June 20, 1941 to May 24, 2007.
Bruce Cervon, one of the world's most respected practitioners of sleight-of-hand card magic and expert entertainer, has died in Ventura, at the age of 65.
Born Andrew Bruce Cernava in Akron, Ohio, on June 20, 1941, Bruce became interested in magic at the age of 7, when his father brought home an armload of used books, among them a volume on magic which fascinated the boy.
As he grew older, he began performing professionally at fairs and outdoor shows throughout Ohio and for various civic clubs throughout the Midwest. He appeared on WOSU-TV, the PBS affiliate in Columbus, in a series of shows on the history of magic.
Once the Magic Castle opened in Hollywood in 1963, Bruce was at the forefront of a wave of talented performers who migrated west to study with the legendary magician known among magic insiders as "the Professor." Dai Vernon. The result of the concentration of magical artists at the Magic Castle in the early 1960s was the birth of a new style of magical performance which combined gambler's sleight-of-hand methods with classic misdirection and conjuring plots, today known as "close-up magic." Bruce meticulously recorded the recollections and methodology of Vernon, workshopping the techniques with his fellow magicians. He later distilled these sessions into a four-volume study of Vernon and his magic, written with Stephen Minch, called "The Vernon Chronicles." His other published works for magician include "The Cervon Files," "Ultra Cervon" and Bruce Cervon's Hard-Boiled Mysteries."
After moving to California, Bruce became an in-demand entertainer for top corporations and high profile celebrity parties, where his outgoing personality and flawless technique continually baffled his superstar audiences. He performed frequently for such notables as Cary Grant, Orson Welles, Jack Benny, Bette Davis, Rosalind Russell, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart and Elvis Presley. He was Johnny Carson's personal selection for the annual "Tonight Show" party, and entertained so many stars over the years that he became known as the "Beverly Hills Magician." Bruce also appeared on every major talk show on television during the 1960s and 1970s, and consulted or performed in countless commercials.
Creator of hundreds of magic tricks and author of more than 30 books and articles on the art of card conjuring, Bruce was the recipient of the Performing Fellowship from the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc. (The Magic Castle) in 1999. His fellow magicians also honored him with the "Lecturer of the Year" award in 1970 and "Close-Up Magician of the Year" awards in 1972 and 1975, along with 21 other award nominations. Dai Vernon himself praised Bruce by saying, "I would place him right at the top with the other ‘greats' in magic."
Bruce Cervon was a member of the Board of Directors of the Academy of Magical Arts from 1976 to 2004 and also served the Academy as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He was also a member of the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the American Guild of Variety Artists, the United Kingdom's Magic Circle and the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.
He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Linda; daughters, Kellee, Marcella; granddaughter, Eloise; sister, Joyce; brother, Gary; his 90-year-old mother, Helen; and thousands of friends and conjuring comrades at the Magic Castle and throughout the world.
No funeral services are planned.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Dai Vernon Fund, c/o The Magic Castle, 7001 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028; and to the American Cancer Society.
Arrangements by Coast Cities Cremations.