Marshall Brodien: A Life in Magic

May 22nd, 2012by John RussickFiled under: Exhibitions, Stories

I met Marshall Brodien for the first time last summer. I called his home, told him about the magic exhibition we’re developing at the Museum, and he immediately invited me to come for a visit. Of course, I went. And while it was great to finally meet him, somehow I felt like I’d known him all my life.

Today, Marshall and his wife and assistant, Mary, live in Geneva, Illinois, and still perform periodically. Courtesy of Marshall Brodien.

I grew up in north central Illinois. For kids in my hometown watching TV had limited appeal. There was not much on. I think we could get four, maybe five, stations. But one of those was WGN, and if you watched WGN on the weekends in the 1970s, you were bound to see Marshall Brodien and his amazing TV Magic Cards.

Marshall first started hawking TV Magic Cards on WGN in 1970. Courtesy of Marshall Brodien.

He always said, “Most magic tricks are easy once you know the secret.” I never ordered a set of cards when I was a kid, so I never learned the secret. But when I went to Marshall’s house, he showed me how the cards work and how magicians use them to perform amazing tricks.

Watch Marshall perform a card trick:

Just knowing there’s a secret makes magic seem easy. However, performing magic isn’t easy. It’s not that Marshall was being less than honest in his pitch, but making logical people doubt the realities of their world is a remarkable feat—and Chicago magicians do it everyday.

Marshall Brodien has been making magic happen since he was a teenager. Now, as he nears 80 years old, his career as a magician at Riverview amusement park, Wizzo the Wizard on TV’s Bozo’s Circus, and the inspiring host of TV Magic Cards commercials will be on display in the exhibition Magic, beginning on Saturday, June 9.

Marshall got a big break when he was hired to work at Riverview amusement park, c. 1951. Courtesy of Marshall Brodien.

I hope you can make it.

>Learn more about the Magic exhibition

>See behind-the-scenes photos from Magic


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2 Responses to “Marshall Brodien: A Life in Magic”

  1. P.T. Murphy Says:

    Marshall has been an inspiration to many young magicians. I was lucky to have grown up in Chicago and witness many of his television performances. I am looking forward to visiting the exhibit.

  2. Jeff Higgins Says:

    You’re why I got started in magic. I never asked for it, but on Christmas of 1974 I recieved a TV Magic Kit. I been hooked ever since. I perform when I can and I collect all kinds of magic stuff. I wasn’t good at sports, so magic helped get through tough teen years. Thanks for sharing your secrets.

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