Milbourne Christopher (23 March 1914 – 17 June 1984) was a prominent American illusionist, magic historian, and author.
23 March 1914|
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
17 June 1984 (aged 70)|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Magician, historian, and skeptic|
President of the Society of American Magicians, an honorary vice-president to The Magic Circle, and one of the founding members of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Christopher wrote a number of books, including a biography of Harry Houdini titled Houdini: The Untold Story, a chronicle of his own craft titled The Illustrated History Of Magic, and thousands of essays relating to magic and mentalism.
Christopher regarded those individuals who claimed extrasensory perception or psychic powers to be actually using magic trickery. He wrote three book-length exposés regarding those he said were false seers or psychics: ESP, Seers & Psychics; Mediums, Mystics, & The Occult; and Search For The Soul. In the latter book he found no evidence for the existence of the soul. Skeptical investigator Joe Nickell who was influenced by Christopher recommended the books "without reservation."
Christopher also debunked parapsychology experiments and experimenters during his lifetime. Ironically, despite his denial of the existence of psychic or paranormal powers, and like fellow magicians Harry Houdini and James Randi, both of whom also worked to expose false psychics and mediums, Christopher was accused by some of using paranormal powers to perform his own magic tricks and illusions.
In November 2010, Christopher's widow, Maurine Brooks Christopher, published a special edition of Houdini: A Pictorial Life with Christopher Collection curator.
At a meeting of the executive council of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) in Denver, Colorado in April 2011, Christopher was selected for inclusion in CSI's Pantheon of Skeptics. The Pantheon of Skeptics was created by CSI to remember the legacy of deceased fellows of CSI and their contributions to the cause of scientific skepticism.
In 2012, the book Milbourne Christopher: The Man & His Magic, was authored by William V. Rauscher.
The Milbourne Christopher Foundation was established to encourage excellence, originality and leadership in the magical arts and to help keep conjuring on a level with the other most popular entertainment forms – dance, drama, comedy and music. Incorporated in New York State in 1991, the foundation is federally approved as a charitable organization which was financially supported in the past, and so too will be in the future, through her contributions. The board members have changed through the years, as have several of the award judges. Both the officers and award judges donate their services to the foundation.
It was Mrs. Christopher wish, and the purpose of the foundation, to sponsor annual awards that spotlight the best magic has to offer contemporaneously in performing, writing, publishing and invention. The categories reflect Milbourne Christopher’s diversified career. This includes the areas of
Author and/or publisher Outstanding illusionist and/or illusion creator Promising young magician Mentalist Lifetime achievement/master’s award Ambassador of Magic
Winners in other areas may be added at the discretion of the judges and not all winner categories are awarded each year. The charter also authorizes the use of the foundation’s resources to keep classic books of magic – such as Christopher’s “Illustrated History of Magic”, “Panorama of Magic” and his biographies of Houdini.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1938). Stretching A Rope. Kanter's Magic Shop.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1947). Magic At Your Finger Tips. Maryland Magic Studio.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1948). 50 Tricks With A Thumb Tip. D. Robbins & Company.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1949). Conjuring With Christopher. Holden's Magic Shop.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1958). The Greatest Magic Illusions Of All Time, article for Popular Mechanics magazine.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1962). Panorama Of Magic. New York: Dover. p. 216. ISBN 0-486-20774-9. LCCN 62-51376.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1969). Houdini: The Untold Story. New York: Crowell. p. 281. OCLC 4255.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1970). ESP, Seers & Psychics: What The Occult Really Is. New York: Crowell. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-690-26815-7. OCLC 97063.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1973). The Illustrated History Of Magic. New York: Crowell. p. 452. ISBN 0-435-07016-9. OCLC 668533.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1975). Mediums, Mystics, & The Occult: New Revelations About Psychics And Their Secrets. New York: Crowell. p. 275. ISBN 0-690-00476-1. OCLC 1095102.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1977). Milbourne Christopher's Magic Book. New York: Crowell. p. 240. ISBN 0-690-01677-8. OCLC 3088945.
- Christopher, Milbourne (1979). Search For The Soul: An Insider's Report On The Continuing Quest By Psychics & Scientists For Evidence Of Life After Death. New York: Crowell. p. 206. ISBN 0-690-01760-X. OCLC 5241692.
- "Milbourne Christopher, 70, Magician On Stage And TV". The New York Times. June 19, 1984. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- Hövelmann. Gerd H; Truzzi, Marcello; Hoebens, Piet Hein. (1985). Skeptical Literature on Parapsychology: An Annotated Bibliography. In Paul Kurtz. A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology. Prometheus Books. pp. 449-490. ISBN 0-87975-300-5
- "Search for the Soul". Kirkus Reviews.
- "Celebrating Milbourne Christopher". Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- Christopher, Milbourne. (1975). Mediums, Mystics & The Occult. New York: Crowell. p. 233
- "Houdini A Pictorial Life Collector's Edition". Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- "The Pantheon of Skeptics". CSI. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Archived from the original on 31 January 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- Milbourne Christopher: The Man and His Magic Archived 2014-12-20 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- "Hall of Fame". The Academy of Magical Arts.