Hey guys! This week I wanted to talk about a once famous magician that actually invented one of the most popular magic illusions used by almost every magician to this day. His name is Joe Karson.
Back in 1940, Mr. Karson stumbled across a magic trick idea that bewildered everyone. It is called the Zombie illusion (most people know it as ‘The Zombie Ball’). It is a mirrored sphere that has a mind of it’s own. It floats above and in between the magician’s hands. And when covered with a cloth (which it never likes), flys about the stage dragging the magician behind it until the cloth is removed.
Mr. Karson was also a very inspirational businessman. He started out working in a magic act called Chan Lin & Company for several years, began performing solo, and in the late 1930’s started a mail order business called Karson Xclusives. This, along side of owning his own magic shop in Springfield Massachusetts grew his popularity. His illusions began selling all over the country not long after (most of them he built himself). If this wasn’t enough success for him, he was also one of the founding members of the Magic Dealers’ Association (MDA). Which was a non profit nationwide company that offered networking and services to magic supply retailers all across the country. Every year since it’s inception, the company held a convention where all the who’s who of magicians would flock to. The countless stories that transpired from this yearly event are legendary. Sadly though, the MDA closed their doors in April last year due to the declining industry economy.
This in a way, almost mirrors the life of Joe Karson. It was not all awesome magician tales of adventure and new and exciting illusions. He suffered greatly from alcoholism. He slowly faded from a shining star, into shadowed obscurity beginning in the 1950’s. At the age of 67 almost forgotten, he passed away on November 6, 1980. What was even more heartbreaking was that he was for all intensive purposes, penniless. He had been laid to rest in St. Michaels Cemetery in Springfield Massachusetts under an unmarked grave. And it wasn’t until the year 2000 when the Joe Karson fund was established to gather funds to give his burial site a proper headstone. His new headstone now looks up to the heavens just like his ambition once did.
All of Mr. Karson’s illusions still live on to this very day, amazing hundreds of thousands of spectators all over the world. Including the Zombie Ball of course, the Dancing Handkerchief, the Chinese Egg Bag, The Magic Vision Tester, the Rubberneck, and many many others.
“We must never forget to live our lives, not only with boundless passion, but also with wisdom and care.”