1. Home
Send to a Friend via Email
Wayne Kawamoto

Top Ten Magicians of All Time

By September 19, 2006

Follow me on:

Since this story ran in 2005, we have since published a related story, The Top Ten Magicians of Our Time.

Looking back on 50 years of his "It's Magic" theater show, Milt Larsen, the founder of the The Magic Castle, named the greatest magicians of all time.

1. Harry Houdini
2. Dante
3. Harry Blackstone Sr.
4. Doug Henning
5. Richiardi
6. Tihany
7. Mark Wilson
8. Siegfried and Roy
9. Lance Burton
10. Dai Vernon

Looking at the list...what? No David Copperfield?

Assuming that Larsen was focusing on twentieth century magicians, this removes Robert-Houdin, Alexander Herrmann and other notables. If the list were expanded, it would be interesting to see where Thurston, Devant, Cardini, Slydini, Blackstone Jr., Shimada, Paul Daniels, Ricky Jay and others might rank.

To read Larsen's brief comments on his choices, click here for the full article.

Related Reading:
Famous Magicians
Review: The Magic Castle
Milt and Bill Larsen Honored with Hollywood Star


December 24, 2006 at 6:24 pm
(1) kelsey says:

what about CRISS ANGEL!??!?!?
omg…he needs to be in the top 10
his amazing…and the things he does no one trys!

July 6, 2007 at 6:12 pm
(2) edward says:

what about david coperfield
who r u and who appointed you to rank top ten magicians of all time, man ur delusional,

September 23, 2008 at 3:24 pm
(3) Heather says:

Are you people crazy where is Criss Angel!!!!! He has been magician of the year before! He does the most amazing things on his show I don’t see how you couldn’t put him on the list.

September 24, 2008 at 2:48 am
(4) Ian says:

I am disturbed by the lack of Paul Daniels on this list. Unless Master Larsen was only listing American Magicians, then it makes sense. Paul Daniels had a weekly TV magic series on BBC that ran for over 15 SEASONS! If that isn’t worthy of a top slot, nothing is.

October 29, 2008 at 5:12 pm
(5) Zack says:

That is bull crap Criss Angel is better than Houdini! He walks on water, goes through glass, , walks down 51 story’s, and in broad day light surrounded by civilians, like no other magician does.

February 19, 2009 at 3:30 pm
(6) John says:

The MAGIC CASTLE made this list? How could they have been so naive? HOUDINI WAS #1? They of all organizations should know that HOUDINI WAS NOT A MAGICIAN. He did a couple small tricks early on in his career but nobody showed any interest. He became the greatest ESCAPE ARTIST of all time. He did absolutely NO MAGIC in his career. I’m sort of disappointed Michael Ammar and Max Maven aren’t on this list. But for everybody else, Criss Angel doesn’t belong on here at ALL. He relies on camera tricks to pull of his “miracles”. Ask any magician, he’s a discrace to the TRUE magic community.

March 29, 2009 at 3:50 am
(7) Lindsey says:

I think Houdini is the number 1 magician of all time too and don’t think Criss Angel or David Blane should be on the list. Houdini did stuff that involved real talent and it didn’t have to do with actual magic, it was technique that he perfected throughout his life, while the others relied on tricks or illusion or camera work. Houdini truly mastered escapes and nobody can do some of the stuff he did, although some of his techniques have been duplicated, most haven’t and like I said, it wasn’t a trick, it was years of practice and technique.

April 2, 2009 at 12:08 pm
(8) Neal5521 says:

Why criss angle. in the last newsletter we were to he was exposing magic secrets ala the masked magician.

April 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm
(9) neal5521 says:

Uh guys.
Did anybody else notice we a commenting on a three year old article.
A little late, dont you think?

August 14, 2009 at 3:04 am
(10) Johnny says:

What about Cyril. He should definitely be there.

September 18, 2009 at 7:38 pm
(11) MIke says:

Criss Angel does not deserve to be on this list or any other.
His ego is getting out of control!

I heard him being announced as “The greatest magician who ever lived”!

I don’t think so, the boy needs some acting lessons & an ass whipping to set him straight.

October 1, 2009 at 4:11 am
(12) Ishrak says:

criss angle deserves to be in the list of top magicians!!!!!!!!!
he is the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 13, 2009 at 9:17 am
(13) shamsheer haider says:

hey every body. the best magician are only three they are Davide blaine. criss angle and david copper filed. david blaine is the best he broke serval world records like holding his breath for 17 min . 48 days with out food . ect he was the friend of rich peoples he id the king

March 29, 2010 at 5:48 am
(14) Jay says:

David Blaine, for real, this guy doesn’t seem like any living man .. i am overwhelmed by his performance let alone several life&death moments

April 14, 2010 at 1:23 pm
(15) Mile says:

What about Val Valentino or Keith Barry

May 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm
(16) romain says:

how is criss angel is the best than Dante

June 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm
(17) Keegan says:

I believe Dai Vernon needs a lower place. The plots and methods he came up with are things that now almost EVERY magician uses. We owe him for his ideas and for sharing them.

July 6, 2010 at 10:07 pm
(18) david jaramillo says:

Dude i think Dai Vernon should be the highest. and i diddint see the other big names like slydini, or bill malon, greg wilson,david wiliamson, i think the list should be revised

August 1, 2010 at 9:47 pm
(19) Tyler Wiest says:

Any one who says where is Chris Angel is an idiot, Chris is a good magician but there are plenty better, and who deserve the top 10 more. (Some one needs to see a magician off of the TV screen before they be the judge)

I like the list, it seems to be more about rep than skill, which I admire.

August 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm
(20) Tyler Wiest says:

PS at David J…

Mark Wilson is already there, having Greg would be a bit over kill :P

August 9, 2010 at 9:59 am
(21) anirudh says:

wht abut franz harrare,cris angelsand david copperfield.
i m totally disturbed

September 1, 2010 at 5:58 am
(22) Dylan says:

The list is relevant so I have no reason to complain I mean everyone on the list is amazing at what they do.

October 25, 2010 at 3:18 am
(23) John Damen says:

What about the Pendragons?…David Blaine?…Jeff McBride?

April 17, 2011 at 7:19 am
(24) esam says:


April 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm
(25) lala says:

all of the people who say criss angel should be here you are stupid criss angel is fake stupid wanna be magician

May 16, 2011 at 7:36 am
(26) Quazi Ahmed Hussain says:

Things depend on who makes the rating. In the above list, P.C. Sarker the great magician of India is absent. Many tricks shown these days are the ones he demonstrated decades ago. Houdini himself was charmed by his incredible displays.

June 2, 2011 at 11:08 am
(27) Me says:


June 3, 2011 at 2:13 am
(28) Travis says:

Although it may be upsetting to many people reading these comments, most of these magicians belong on the top ten list. I advise any true magic follower to please read John’s (#6 ) responses to the list. Houdini was an escape artist who would perform a few magic tricks in his act. He may be one of the top 10 stage performers of all time, but was not a great magician by anyone’s account! My list would include Howard Thurston, Lance Burton, David Blaine and Harry Houdini (but not as # 1, because this is a list of pure magicians!) David Blaine is an important addition, because he is the best up close (street) magician as well as a master of endurance type productions.

June 3, 2011 at 9:51 am
(29) honey says:

where is criss angel

July 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm
(30) Michael Scott says:

OK Merlin was a myth right, doen’t count. What about Michael Le Scot 12th c. wizard (magician) who turned one mountain into three during an escape.

July 25, 2011 at 5:44 pm
(31) jonathan says:

I find it hard to believe that David Copperfield and Chris Angel aren’t on this list, the must be going by seniority or some, but even after 15 years are they just gonna knock 2 guys off like mobsters and add Angel and Dave?? lol and what about Blaine? poor David :)

August 3, 2011 at 10:19 pm
(32) andy says:

HOUDINI is the best magictian to ever live. He set the basics of magic. he invented half the ticks that the baby chris angel dose. Chirs angel is nothing id houdini never lived. Screw chris angel. If houdini lived today he would do more then walk on glass hidden in water.

October 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm
(33) Ian says:

Penn and Teller… ’nuff said…

October 30, 2011 at 2:05 pm
(34) kareem says:

david blaine deserves to be on this list !!!

November 2, 2011 at 4:24 pm
(35) Heather says:

WHERE IS CRISS ANGEL????!!!!! I love him very much! He’s my idol and he should be #1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love you, Criss Angel! I’m your biggest fan!:)

November 9, 2011 at 10:47 am
(36) takar says:

where the hell is cyril ?

December 12, 2011 at 5:55 am
(37) Ishan khann says:

What about davd blaine are you people mad

January 5, 2012 at 7:52 pm
(38) Crisisgay says:

Houdini is definitely in his right spot. Cris Angel? Hahahah what a joke. Who cares about camera tricks and illusions besides little teeny boppers. What Houdini did took talent that magicians nowadays still can’t figure out.

February 4, 2012 at 9:09 pm
(39) alvinajake says:

houdini is also uses optical illusions,.. same as cris angel ,.. cris angel booms on 2010 and that ranking is in 2005 ,.. so thats why cris angel is not in the top 10,..

February 18, 2012 at 11:22 pm
(40) zobayer says:


February 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm
(41) ZOBAYER says:


March 1, 2012 at 11:21 am
(42) Craig says:

David Blaine is an OK magician though all he seems to do now is STUNTS. STUNTS are not magic and he shouldn’t be praised for doing those from the magic community also criss angel never deserves to be on any list to do with magic unless it is a list of the worst magicians ever.
Sad to see Paul Daniels is not on the list though

April 9, 2012 at 9:07 pm
(43) Ellsbells says:


April 21, 2012 at 10:49 pm
(44) innes says:

What about derren brown, dynamo and criss angel!

April 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm
(45) maybee says:

no dynamo magician impossible needs to be number 1 (steven frayne)

May 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm
(46) ravindra says:

This list is garbage, no. 1 is only Criss Angel

June 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm
(47) anonymous says:

cris angle use camera trick and fake audience (they’re actors). So tell me why he should be on the list?

July 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm
(48) Jay dee says:

Dynamo without doubt seen him live the guy is amazing best showman ever and doesn’t do the same old tricks

July 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm
(49) dymn says:

wtf… criss angel is nothing but an actor… always trying to prove that he is better than others…. egoist…

November 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm
(50) Nisha says:

No, Criss Angel does not serve to be on the top ten. He doesn’t walk on water, he walks on plexi glass. He doesn’t levitate, he stands on a crane. PENN AND TELLER!!!!!! They deserve to be on :)

January 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm
(51) imdope says:

DAVID BLAINE!!!!!!!! stupids

February 27, 2013 at 11:36 pm
(52) houdinilover says:

where is harry potter, Dumbledore, or Voldemort?

March 25, 2013 at 7:27 am
(53) Mrs. Figg says:

I agree with houdinilover. Where are Harry, Dumbledore, and Voldemort? They’re a million times better than any of these muggles.

April 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm
(54) paddy says:


May 6, 2013 at 7:06 am
(55) toni says:

DAVID BLAINE is the best I’ve seen

July 24, 2013 at 12:35 am
(56) Martinfin says:

Doug Henning is the best without a question.

August 29, 2013 at 7:43 am
(57) Lawofraw says:

The best magician in the world is not a magician at all. A magician does magic tricks so for the magician that’s probably done the biggest tricks would have to be David Copperfield, hence arguably the best ever magician in modern times. BUT…. as for the real deal, be he a warlock or wizard, I’d have to say the best ever appearance of a human form to have demonstrated the most awe-inspiring, jaw dropping, eye opening magic ever has got to be Dynamo (Steve Frayne). Either that or all those street participants have been paid to be part of the bogus act. And if so, then it’s just got to be a matter of time before any number of the hundreds to date that have been filmed in the Magician Impossible series, goes public and reveal the trickery as just that. Non-disclosure contracts or not.

December 11, 2013 at 1:41 am
(58) raj says:

Dynamo is best magician i ever seen..

March 12, 2014 at 5:45 am
(59) gabby says:

everyone criss angel is all about camera trick search in google

April 1, 2014 at 3:30 am
(60) oswin says:

first off, houdini was clearly a magicican. before he got famous with the escape tricks he did a lot of magic tricks as well. he was extremely good at card tricks.
more then that, I think <b>robert-houdin</b> should have one of the places as well. he made magic into what it is today. HE is the person to stop pretending it was supernatural. get your history right!
and before you say something about houdini’s name looking like houdin, HOUDINI LOOKED UP SO MUCH TO HOUDIN THAT HE NAMED HIMSELF AFTER HOUDIN!!!

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.