Max Malini (born Max Katz Breit; 1873 – 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. Many magicians hold him in high esteem 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.
One of Malini's signature routines was the blindfold card stab. A table center stage, a borrowed pen-knife on the edge of the table, and on that table the cards of an entire pack were mixed and swirled around and around by a lady from the audience. The audience would blindfold Max with borrowed handkerchiefs, and at least one time a man in the front row seat tossed his suit coat over Max’s head and tied a rope around the neck.
The magician then requested the name of a playing card, and when someone called out a playing card, blindfolded Max stabbed down the knife into the hopelessly scattered face-down cards, then raised it up in the air, thereupon it was seen that he had impaled the correct card.
Max Malini was born in the small town of Ostrow 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[who?] 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.
- Malini was referenced in the Season 7 episode of The X-Files titled "The Amazing Maleeni".
- The TV show The Cape had a regular character by this name, played by Keith David.
- Pogue, David (1998). Magic for Dummies. Hungry Minds. p. 312. ISBN 0-7645-5101-9.
- "When The Magician Walked onto The Stage They Laughed, But When He Started to Perform..."