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The Top Ten Magicians of Our Time


The Top Ten Magicians of Our Time

Editor's Note: This list of best magicians has been updated. To read "Ten Magicians Who Made an Impact in 2013," please click here.

In 2006, the Magic Castle's Milt Larson named the top ten magicians of all time in a story that ran in Variety.

In his list, Larson identified, in his opinion, the finest magicians of the twentieth century. His list inspired me to come up with the top ten magicians of our time.

After careful thought, here are my top ten magicians, in order:

1. David Copperfield

David Copperfield is easily the best known magician in the world. He has presented innovative magic in his many television specials and continues to tour and perform for live audiences. He's an immensely talented and skillful entertainer who has effectively changed with the times and does it all: illusion, manipulation and close-up. At times in his career, he’s had the popularity of a rock star.

2. Doug Henning
Doug Henning is often credited with resurrecting magic as a theatrical art in the 1970's. He starred on Broadway, toured with a large stage show and popularized magic in his own television specials.

3. Siegfried and Roy
Known for their magic with big cats, the well known pair were not only the most successful and best known entertainers in Las Vegas, they were Las Vegas. Every magician who works in Las Vegas today can thank Siegfried and Roy.

4. Lance Burton
A Las Vegas star who headlines in his own show, Lance Burton has won FISM and appeared in his own television specials. He is a skilled magician and an excellent entertainer.

5. Ricky Jay
A respected magic historian and author and highly skilled in magic as well as the methods of cheats, Ricky Jay stars in his own live, close-up shows.

6. Mark Wilson
When television was in its infancy, Mark Wilson pioneered the presentation of magic on TV in an ambitious weekly series. He also headlined in his own Las Vegas show, acted as magic consultant for numerous television shows and starred in television magic specials.

7. Penn & Teller
The brilliant pair star in Las Vegas in their own live show, as well as a Showtime television series. For a couple of guys who learned to do a few cool things, the edgy Penn & Teller may be the most respected magicians in the lay public's eyes.

8. Harry Anderson
Best known as a television star, Harry Anderson created and presented his con man persona in comedy and nightclubs and starred in his own television specials.

9. Jeff McBride
Performer and teacher, Jeff McBride is a respected magic expert and skilled manipulator who tours in his own show and appears regularly in Las Vegas. He constantly brings innovation to the presentation of magic as a theatrical art.

10. Cyril Takayama
I'm going out on a limb here and giving the final slot to Cyril Takayama. I only know his magic through YouTube videos, but he's an accomplished performer who creates bold and brilliant magic. When I want to see creative new magic angles, I simply search for Cyril.

Did your favorite magicians make or not make the list? You can comment below.

Some thoughts.

The first five choices were easy, but the final five were difficult to whittle down. In particular, when I was down to my tenth slot, I was still considering the following entertainers: Marco Tempest, David Blaine, Criss Angel, Franz Harary, Mac King, Blackstone Jr., and Marvyn Roy and Carol.

Perhaps most controversial, Criss Angel has done well with his MindFreak television series, but the jury is still out on whether he's able to carry a live show in Vegas with Believe. David Blaine has also accomplished great things on television, but he's not a live performer.

Admittedly, my list is slanted towards American performers because I’m most familiar with their work. As a result, performers such as Paul Daniels and Wayne Dobson did not make my list.

I also wanted to list magicians who were well known to the general public, which ruled out such notables as Dai Vernon, John Carney, Johnny Ace Palmer, The Pendragons and many more.

In his top ten list, Milt Larson listed the greatest magicians of all time, but his list emphasized twentieth century magicians. In my list, I attempted to identify and justify the current top ten magicians. This took out big names that included: Harry Houdini, Harry Blackstone Sr., Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, Alexander Herrman, Thurston, David Devant, Cardini, Slydini, Harry Keller, John Nevil Maskelyne, Dante and more.

Again, you can comment below.

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