John Booth
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John Booth

8 x 10" action photograph of the late John Booth
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Location Magic Library (Home)
Condition Mint
Owner Bryan-Keith Taylor
John Booth (magician)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Nicholls Booth
7 August 1912
Meadville, Pennsylvania[1]

11 November 2009
Los Alamitos, California[2]

Resting place
Lakeside Cemetery, Colon, Michigan

Known for
magician, author, lecturer

John Nicholls Booth (1912-2009) was a professional magician and prolific author of several articles and reference texts regarding the history of magic performance. He was well-recognized for his work within the trade, and is also known for having the longest running membership in the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

1 Biography
2 Legacy
3 Publications
4 Awards
5 References


Booth was born in Los Alamitos, California in 1912. His interest in magic began at age 10 with a magic set, and began performing semi-professionally at age 15.[3] In 1928, Booth joined the International Brotherhood of Magicians and began publishing a serial column on magic history called "Memoirs of a Magician's Ghost" in their publication, The Linking Ring.[2]

In 1934, Booth completed his college education at McMaster University and focused on magic performance as his profession. He began doing performances in high schools, but eventually was able to perform for nightclubs and hotel shows. Around this time, Booth began to write his first two books, Forging Ahead in Magic and Marvels of Mystery, which had later become classic reference works for magicians.[2]

Later, Booth stopped doing show performances and left to become an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister in 1942.[3] From personal accounts, Booth reported that he had been interesting becoming a minister, but was reluctant to begin seminary due to concerns about his own temperament. He said, "Finally, in 1940, my misgivings evaporated. I closed a two week engagement as a magician in the Schroeder Hotel in Milwaukee (now the Hilton) and went directly to the Meadville Theological School now located in Chicago, the seminary of my father 30 years earlier."[2] He spent over 30 years as a minster in the Universalist Unitarian Church.

In 1986, Booth published the book Psychic Paradoxes. The book debunked the tricks of fraudulent mediums and psychics and was published by Prometheus Books.

Afterwards, Booth incorporated magic topics into personal lectures and produced historical documentaries on magic, and retired at the age of 88.[2] Booth died at age 97 in 2009.[2]


Booth is noted to be experienced as a nightclub magician who performed at premier hotels and venues,[2] but his enduring contributions to magic were as a magic historian, as he documented magic performance through his own travels and experiences.[4] He was purported to be one of the first to create documentaries for presentations and lectures on magic.[5] One such account was about finding a genuine performance of the Indian rope trick, where he attempted to find a performer by paying for newspaper advertisements, but was ultimately unsuccessful at finding a true performance.[5]

Forging Ahead in Magic (1939)
Marvels of Mystery: A Professional Magician's Textbook of Conjuring Masterpieces (1941)
The John Booth Classics (1975)
Psychic Paradoxes (1986)
Wonders of Magic: A Veteran Magician's Book of Original Tricks, Concepts, Pictures, Memoirs, and Conjuring History (1986)
Fabulous Destinations (2007)


In 1937, early in his career, Booth was given the Sphinx Award in category of Professional Magician from the trade magazine The Sphinx.[6] The award was given for his notable "Can You Tie It?" effect submitted to and published in an earlier issue of the magazine, and noted its novelty and the subtlety of its methodology.[6] Booth was awarded with the "John Nevil Maskelyne Prize" by The Magic Circle in 1987 for his literary contributions to magic performance.[7] He was also honored by being added to the Society of American Magicians' Hall of Fame.[8]


1.Jump up ^ Mulholland, John (1931). The Sphinx, Vol. 30 No. 1. Society of American Magicians. p. 2.
2.^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g Warren, Bobby. "John Booth: Minister, magican worked to bring people together". International Brotherhood of Magicians. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
3.^ Jump up to: a b Whaley, Barton (1990). Who's who in Magic: An International Biographical Guide from Past to Present. Jeff Busby Magic, Incorporated.
4.Jump up ^ Coleman, Earle J. (1987). Magic : a reference guide. New York: Greenwood Press. p. 165. ISBN 0313233977.
5.^ Jump up to: a b Smith, Bruce (2000). Great Rope & Ring Tricks. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 107. ISBN 0806971797.
6.^ Jump up to: a b Mulholland, John (1937). "The Winners for 1937 of The Sphinx Award". The Sphinx. Society of American Magicians. p. 7.
7.Jump up ^ Dawes, Edwin; Michael Bailey (2005). Circle Without End the Magic Circle 1905. Jeremy Mills Publishing. ISBN 0954648498.
8.Jump up ^ "Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame and Magic Museum". Society of American Magicians. Retrieved 14 September 2013.


John Booth (1912 - 2009) was born John Nicholls Booth and became a successful nightclub magician before leaving magic in 1940 to pursue a career as a Unitarian minister.

1 Biography
2 Awards
3 Books
4 References


A prolific author, he penned hundreds of articles on magic for Linking Ring, Sphinx, Genii and Magicol, as well as publishing Canada's magic magazine, Canadian Magician's Digest in 1929. In 1931, he organized Canada's first magic convention. In 1938 he also worked as "Jancini".

Booth eventually incorporated magic into his lectures and conducted the funeral service for Eugene Laurant. He was a world traveler and had climbed the Himalayas.

Booth was the author of the longest running column in Linking Ring Magazine of magic history called "Memoirs of a Magician's Ghost" which started in May 1963 and didn't conclude until January 2000 (435 monthly installments). The first 25 years of these writings were indexed by Ben Robinson and Amy Janiello and published as a book under the same title "Memoirs of a Magician's Ghost" (1988)

1937 Sphinx Award
1977 Academy of Magical Arts Literary Fellowship.
1983 SAM Hall of Fame.
1985 and 1988 H. Adrian Smith Literary Award
1987 Magic Circle "John Nevil Maskelyne Prize".
2000 Honorary Life Membership to the IBM

Super Magical Miracles (1930)
Magical Mentalism
Forging Ahead in Magic (1939)
Marvels of Mystery (1941)
The Quest for Preaching Power (1943)
Fabulous Destinations (1950)
The Story of the Second Church in Boston (1959)
The John Booth Classics (1975) a reprint of the two previous books plus "A Conjurer's Reminiscences"
Psychic Paradoxes (1984)
Wonders of Magic (1986)
Dramatic Magic (1988)
Creative World of Conjuring (1990)
Conjurian's Discoveries (1992)
The Fine Art of Hocus Pocus (1996)
Keys To Magic's Inner World (1999)
Extending Magic Beyond Credibility (2001)

This page incorporated content from John Booth (magician),
a page hosted on Wikipedia. Please consult the history of the original page to see a list of its authors. Therefor, this article is also available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Who's Who in Magic, Sphinx, March 1931
The Linking Ring, Vol. XV, No. 6, August 1935, Biography of John Booth, page 476
The Linking Ring, Vol. 26, No. 11, January 1947, Biography of John Booth by Lawrence Arcuri, page 17
Cover Genii 1965 August
Genii, Vol. 45, No. 4, April 1981, Our Cover – John Nicholls Booth, by Bill Larsen, page 225
Genii, Vol. 73, No. 1, January 2001, Obituary JOHN BOOTH August 7, 1912 - November 11, 2009 by Clay Shevlin, page 14