Maurice Fogel. The master showman dodges the bullet!

The Amazing FogelI think that the greatest showman that I have witnessed performing magic was Maurice Fogel. Maurice or to give him his correct name ‘The Amazing Fogel’ was a giant in the world of mentalism and magic. Maybe not in stature, but definitely as a performer, Fogel towered above all but a handful of magicians.

I first saw Maurice perform in England at the Conway Hall. Later on I got to meet him, work with him and enjoy his lively company as a houseguest. One day I suddenly realized we had become friends and I felt very proud. He taught me a great deal. If I had to pick the one piece of magic that Maurice performed that displayed his formidable powers as a showman it would be his bullet catch routine. He turned it into an exercise in showmanship.

In typical Fogel style, Maurice didn’t perform the bullet catch like any other performer. To begin with he didn’t actually catch the bullet between his teeth or in a plate. He very astutely came up with a plan to take a dramatic effect and make it even more theatrical. Fogel realized that the key to the trick was the danger involved in watching a performer risk his life by having a gun aimed at him and then fired. Maurice upped the odds by using six rifles in his routine. Five rifles contained genuine bullets and one had no bullet in it.

The rifles were mixed up and one of them was chosen at random (Yeah, in a magic act!) and this rifle was to be fired directly at Fogel’s Maurice Fogelheart. The remaining rifles were aimed at plates on a rack behind Maurice. Catch the subtlety there because the finale (Or should I say Prestige–lol) of the effect consisted of an earsplitting volley of rifle fire and the destruction of 5 plates clattering onto the stage.

Best of all was the way Maurice sold the trick to his audience. Once the effect was set up and the audience was ready to see whether he would survive the ordeal was when the genius of Fogel the showman took over. Just as the rifles were aimed at Fogel and the tension was mounting to a high pitch, he would abruptly stop the action and step forward to address the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen” he would say, “It occurs to me that in a few moments I may be lying dead or dying on the floor, unable to hear your reaction. Would it be presumptuous of me to ask to hear your applause now?”

Needless to say the audience responded with a wild round of applause. “Thank You” said Fogel, “Then if that was your applause for a brave and gallant looser, may I assume that if I should succeed then the applause would be twice as loud!”




No sooner had the applause and laughter died down before Fogel returned to the original drama and the firearms were re-aimed at him. After a short countdown the rifles roared into life, plates crashed to the ground and Fogel staggered! He just staggered just long enough to cause the more sensitive spectators to gasp before Maurice recovered and took his applause.

Needless to say when the audience realized that Fogel was unharmed their applause raised the roof. That was the kind of brilliant showmanship that put Maurice in a league of his own. No wonder he was known as the Amazing Fogel!

Here is some Pathé News footage of Maurice performing the bullet catch.


~ by Nick Lewin on March 2, 2013.

One Response to “Maurice Fogel. The master showman dodges the bullet!”

  1. Maurice was a friend of our parents, Uncle Maurice to us. Growing up in the 1960s before children had keeping up with and outdoing the Joneses parties, Maurice would often perform magic tricks for our entertainment. My favourite was when he ‘magicked’ sweets into a bowl. However my little sister was watching him too closely one day and ruined one of his card tricks. I think my late mum kept in touch with his widow for some years after his death, and I believe that their daughter, Nadine, moved to the Channel Islands.

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