Max Malini (born Max Katz Breit; 1873 – October 3, 1942) was an American illusionist who at his peak performed for several US Presidents and at Buckingham Palace, receiving gifts from monarchs across Europe and Asia. Many magicians hold him in high esteem for his skill and bold accomplishments.
Max Malini was born in the small town of Ostrow on the borders of Russia and Austria. At a young age, he emigrated to the US with his family, settling in New York City. He studied juggling at age twelve, but under the tutelage of Professor Seiden[who?] he began his studies of magic when he was fifteen. As he grew older, he began performing in bars. As his reputation grew, he would sell tickets to see a private show in his hotel room. He specialized in close-up magic, performing with coins and card magic.
Malini's performance style was marked by great audacity. For instance, he would often walk up to celebrities and, unannounced, bite a button from their cuffs and magically restore it. He would also borrow a gentleman's hat for a coin effect, where he would cover the coin and attempt to make it flip over. This he would fail to do, but would finish by lifting the hat to reveal a block of ice under the hat, barely large enough to fit.
One of Malini's signature routines was the blindfold card stab, which operated as follows. On a table a pack of cards were mixed and swirled around by a lady from the audience. The audience would blindfold Max with handkerchiefs. Malini then requested the name of a playing card, and when someone called out a playing card, he would stab a knife into the cards, then raised it up in the air, thereupon it was seen that he had impaled the correct card.
He died in Honolulu, Hawaii, on October 3, 1942. He had been in poor health for some time and his last performances were done sitting in a chair.