When he was in high school, Wilson performed magic at Douglas Magic Land in Dallas, Texas. Later, he majored in advertising at Southern Methodist University.
In 1954, Wilson unveiled his first television series, "Time for Magic," which ran in Dallas. The show was sponsored by Dr. Pepper.
In 1960, the success of his first show led to "Magic Land of Allakazam," which aired nationally each Saturday morning on the CBS network, and later on ABC. Allakazam ran for five years and Darnell appeared in some 200 illusions.
Key personnel and creative consultants, in addition to Darnell, were Bev Bergeron (Rebo the Clown), Bob Towner and illusion designer John Gaughan.
Wilson and Darnell's youngest son, Greg Wilson, was born in 1965 and is an accomplished and well known magician.
In the 1970s, Wilson produced and starred in his "Magic Circus" television specials, which were released on DVD in 2008. The shows were sponsored by Pillsbury. During this era, Wilson worked with Alan Wakeling.
In 1972, Wilson was awarded "Magician of the Year" by the Academy of Magical Arts. He was given this prestigious award twice.
After taking his illusion show to Las Vegas, Wilson published his "Mark Wilson Course in Magic" which remains a standard for beginning magicians and has sold some 800,000 copies.
Wilson acted as magic consultant to numerous television shows, most notably, "The Magician," which starred Bill Bixby.
In 1980, Wilson was invited to the People's Republic of China. He was the first Western entertainer to perform in the emerging country.
In 2008, Darnell was interviewed in the documentary, Women in Boxes.
Wilson and Darnell continue to educate both beginning and professional magicians through occasional classes that are held at the Magic Castle, as well as through privately held seminars and lectures.