Santa Clarita Valley resident Mark Wilson, a pioneer in the art of magic, died Jan. 19 at the age of 91.
Born in Manhattan on April 11, 1929, Wilson fell in love with magic when he was just 8 years old after watching his first magic performance, spending every cent of his allowance from that point forward on magic tricks.
“My father is quite the legend in the magic industry and a pioneer in many different aspects of the television industry,” Wilson’s son Greg said. “The reason that magic is so popular on television and the internet today is because of my father’s work.”
Wilson’s “Magic Land of Allakazam” was the first network magic television series in 1960, ushering in a new era for magic, and was followed by a color special, “Mark Wilson’s Magic Circus,” in the 1970s.
Much of his productions, both live and televised, co-starred his family, including his wife, Nani Darnell, and sons, Mike and Greg. Nani was his lifelong partner onstage and off, and the couple traveled around the world doing magic.
Through the years, Wilson continued to create and produce magic shows for amusement parks, trade fairs, television, motion pictures and theatrical productions, among others, while his company also served the media industry with countless magic props and costumes.
For the past 30 years, the Wilsons had their production facility, Magic International, in Valencia, the longest time they have had any one location for their business, according to Greg.
Wilson’s passion for magic was also passed along to others via his magic instruction book, “The Mark Wilson Complete Course in Magic,” which has been translated into eight languages, or in-person during Magic University classes at the Magic Castle, where he was one of the founding members.
Wilson continued to consult on films and television productions well into his 80s, and continued teaching until he was nearly 90. His love for magic continued until the end, and his family is still discovering unfinished projects he was planning up until his final days.
“Even in the last weeks of his life … he would say, ‘Oh, I was sitting here, thinking about the new book,’” Greg added, chuckling. “He was constantly creating nonstop.”
Wilson’s impact on magic was international and spans multiple generations, Greg said, adding that even he was inspired by his father to devote his own life to magic.
“My father’s legacy was daunting and difficult for me to compete with, and so I decided that it’s better to support his legacy and mom’s,” Greg added.
Now, Greg plans to carry on the family magic business with his mother, transitioning it from a production facility into the Allakazam Archives and a future magic instruction site.