Top 10 Magicians Of All Time

Humans have always been obsessed with the supernatural, including magic.  Certain people have been able to use this to make a career for themselves, becoming world famous (and of course super-rich).  Here are the ten greatest magicians of all time.

#10. Soul Mystique

They may be the least known act on this list, but quick-change act Soul Mystique have revived much recognition.  They were named one of the top 10 magicians in the world by Fox Bio Channel in 2008, and were invited to perform as the closing act to the event, “A Tribute to Siegfried and Roy at the London Palladium.”  The duo found fame on the show Australia’s Got Talent, where they finished as Grand Finalists in 2007, and 2nd Runners-Up in 2012.

#9. Dante

Harry August Jansen, better known as Dante the Magician, was so influential that his death in 1955 has come to end what historians call the “Golden Age of Magic.”  Dante toured the world performing his magic with a troupe of between 25 and 40 performers, becoming famous uttering the Danish nonsense words “Sim Sala Bim”, taken from a children’s song. He was well-known to be the greatest magician in the world at his time.

#8. Harry Blackstone Sr.

Harry Blackstone Sr. became famous for performing to the USO (United States Organizations Inc.) during World War II.  Many of the tricks that are famous today were made popular through Blackstone Sr.  “Sawing Woman in Half” was arguably his most famous trick.  He would use a saw to cut through a piece of lumber, and then seem to cut through a woman, who would rise up unharmed afterwards.  His son, Harry Blackstone Jr., also became a renowned magician, as he started from an infant in his father’s shows.

#7. Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin

19th century French magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin is known as the father of the modern style of magic.  Harry Houdini idolized the magician, and chose his stage name in honor of his inspiration.  Robert-Houdin’s most famous trick was called “Second Sight.”  He would walk through the audience, touching random items.  A blindfolded assistant would then describe each item in detail.  Another variation of the trick had his Emile, sip on a glass of water, while an audience member thought of a liquid.  Robert-Houdin would “read” the audience member’s mind, through his son, and reveal the liquid.

#6. David Blaine

David Blaine became famous in the late 90’s through his show, “Street Magic.”  His show was unique for showing street magic up-close, as well as Blaine’s ultra-cool style throughout his tricks.  He then made a name for himself as an endurance artist.  Blaine has been buried alive (a stunt his idol Houdini planned on performing before his death in 1926) for a week, frozen in an ice block for 63 hours (a world record at the time), stood on a 100-foot high pillar without any harnesses for 35 hours, gone 44 days in a glass box without any food or nutrients, spun in a gyroscope for 16 hours, hung upside down for 60 hours, and most recently, spent 72 hours with one million volts of electrical discharge aimed at his body.

#5. Siegfried and Roy

German magician Siegfried Fishbacher and exotic animal trainer Roy Horn immigrated to the United States and combined their talents to form a unique magic act featuring white tigers and lions.  From 1990 to 2003, they had a show at The Mirage in Las Vegas, which was regarded as the most visited Vegas show.  In 2003, Horn was bitten by one of his tigers on the neck while performing.  He suffered large blood loss and a quarter of his skull was removed as doctors tried to save his life.  He eventually was able to talk and walk again in 2006.  However, The Mirage canceled the show in the meantime, and the duo officially announced their retirement in 2010.

#4. Criss Angel

Cristopher Nicholas Sarantakos (no wonder he choose a stage name) is relatively knew to the magic scene.  His show, Criss Angel: Mindfreak premiered on the A&E Network in 2005.  It ran until 2010, with six seasons, and earned the magician worldwide fame.  Some of his most famous stunts were walking between two buildings before a crowd in Las Vegas, cutting himself in half, and walking on water.  Angel was able to gain fame through his edgy personality and numerous levitation tricks.  He also performed in a illusion show in 2008 called Criss Angel: Believe, which was in partnership with Cirque Soleil.

#3. Penn and Teller

Penn Jillete and Raymond Teller became famous as the duo “Penn and Teller” in the late 80’s.  Their humorous magic fascinated audiences for decades.  More recently, the two have moved to a television show where they debunk pseudoscience.  One of the more unique aspects of their shows is when they show a popular trick, like “Cups and Balls” and show the audience how the trick is done.  They then perform a more complex form of the trick, like using transparent cups, to show how the trick is “really done.”  Teller almost never speaks during their tricks, and is usually subjected to violence, like being dropped on spikes, run over by an 18-wheeler, or submerged in a tank of water.

#2. Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini, who was active in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, is most famous for being an escape artist.  He gained fame by touring Europe, asking different police forces to lock him up at every stop.  He would go on to escape a straitjacket while hanging off a skyscraper, a straitjacket from underwater, and being buried alive, which he reportedly barely survived.  There were charges that Houdini’s escapes were faked, but Houdini attacked fake magicians throughout his career.  The circumstances of his death in 1926 are fittingly dramatic, as a popular story says a college student asked Houdini if his stomach could withstand any punch.  Houdini died a few days later from peritonitis, from a ruptured appendix.

#1. David Copperfield

David Copperfield’s long, illustrious career has allowed him to become the most successful solo entertainer in history.  At 19, he was headlining a show in a large hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii.  He was approached by ABC in 1977 to produce a magic special.  In his specials, Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear, floated over the Grand Canyon, and walked through the Great Wall of China.  Even at 56, Copperfield still performs many shows a week.  He was one of the first magicians to successfully combine amazing magic tricks with great storytelling.


  1. No Dai Vernon? Also, given that this is the top ten of ‘all time’ why does it only go back 150 years odd?

  2. Put, David Blaine where he belongs in 4th after Penn and Teller. Video editing tricks… Come on. Blaine does real sleight of hand comparable with Daniel Madison, Juan Tamariz, and Richard Turner. Three more names that are better than your 4th and 5th spots. Plus, Blaine does physical conditioning, again real stuff, i.e., ice picks through the arm, standing in place for hours, holding his breath longer than anyone on the list, takes the Houdini punch by Kimbo Slice. He drinks water, then drinks kerosene. He breathes fire and put the fire out with the water that’s left in his stomach. He defies all odds and takes the biggest risks.

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