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Broken Wand - David Alexander

Message from Richard Webster

Just heard that David Alexander has tradgically passed away. More information to follow shorty.

A Brief Bio
David Alexander daily accomplishes his life’s goal of “doing interesting things.” A professional magician for much of his adult life, magic has taken him to places and introduced him to people he would not have otherwise met. It has also given him a second career as a published author and a third as a successful artist.

As a child, David was fascinated with magic, becoming an original member of the fabled Long Beach Mystics in the mid-1950s. Prodigious study and contact with older magicians broadened his understanding. Extensive reading combined with performances in high school and college enhanced both his skill and self-confidence.

David was fortunate in being apprenticed to the noted Spanish vaudeville and nightclub magician, Jose Frakson. David was in good company for it was no less than Jack Benny who once said that he had learned how to walk on a stage by watching Frakson. David learned several of Frakson’s exclusive tricks and routines, material he still uses today, decades later. During his formal seven year apprenticeship, David learned the inner secrets of stagecraft: the ability to quickly establish rapport with an audience and entertain them.

David was also fortunate in being friends with Charlie Miller. Unknown to the general public, Charlie Miller is a legend among magicians and it is from him that David received one of his signature tricks: the production of a glass of water from an examined bag. (See the video clip.) David and Charlie’s friendship was cemented one evening when they were talking about Max Malini’s famous production of a chunk of ice from under a hat. Charlie went through the moves and David emulated them with a hat he’d brought for the occasion. At the end David lifted the hat and there, to Charlie’s great surprise, was a five-pound hunk of ice. Charlie’s feelings were expressed in his inscription on the flyleaf of Expert Card Technique: “To Dave Alexander, whose feat of ice has made me most impressed. Charlie Miller.”

Leaving college in the mid-1960s, David traveled to San Francisco where he became the Hotel Claremont’s first Resident Magician, performing in their restaurant for several months. During this time the Carter Collection of rare magic equipment and memorabilia was rediscovered in San Francisco. David became the first curator of the fabled collection.

Returning to Southern California David was hired by Princess Cruises as their first magician. David cruised for several years, both for Princess and later Sitmar, logging more than half a million miles at sea while entertaining tens of thousands of happy passengers.

David toured Mexico and Central America, performing in Acapulco for nearly a year, as well as Mexico City, Veracruz, private parties in Cuernavaca, as well as El Salvador and Guatemala.

David is the only magician ever hired by the Trader Vic Organization and was a feature of their Señor Pico Restaurant for over two and one-half years. David entertained at private parties for Old Hollywood royalty such as Norma Shearer, Ray Milland, Randolph Scott, Van Heflin and New Hollywood royalty like James Coburn. The quality of David’s early work was recognized by the world’s oldest magic organization, The Society of American Magicians, when they awarded him their Manipulation Award over three decades ago.

David’s travels have taken him from the jungles of the Philippines to the top of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima Island; from the salons of the wealthy in Beverly Hills and Acapulco to the enlisted men’s clubs on U.S. military bases around the world; from U.S. embassies and consulates to Fortune 500 hospitality suites. He has worked his act in Spanish, French, and Japanese and on television in the United States, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Mexico and Central America.

In 1979 David wrote and privately published in a small edition limited to the magic trade: The Complete Professional Pickpocket, considered by many to be the definitive work on stage pickpocketing. It has been out of print for over 20 years, despite continued requests to reprint it.

One of his most unusual performances happened in late 2000 when he was hired by the head of a university medical school to entertain the graduating Fellows, but in disguise. He was introduced as “David Alexander, Ph.D. Harvard Medical School Staff, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh” and lectured for fifteen minutes on modern advances in psychology. After garnering a number of hearty laughs, he was revealed by the head of the school and launched into his magic, but so successful was his presentation that fully half of the people who came up afterwards insisted on calling him “Doctor,” and asked to be remembered to friends at Harvard!

In the early 1990s David was chosen by his friend Gene Roddenberry to write his authorized biography, Star Trek Creator, published in hardback 1994 and paperback in 1995.

David’s last published project was his investigation into the identity of S.W. Erdnase, the mysterious author of the “bible” of card magicians and gambling cheats, The Expert at the Card Table. His investigation resulted in an invitation to present his findings at the prestigious Los Angeles Conference on Magic History. It also garnered the cover of Genii The Conjuror’s Magazine, articles in various newspapers including one on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, and an extended interview on the BBC.

David’s third profession is that of silhouette artist. Twenty-seven years ago David encountered a silhouette artist who wanted to learn card tricks. The two became friends and traded skills. Today, David finds himself one of less than twenty quality silhouette artists still practicing this rare and ancient art.

Typically, David found himself going further with silhouette cutting than he originally planned. He collected books to the point that he has nearly everything on silhouettes written in the English language, but he also collected examples of other artists’ work.

At first the collection was simply a learning tool, but over the years it grew into the world’s most comprehensive collection of 20th Century silhouette artists’ work with David becoming a recognized expert. His next book, to be published soon, will be The Illustrated History of 20th Century Silhouettes and Guide to Collectibles.


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