The Magic Castle

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The Magic Castle
The Magic Castle
Location 7001 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood
Coordinates 34°6′16.7″N 118°20′30.5″W / 34.104639°N 118.341806°W / 34.104639; -118.341806Coordinates: 34°6′16.7″N 118°20′30.5″W / 34.104639°N 118.341806°W / 34.104639; -118.341806
Built 1908
Architectural style(s) Chateauesque
Designated 1989[1]
Reference no. 406[1]
The Magic Castle is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
The Magic Castle
Location of The Magic Castle in the Los Angeles metropolitan area

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."

Country Club of Magic[edit]

Magic Castle entrance

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 country club atmosphere. A dress code of formal party attire is strictly enforced.[2] Entry is only allowed to members and their guests.

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. Magicians perform in several different theaters, including the intimate Close-up Gallery, a larger Parlour of Prestidigitation, and the large stage in the Palace of Mystery. Nightly, five different magic performances are showcased in these three different theaters, and on weekends additional performances are added in the Peller theatre as well as Hat and Hare Pub and W.C. Fields Bar. 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, there are regular Houdini Séances at the castle in the Houdini Seance room, conducted by Leo Kostka, Rob Zabrecky, or Misty Lee.

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[edit]

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.


The principal building of the Magic Castle is a Chateau-style or Chateauesque residence built in 1909 by banker, real estate developer and philanthropist, Rollin B. Lane. The house was designed by architects Lyman Farwell and Oliver Dennis[3] 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 building 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 building was leased to Milt Larsen, Bill Larsen., and Irene Larsen, who began converting it to its present state. The Magic Castle opened for business on January 2, 1963.[4] 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.[1]

One of the Castle's most famous performers 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.[5]

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[6] 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.

Academy of Magical Arts[edit]

Academy of Magical Arts
Formation 1962
Type Non-profit
Headquarters The Magic Castle in Hollywood, California
Randy Sinnott

The Academy of Magical Arts is a nonprofit 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.[7]


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 his 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.


There are nearly 2,500 magician members in the Academy today[citation needed]. 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 who 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[citation needed]. These junior magicians are only allowed limited use of the facilities. You must be a talented magician to get accepted through audition[citation needed].


The Academy of Magic offers classes that are available to the public. The Basic Magic class is designed to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to perform basic magic.[8] 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 7:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. During the six weeks, the students receive a temporary six week pass that grants 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.


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.

These are the awards given by the Academy of Magical Arts:

  • Magician of the Year (1968; 1970–present)
  • Stage Magician of the Year (1968–present)
  • Close-Up Magician of the Year (1968–present)
  • Lecturer of the Year (1968–present)
  • Award of Merit (1968; 1970–1990; 1992–2004; 2006–2007; 2009–2011; 2013)
  • Creative Fellowship (1968–present)
  • Literary Fellowship (1968–2012)
  • Masters Fellowship (1968–present)
  • Performing Fellowship (1968–present)
  • Special Fellowship (1968; 1970–1984; 1986–2010; 2012–2013)
  • Junior Achievement Award (1976–1982; 1984–1986; 1989–1990; 1992; 1995–2011; 2013)
  • Parlour Magician of the Year (1983–present)
  • Lifetime Achievement Fellowship (1985–2009)
  • Comedy Magician of the Year (2003–2006)
  • Bar Magician of the Year (2004–2005)
  • Special Award for Technical Achievement (2006)

One of the five winners of the 1974 Award of Merit is The Magic Castle itself.

List of award winners[edit]

Magician of the Year[edit]

Stage Magician of the Year[edit]

Close-Up Magician of the Year[edit]

Lecturer of the Year[edit]

Award of Merit[edit]

Year Winner
1968 Milt Larsen
1970 Mattel Corporation
Lou Derman
John Gaughan
Bill Groom
Peter Pit
John Shrum
Eleanor St. Germain
1971 Siegfried & Roy
George Boston
1972 Bob McAllister
1973 Bob Barker
Bill Bixby
Charles Reynolds
1974 Ken Brooke
James G. Williams
The Magic Castle
Jerry Rosen
Henk Vermeyden
1975 Shirley Carroll
Johnny Carson
Danny Dew
Doug Henning
Charles Reynolds & Regina Reynolds
1976 Jerry Blount
David Copperfield
Lewis P. Horwitz
Century III Programs, Inc. Jack Rhodes, Wendell Wilks, Stanley Dorfman
1977 Ralph Edwards
Pat Hennessy Jr.
Peter Kersten
1978 Dick Cavett
Dick Clark
Armand Grant
Ted Salter
1979 Robert Albo
Ernie Evans
Ken & Roberta Griffin
Dale Harney
Don Wayne
1980 John Davison
Christian Fechner
Sammy McKay
Diana Zimmerman
1981 Paul Daniels
1982 Robert & Elaine Lund
Peter Pit
Jamal Rofeh
1983 Fred Anderson
Eric Elkaim
John Fisher
1984 Bill Cosko
Ton Onosaka
Manfred Thumm
1985 Mark Nelson
Jim Steinmeyer
Dick Zimmerman
1986 Lynette Chappell
John "Kaz" Kasnetsis
Jeff Semel
Richard M. Sherman
1987 Bob Dorian
Benjamin Garth
Ray Pierce
1988 Mike Elkan
Margaret Hennessy
Hugh Rappaport
1989 James Starr
1990 Dale Salwak
1992 Stan Allen
Sandy Edberg
1993 Dick Foster
1994 Egil "Egelo" Berg
Luis de Matos
Merv Griffin
1995 Dream Team Gary Ouellet, Gary Pudney, Bob Jaffe
1996 Bill Bowers
Arnold Brema
Triny Peller
John Zweers
1997 Bob Busch
Joan Lawton
Rick Marcelli
1998 Gordon Bean
Robert Carver
Donna Chapman
Mike Elkan
Michael Flint
Joe Hoffman
Ron Jackson
Mike Lacey
Robert Parker
1999 George Juarez
James G. Williams
Fred & Wanda Wood
2000 Jean Boyle
Ray Forgette
Clark James
Carol Marie
Mark Nelson
Scott Tokar
John Zweers
2001 Gary Frank
Terry Hill
Amazing Johnathan
Francis B. Martineau
David Thorsen
2002 Scott Smith
2003 Aldo Colombini
2004 David McKenzie
2006 Alan Rosson
2007 Rich Cowley
Paul Gross
2009 Obie O'Brien
2010 William Scott Anderson
2011 Ira Goldstein
The Skirball Cultural Center
The Los Angeles Fire Department
2013 Neil Patrick Harris

Najee Williams

2014 Randy Pitchford
Alan Watson
2015 Erika Larsen

Creative Fellowship[edit]

Literary Fellowship[edit]

Masters Fellowship[edit]

Performing Fellowship[edit]

Special Fellowship[edit]

Junior Achievement Award[edit]

Parlour Magician of the Year[edit]

Lifetime Achievement Fellowship[edit]

Comedy Magician of the Year[edit]

Year Winner
2003 Dana Daniels
2004 Michael Finney
2005 Ed Alonzo
2006 Ed Alonzo

Bar Magician of the Year[edit]

Year Winner
2004 Doc Eason
2005 Whit Haydn

Special Award for Technical Achievement[edit]

Year Winner
2006 Bryan Lee

Events, television and movies[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Department of City Planning. "Designated Historic-Cultural Monuments". City of Los Angeles. Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  2. ^ "Magic Castle After Dark," December 16, 2006 documentary on A&E Network
  3. ^ McGrew and Julian, Landmarks of Los Angeles, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., NY, 1994 pp. 144–145
  4. ^ "About". The Magic Castle. 
  5. ^ Johnson, Karl (2005). The Magician and the Cardsharp. 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. 
  6. ^ Blankstein, Andrew (November 1, 2011). "After fire, Magic Castle hopes to reopen Friday". Los Angeles Times. 
  7. ^ "Castle casts spell on Larsen clan; Founder tells his and club's history". Daily Variety. September 14, 2006. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  8. ^ "Magic at the Castle this weekend". Redlands Daily Facts. July 1, 2004. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 

External links[edit]