B2 Reading Multiple Matching Exam 9
(A) Derren Brown
Derren Brown is a British illusionist, mentalist, trickster, hypnotist, painter, writer, and sceptic. He is known for his appearances in television specials, stage productions, and British television series such as Trick of the Mind and Trick or Treat. Though his performances of mind-reading and other feats of mentalism may appear to be the result of psychic or paranormal practices, he claims no such abilities and frequently denounces those who do. Brown states at the beginning of his Trick of the Mind programmes that he achieves his results using a combination of "suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship".
Brown was born to Bob and Chris Brown in Purley, Croydon, London, England. He has a brother, who is nine years his junior. Brown was privately educated at Whitgift School in South Croydon (where his father coached swimming), and studied Law and German at the University of Bristol. While there, he attended a hypnotist show by Martin Taylor, which inspired him to turn to illusion and hypnosis as a career. Whilst an undergraduate, he started working as a conjuror, performing the traditional skills of close-up magic in bars and restaurants. In 1992, he started performing stage shows at the University of Bristol under the stage name Darren V. Brown.
Brown was an Evangelical Christian in his teens, and became an atheist in his twenties. Brown said he sought to strengthen his belief and provide answers to common criticisms of religion by reading the Bible and other Christian religious texts, but upon doing so found none of the answers he sought and came to the conclusion that his belief had no basis.
(B) Joseph Dunninger
Dunninger was born in New York City. He headlined throughout the Keith-Orpheum Circuit, and was much in demand for private entertainment. At the age of seventeen he was invited to perform at the home of Theodore Roosevelt in Oyster Bay and at the home of the inventor Thomas A. Edison, both of whom were avid admirers of his mysticism.
Dunninger was a debunker of fraudulent mediums. He claimed to replicate through trickery all spiritualist phenomena. He wrote the book Inside the Medium's Cabinet which exposed the tricks of mediumship. He also exposed how the indian rope trick could be performed by camera trickery.
Dunninger had a standing offer of $10,000 to anyone who could prove that he used paid assistants for his tricks. He often said he could raise that offer to $100,000. Through Scientific American magazine and the Universal Council for Psychic Research, Dunninger made this offer to any medium who could produce by psychic or supernatural means any physical phenomena that he could not reproduce by natural means. Dunninger appeared on radio starting in 1943, and on television frequently in the 1950s and 60s.
(C) Harry Houdini
He began his magic career in 1891. At the outset, he had little success. He performed in sideshows, and even doubled as "The Wild Man" at a circus. Houdini focused initially on traditional card tricks. At one point, he billed himself as the "King of Cards". But he soon began experimenting with escape acts.
In 1893, while performing with his brother, Dash, at Coney Island as "The Brothers Houdini", Harry met a fellow performer, Wilhelmina Beatrice "Bess" Rahner. She and Houdini married in 1894, with Bess replacing Dash in the act, which became known as "The Houdinis." For the rest of Houdini's performing career, Bess would work as his stage assistant.
Houdini's big break came in 1899 when he met manager Martin Beck in rural Woodstock, Illinois. Impressed by Houdini's handcuffs act, Beck advised him to concentrate on escape acts and booked him on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit. Within months, he was performing at the top vaudeville houses in the country. In 1900, Beck arranged for Houdini to tour Europe. After some days of unsuccessful interviews in London, Houdini managed to interest Dundas Slater, then manager of the Alhambra Theatre. He gave a demonstration of escape from handcuffs at Scotland Yard, and succeeded in baffling the police so effectively that he was booked at the Alhambra for six months.