usually threw a banquet for the members at his own expense. He said "The Magicians Clubs as a rule are small: they are weak...but if we were amalgamated into one big body the society would be stronger, and it would mean making the small clubs powerful and worth while.", and "Members would find a welcome wherever they happened to be and, conversely, the safeguard of a city-to-city hotline to track exposers and other undesirables."

For most of 1916, while on his vaudeville tour, Houdini, at his own expense, had been recruiting local magic clubs to join the SAM in an effort to revitalize what he felt was a weak organization. Houdini persuaded groups in Buffalo, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City join. As had happened in London, Houdini persuaded magicians to join. The Buffalo club joined as the first branch, (later assembly) of the Society. Chicago Assembly No. 3 was, as the name implies, the third regional club to be established by the S.A.M., whose assemblies now number in the hundreds. In 1917, he signed Assembly Number Three's charter, and that charter and this club continue to provide Chicago magicians with a connection to each other and to their past. Houdini dined with, addressed, and got pledges from similar clubs in Detroit, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cincinnati and elsewhere. This was the biggest movement ever in the history of magic. In places where no clubs existed, he rounded up individual magicians, introduced them to each other, and urged them into the fold. By the end of 1916, magicians' clubs in San Francisco and other cities that Houdini had not visited were offering to become assemblies. He had created the richest and longest surviving organization of magicians in the world.

The SAM now embraces over 5,000 members and almost 300 assemblies worldwide. In July, 1926, Houdini was elected for the ninth successive time President of the Society of American Magicians. Every other president has only served for one year. He also was President of the Magicians' Club of London.[3]

Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame and Magic Museum, Los Angeles, CA[4][5] closed temporarily due to fire, contamination, and resultant litigation. After its disastrous fire, the museum's artifacts went on exhibit at the Whittier Museum for six months beginning in September 2012.[6]

The organization pays tribute to Harry Houdini, with a broken wand ceremony on the anniversary of his death (by the Jewish calendar)[7] at his grave in Machpelah Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens, New York City.[8]

Past Presidents[edit]

1902-05 W. Golden Mortimer
1905-06 John W. Sargent
1906-08 Francis J. Werner
1908-09 Oscar S. Teale
1909-10 William A. Ransom
1910-11 Elmer P. Ransom
1911-12 Charles Roltare
1912-14 Henry Hatton
1914-15 Lionel M. Homburger
1915-17 Richard Van Dien
1917-26 Harry Houdini
1926-27 Bernard M. L. Ernst
1927-29 Howard Thurston
1929-30 Theodore Hardeen
1930-31 James C. Wobensmith
1931-32 Werner F. Dornfield
1932-33 Bertram E. Adams
1933-34 William H. McCaffrey
1934-35 William R. Walsh
1935-36 Julien J. Proskauer
1936-37 Irving R. Calkins, M.D.
1937-38 Theodore T. Golden
1938-39 Nate Leipzig
1939-40 Eugene Bernstein
1940-41 H. Adrian Smith
1941-42 Richard Cardini
1942-43 Herman Hanson
1943-44 John B. Handy
1944-45 Warren E. Simms
1945-46 Raymond F. Muse
1946-47 Bert Allerton
1947-48 Charles C. Slayton
1948-49 John McArdle
1949-50 Dr. Harlan Tarbell
1950-51 Richard DuBois
1951-52 Austin C. Gorham
1952-53 Leslie P. Guest
1953-55 William R. Greenough
1956-57 Charles O. Schoke
1957-58 Milbourne Christopher
1958-59 Hugh R. Riley
1955-56 Lloyd E. Jones
1959-60 Thomas K. Hawbecker
1960-61 William J. McCarthy
1961-62 Neil C. Doren, M.D.
1962-63 George E. Mueller, M.D.
1963-64 Edward Schneider
1964-65 J. Ronald Haines
1965-66 James C. Johnson, M.D.
1966-67 John U. Zweers
1967-68 Vynn Boyar
1968-69 Edward A. Schuman
1969-70 Forrest F. Sample
1970-71 Bradley M. Jacobs
1971-72 J. Gary Bontjes
1972-73 Edward E. Mishell
1973-74 Richard L. Gustafson
1974-75 William P. Dunbaugh
1975-76 Dr. Roy Kupsinel
1976-77 Charles W. Brigham
1977-78 Donald E. Lea
1978-79 Roy A. Snyder
1979-80 Bruce Fletcher
1980-81 James Zachary
1981-82 Henry Moorehouse
1982-83 Herb Downs
1983-84 Frank W. Dailey
1984-85 Raymond M. Corbin
1985-86 Cesareo R. Pelaez
1986-87 David R. Goodsell
1987-88 William E. Andrews
1988-89 Robert A. Steiner
1989-90 Fr. Cyprian Murray, OFM, Cap.
1990-91 Margaret Dailey
1991-92 Michael D. Douglass
1992-93 George Schindler
1993-94 Dan Rodriguez
1994-95 Dan Garrett
1995-96 Don Oltz
1996-97 Craig Dickson
1997-98 Loren Lind
1998-99 Gary Hughes
1999-2000 Harry Monti
2000-2001 Jann Goodsell
2001-2002 Warren Kaps
2002-2003 Ed Thomas
2003-2004 Jay Gorham
2004-2005 John W. Apperson
2005-2006 Rich Dooley
2006-2007 Andy Dallas
2007-2008 Maria Ibanez
2008-2009 Bruce Kalver
2009-2010 Mike Miller
2010-2011 Mark Weidhaas
2011-2012 Vinny Grosso
2012-2013 Christopher Bontjes
2013-2014 Dal Sanders
2014-2015 Kenrick "Ice" McDonald[9]

The Society of Young Magicians[edit]

The Society of Young Magicians (SYM) is an organization devoted to assisting magicians, age seven through seventeen years. The Society of Young Magicians has clubs, known as "assemblies" located throughout the world; these assemblies are commonly jointly associated with an adult SAM assembly. When a member turns 18, they graduate to full membership in the Society of American Magicians.

The purpose of the Society of Young Magicians is to promote interest in magic as a hobby that develops skill and self-confidence, the ability to speak in public, discipline that comes from learning, practicing and performing magic and a sense of service to others through helping others learn magic and by performing magic at charitable events.

The Society of Young Magicians has nearly 100 local chapters, or assemblies, around the world. Adult members of the Society of American Magicians supervise and instruct members of the SYM.

Jann Goodsell is the SYM National Director. SYM's principal means of communication among its members is its e-zine, "The Magic SYMbol."


The S.A.M. national convention is held annually, usually over the Fourth of July weekend.[10]


  • M-U-M, is a monthly print magazine published by S.A.M. M-U-M stands for Magic, Unity, Might, a slogan of the S.A.M.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About the Society of American Magicians". Society of American Magicians. 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-05. 
  2. ^ Rodriguez, Manon. "National Administrator's Report". Society of American Magicians. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Kenneth Silverman (October 1997). Houdini! The Career of Ehrich Weiss: American Self-Liberator, Europe's Eclipsing Sensation, World's Handcuff King & Prison Breaker. HarperCollins. p. 544. ASIN 006092862X. 
  4. ^ "Society of American Magicians Magic Museum.". 
  5. ^ "SAM Museum seeks benefactor". 2006-12-12. 
  6. ^ Perovich, Michael (September 16, 2012). "S.A.M. Hall Of Fame And Magic Museum Returns". Magic New Zealand. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  7. ^ News from the Society of American Magicians
  8. ^ "Harry Houdini (1874 - 1926) - Find A Grave Memorial". 
  9. ^
  10. ^

External links[edit]