on January 3, 2014 - 8:29 PM
Nov. 17, 1918 – Dec. 25, 2013
Karl Norman, a popular expert close-up and bar magician who worked at Eddie Fechter’s legendary Forks Hotel in Cheektowaga, died Dec. 25 at his Kenmore home. He was 95.
Mr. Norman was born Karl Shisler in Sherkston, Ont., but went by the name of Karl Norman. He lived most of his life in the Buffalo area.
He was introduced to magic at age 8, when his father took him to see Howard Thurston, a famous stage magician. From then on, he devoted his life to magic.
Mr. Norman was considered one of the most influential magicians ever in Western New York, in addition to the late Gene Gordon and Eddie Fechter.
He started performing in vaudeville, burlesque and night-clubs in the late 1930s and 1940s. He met Gordon, who taught him card magic, while working at Bell Aircraft during World War II. He later helped Gordon start a magic store in the late 1940s.
By the late 1960s, Mr. Norman became a famous bar magician at Fechter’s Forks Hotel. He was known for his great comedic sense and performed powerful magic. He is still remembered for his card on the ceiling and coin in the bottle tricks.
Mr. Norman also was a great teacher of magic. He lectured throughout North America and Germany, and influenced many young magicians.
Among his many honors, he was presented in 1982 the first Fechter’s Finger Flicking Frolic Award for the person who contributed the most to that year’s prestigious gathering. More recently, he was honored when his name was added to Gene Gordon’s name as the official name of the local International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 12.
His ability to perform at a moment’s notice was displayed at a large magic convention when he was asked to introduce a famous guest speaker. After the speaker did not appear, Karl borrowed some cards and a rope and, with much shtick, entertained 400 magicians for more than an hour. He received a standing ovation.
Mr. Norman’s first wife, Marge, died in 1995. Recently, he married his longtime companion, Norine Foster.
A broken wand ceremony, traditional to mark the passing of a magician, will be held in his memory at a meeting of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 12 at 7 p.m. Monday in the Screening Room, 3131 Sheridan Drive, Amherst.