My Brush with Alfred Hitchcock and Harry Houdini.
Since the early 80s one of my closest friends has been the incredibly talented writer and producer Michael Sloan. Though Michael has written and produced movies and West End stage shows, he is probably most famous for his contribution to the medium of television. He is one of television’s classiest talents and finest gentlemen.
Sloan has nearly 300 hours of network television to his credit including the creation of iconic series ‘The Equalizer.’ This year will see the return of the Equalizer as a major motion picture starring Denzel Washington in the title role. The TV series starred the great English actor Edward Woodward, and Michael’s beautiful and talented wife Melissa Anderson as his daughter.
My favorite holiday will always be Halloween 1987 when Michael gave me the best Halloween ‘treat’ I ever received. I had been presenting a special event at ‘Carlos & Charlie’s’ nightclub on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, and just after I finished the show, Michael casually handed me a manila envelope containing a script.
The script was for an episode of ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents,’ Universal Studios revival of the classic television series. The episode was called ‘Houdini on Channel 4’ and it was written for, and about, me. In fact my character practically never left the screen. He got to solve a kidnapping case, channel Houdini, die and come back from the dead bringing Houdini with him. I also got to perform some really neat magic while doing all of the above!
To say I was excited is a gigantic understatement. I had been featured in quite a few TV shows before, but never in a serious starring role. Had I realized what an intense experience it would be, and the extent to which it would stretch my ‘drama school acting skills’ I would probably have been more nervous than excited. Fortunately Michael was on hand to guide me through the shooting of his script.
Sloan added a couple of special treats to the episode especially for magic buffs and they hugely benefited the impact of the episode. The production licensed some rarely seen Houdini footage from the Manny Weltman archives which was featured to fine effect in the production. It was really great to find myself onscreen working side by side with my childhood hero.
The second surprise that Michael included in the episode was in regard to the secret Houdini shrine/séance room created by my character in the storyline. With a lavish touch of authenticity, all the Houdini memorabilia that festooned my séance room actually belonged to Houdini himself. It had been shipped to Toronto from Abb Dickson’s collection in Atlanta, under the supervision of Mike Russo.
It was a blast to participate in such a beautifully mounted production and truly a career highlight. Michael featured two of my favorite routines into the show and shot them with a care that is seldom seen in these circumstances. The show opens with the levitation that I featured in my illusion show and also includes highlights from a close-up routine that I created for my Magic Castle show. I even got to talk a little speculative quantum mechanics, which was a feature in ‘Quantum Magic’ show. All these interludes were near and dear to my heart.
I will always be grateful to Michael Sloan for his kindness and consideration in creating and ensuring that this show took place in the manner in which it did. Michael and I would go on to work together on ‘Kung Fu—the Legend Continues,’ but this will always be one of the most special moments in my magical journey.
If you would like to watch the episode I have just placed it on my website and you can find it at
I’ve been getting some great reactions since the release of my ‘Ultimate Linking Finger Ring Routine’ and would love you to read about them. Check out my blog and web sites.