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The World's Most Dangerous Magic was the title of two American television specials showcasing illusion and escapology acts, which were made for the NBC network. The first was originally broadcast on 27 April 1998[1] and the second, titled The World's Most Dangerous Magic 2, was initially aired on 2 May 1999.[2][3]

The shows were the brainchild of producer Gary Ouellet and were made by the Gary L Pudney Company.[2] They featured a combination of famous performers and lesser-known magicians, each performing stunts or illusions that were claimed to involve the risk of death or serious injury.

While some stunts clearly involved genuine life-threatening danger, others were normal effects presented by magicians. In the first show, The Pendragons performed Impaled: Charlotte, wearing a brief leather sling bikini, was balanced face-up on the tip of an upright swordThe voice-over described this as a "balancing feat" in which Charlotte risked fatal impalement should it go wrong. However, Impaled is a well known staple of the Pendragons' stage show, in which Charlotte is visibly penetrated by the metal spike. Although she is genuinely penetrated, this is the intended effect, which she always survives (although if performed clumsily or with poor quality apparatus there is could be a risk of back injury to the assistant as her body drops down the sword). The Pendragons' presentation of this illusion is nevertheless rated by many magicians as possibly the best ever version of the trick.

Tricks and performers[]

The World's Most Dangerous Magic[]

  • "Sixty Seconds to Live" - magician Robert Gallup performed an escape while suspended upside down from three burning ropes.
  • "Scorpion Production" - Robert Gallup.
  • "Viper Pit" - Melinda Saxe was shackled to the bottom of a glass tank which was then filled with snakes. She escaped using levitation.
  • "Sword Basket" - Charlotte Pendragon got into a wicker basket and her husband Jonathon thrust several burning spears through it. The voice-over stated that Charlotte had suffered burns during a previous attempt at the stunt.
  • "Wolf Trap" - Robert Gallup put his hand into a metal toothed animal trap.
  • "Table of Terror" - Mark Kalin performed the Table of Death trick.
  • "Impaled" - Jonathon Pendragon balanced his wife Charlotte on the point of a sword and she then appeared to be impaled by it.
  • "Jagged Edge" - Gary Kurtz played a form of Russian roulette using knives.
  • "Death at Hoover Dam" - Escape artist Dean Gunnarson freed himself from a straitjacket while suspended upside down 726 feet above the ground from the Hoover Dam.

The World's Most Dangerous Magic II[edit][]

  • Michael Grandinetti - escaped from between two walls of steel spikes which were lit on fire and set to spring inwards at over 50 mph
  • Dean Gunnarson-Gunnarson escaped suspended upside down hanging from a trapzee bar over a swamp of 130 hungry alligators in the Florida everglades covered in chicken meat and blood.
  • Steve Wyrick - Walked through the spinning blades of a jet turbine engine.
  • Tony Clark - Was chained to the side of a semi-truck filled with explosives and had to escape before a station wagon, which had no brakes, ran him over at 60 mph.
  • Anthony Reed - performed a version of the Aquarian Illusion.
  • Gary Kurtz - Played a deadly game of roulette with four jars, three of which contained rabbits, and one of which contained a monocled cobra.
  • Margo - was shackled inside a coffin which was then filled with over 120 rats.