There’s always reason to get excited when a lost archive of magic performances gets uncovered. So much of the history of magic is passed on via word of mouth, and so many routines are reliant on live performances, that any videos uncovered from an era before everyone had cameras in their pocket feels monumental. And so it is with this recent trove of footage discovered by Magicana.
More than 60 films have been added to Magicana’s ‘Screening Room’ archive, all pulled from a collection recorded on 8mm camera during the late 1970s by Canadian collector Larry Thornton.
Most magic collectors are focused on accumulating apparatus, books, posters and ephemera. But in the 1970s, Larry Thornton, of Calgary, Canada set his sights on a different medium. His goal was to create a visual record of magicians who performed on film and television. Before home VCRs made it possible to preserve performances from live television, Larry went out, 8mm camera in hand, and started recording magicians whenever and wherever they would grant him permission.
The result is an extraordinary collection of home movies, meticulously preserved and catalogued—a rich video archive of magic video featuring many well-known performers including Daryl, Paul Harris, Paul Gertner, Johnny Ace Palmer, Abert Goshman and Mike Skinner... to name a few!
The breadth of performances available and the quality of the restoration are both incredible—there’s really not much like it available on the internet. Check out the full collection over at Magicana.