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Jono Blythe's Hocus Focus | Max Malini

As I delve into the captivating world of magic history, one name that immediately stands out is Max Malini. Born as Max Katz Breit in 1875, this extraordinary magician left an indelible mark on the art of sleight of hand.


Known for his audacity, charm, and unparalleled skill in close-up magic, Max Malini mesmerised audiences around the world with his remarkable performances. Join me on a journey as we explore the life and magic of the man they called the "Napoleon of Magic."



By Max Malini - Malini the Magician (booklet). Chicago: Congress Hotel, 1925., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49103263

Max Malini was born in the small town of Ostrow, situated on the borders of Russia and Austria. In search of better opportunities, his Jewish family emigrated to the United States and settled in the vibrant city of New York. It was here that Max's passion for entertainment and magic began to take shape.


At the tender age of twelve, Max found himself drawn to the world of juggling. He dedicated himself to mastering this art form, honing his skills and captivating audiences with his dexterity. During this time, Max crossed paths with a renowned variety entertainer named "Professor" Frank Seiden, who became his mentor and introduced him to the world of magic. Under Seiden's guidance, Max embarked on a journey that would shape his destiny as one of the greatest magicians of his time.


Max Malini's true prowess lay in the realm of close-up magic. Armed with coins and cards, he enchanted spectators with his sleight of hand, leaving them astounded by his seemingly impossible feats. Unlike the magicians of his era who relied on grand illusions, Max preferred the intimate and intricate nature of close-up magic. This unique approach not only set him apart from his contemporaries but also made traveling between performances much more convenient.


Max Malini was known for his audacious style and astonishing tricks that left even the most skeptical spectators in awe. One of his signature routines was the blindfold card stab. In this act, a pack of cards was mixed and shuffled by a volunteer from the audience. With his eyes covered by handkerchiefs, Max would skillfully impale the selected card with a knife, stunning everyone with his accuracy.


Malini's performances attracted the attention of prominent figures, including celebrities, politicians, and even royalty. His audacious nature allowed him to approach renowned personalities unannounced and leave them in sheer disbelief. On one occasion, he bit a button from a celebrity's cuff and magically restored it. His talent and reputation spread far and wide, leading to invitations to perform for luminaries such as Senator Mark Hanna, Warren G. Harding, Theodore Roosevelt, Al Capone, John D. Rockefeller, and even European royalty.


Max's encounter with Senator Mark Hanna proved to be a turning point in his career. After his impromptu trick on the senator, Malini was later invited to perform for Hanna and his associates, ultimately leading to an invitation to perform at the prestigious White House. His unforgettable presence and magical prowess captivated the hearts and minds of those in attendance, solidifying his reputation as a master magician.


Max Malini referred to himself as the "Napoleon of Magic," a title befitting his unmatched talent and larger-than-life personality. His contributions to the world of magic continue to inspire and influence magicians to this day. Sadly, Max's health began to decline, and he passed away on October 3, 1942, in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Max Malini's journey from a small town in Eastern Europe to becoming one of the most revered magicians of his time is nothing short of extraordinary. Through his artistry and daring performances, he left an indelible mark on the world of magic. Max's legacy lives on as a testament to the power of close-up magic and the audacity to push the boundaries of what is possible.



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