Channing Pollock (magician)
August 16, 1926
Sacramento, California, U.S.A.
|Died||March 18, 2006 (aged 79)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.
|Cause of death||Brain tumor|
Pollock was recognized as one of the most sophisticated and charismatic practitioners of his craft. Strikingly handsome with an enigmatic stage presence, he was best known for an act in which he would elegantly produce doves out of thin air, and he was often billed as "the most beautiful man in the world". He first became interested in magic at the age of 21. He trained at the Chavez School of Magic in Los Angeles, graduating in 1952. Pollock's early work as a magician was on the nightclub circuit, where his talents were enhanced by his good looks.
He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1954, and went on to make several appearances at the London Palladium. By the mid-1950s Pollock was unsurpassed in his field, and he had spawned a great many imitators. But his act was unique, and the excitement in his routine was so tied up with his own personality (he always made a point of never smiling until he was taking his final bow) that copyists never had quite the same impact.
He appeared at cabaret venues and in special shows all over the world, performing for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Queen Elizabeth II and at the wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly. At the height of his career he was one of America's highest-paid entertainers.
In 1959 his act was seen in the film European Nights, and the following year he decided to give up his career as a magician to become an actor. He appeared in a number of thrillers and dramas, including Musketeers of the Sea (1962), with Aldo Ray and Pier Angeli; Sceicco rosso (1962); Rocambole (1963); and Georges Franju's Judex (1963), in which he played the romantic lead. According to Jacques Champreux, grandson of Louis Feuillade and co-scenarist of the film, he was being touted as a possible new Rudolph Valentino. Nothing came of it. He also appeared on several American variety shows such as Bonanza, Daniel Boone, and The Beverly Hillbillies.
In 1971 he abandoned show business entirely, and he and his wife set up an organic farm at Moss Beach, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He continued, however, to act as a friend and mentor to many aspiring magicians. He gave his own act, including his birds, to his chauffeur in London, Frank Brooker, who went on performing the act for several years under the name of Franklyn.
He was the son of Robert Burns Pollock and Marjorie Leppert. His first marriage, to Naomi Phelps, produced one son, Russell. His second marriage was to Jozy, a woman born in England.