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Dick "Mr. Magic" Williams started learning magic at age 7 from a Christmas gift: a Gilbert magic set. He wanted to
join the Wizards of Wichita (KS) but membership was limited to those who were at least 18 years old. After seeing a
performance, they were delighted to make an exception and granted Dick charter membership when he was 13. He
performed with the club at military bases during World War II (scroll down for 1944 photos). In 1945, he joined the U.S.
Navy, serving on the U.S.S. West Virginia. He was one month shy of being 18 years old, not uncommon during the
turmoil after Pearl Harbor.
About Mr. Magic
Dick's wife and partner of 57 years, Virginia Williams, passed away on January 1, 2007, due to
Alzheimer's (about one month shy of her 87th birthday). She was a coloratura soprano, music
teacher, and his partner on Magicland. Virginia worked tirelessly sewing costumes, arranging
music, organizing props, and directing assistants to keep the show running smoothly. She was
preceded in death by their only child, Sherry, who died in 1981 at the age of 29...leaving behind
two small children.
Dick started his career in radio when he was only 17 years old, after winning a contest for having the best voice out of nearly 200 people (he won
$50!). Scroll down to see article. In Wichita, he finished college (B.A. in Liberal Arts, major: Political Science, Wichita State University) and worked as
a KAKE radio announcer for several years before transferring to KEDD-TV in 1955 (photo/also below). Before that, in 1947, he met his future wife,
Virginia, when he announced her live singing on KAKE radio. They married in 1949. In 1956, Dick and his wife and daughter moved to Amarillo, TX.
It was there that he started a television magic show that was the beginning of his later success. Dick performed over 300 magic shows on KGNC
(now KAMR) TV channel 4 (NBC) in Amarillo, TX, starting in 1963, in addition to being a weatherman. Before his KGNC gig, Dick tried selling
insurance and taught history to high school students. But, his true passion was broadcasting...and magic!
In 1965, Dick joined WMC-TV5, the NBC affiliate in Memphis, TN, as a staff announcer and weatherman (over 7000 weathercasts by 1989). After
hearing about his TV magic show in TX, he was asked if he would like to start a family magic show on WMC-TV. After talking with wife, Virginia, he
agreed, thinking it might be on the air for a year. After five years was amazed he still had enough material. Dick read many magic books to come up
with ideas and received feedback on tricks and patter from wife, Virginia. There was a lot of preparation, behind-the-scenes.***
Dick was the star of WMC-TV5's "Dick Williams' Magicland," a half-hour weekly show in Memphis, TN (Jan. 1966-1989).
Dick performed tricks and illusions, juggled clubs and scarves, and is often remembered for his signature finger moves
(Magician's Finger Exercises photos: see upper right-hand of screen).
Dick was featured in the 2005 Guinness World Records book on pg. 182 in a "Magic & Illusions"
section as well as pg. 154 in the 2006 book for having the longest-running magic show in television
history, with 1200 broadcasts (1500 TV shows total, if you include his shows on NBC in TX). He was
the first to perform an authorized version of Robert Harbin's Zig-Zag illusion on American TV (April
4th, 1971). Dick was featured in MAGIC Magazine's The Century: Those Who Impacted the Art in
America article, in 1999. He is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magician's Order of
Merlin - Excelsior; past member of Society of American Magicians.
41st anniversary (June 1990)
Dick and his wife Virginia wrote a book, primarily for magicians,
entitled Lights! Cameras! Magic! (1994).
Click here (button, above) for more information on Dick Williams'
published works and remastering of several of his favorite
tricks, including the Cups & Balls, as well as some info on the
Zig-Zag and Light Cabinet illusions. Also, magicians that
Dick Williams was on the cover of the International Brotherhood
of Magicians' Linking Ring magazine in June 1989. He also
appeared on the cover of another magic periodical: The New
TOPS, November 1974. See images, here.
For 23 years, Magicland was a popular family TV show in Memphis, with as many adults watching as children. Dick had a natural knack for coming up with genuine and relevant
patter that enhanced the magic. Guest stars on Magicland included: Harmon Baker, Blackstone, Jr., Zaney Blaney, Ali Bongo, John Booth, John Calvert, Ricki Dunn, Frank Everhart,
David Ginn, Mercer Helms, George Johnstone, Bob & Nikki Kenney, Jay Marshall, The Memphis Magicians, Charlie Miller, Tom Ogden, Col. Seymour, Ben Small, Joe White, and
Mark Wilson (source: Who's Who in Magic by Whaley).
|Wizards of Wichita USO Tour (circa 1944)
|The beginning of Dick Williams' Harvey
the Rabbit routine, which was on his top
10 list. Based on Charles' Out of my Hat,
now owned by Abbott's.
Dick always had a true love for the art of magic. He loved reading and/
or practicing magic. He made copious notes that he would keep in the
front of his magic books.
*** Hundreds of magical effects were maintained so not to repeat
anything in a year. The Williams kept index files with a list of each
effect, the patter, and the date of broadcast. They kept patter on larger
cards, and over 700 index cards. They started to videotape their own
shows for home use in 1978. Tour of their magic room...
Dick Williams' Magicland was taped at a few off-site
locations like Libertyland (aired 7/10/77), the Mid-
South Fair (1974, 1977, and maybe other dates), the
Millington Naval Base, & the Arkansas Rice Festival.
(The 1974 Mid-South Fair ran from 9/20-9/28/74 and
Dick Williams did 22 stage shows!)