Channing Pollock (1926-2006)


Real Name

Channing Pollock


Billed "The most beautiful man in the world"


Magician, Actor

Place of Birth

Sacramento, California, USA








Channing possessed the superior ability in art of card magic, and of magic featuring doves, which he almost single-handedly created.

Interesting Fact

Pollock received his unusual name after his mother, pregnant with Pollock, met the famed Broadway playwright and essayist Channing Pollock. As Pollock told the story, it was the playwright himself who suggested naming the new baby "Channing."


Channing pollock was born August 16, 1926, in Sacramento, California.

He first became interested in magic at the age of 21 after seeing a demonstration of a svengali deck (a specially designed pack of magician's cards) and was further inspired by the work of Lee Grabel, a celebrated American magician of the time.

After seeing an advertisement for a "College of Manual Dexterity," Pollock trained at the Chavez School of Magic in Los Angeles, graduating in 1952.

In order to become a professional magician he bought himself a pigeon and a rabbit as props.

The pigeon was soon returned to the pet shop after Pollock realised that it was "about four times the size of a dove and totally unsuitable for a magic act." He then replaced it with two doves and began honing his skills.

Pollock's early work as a magician was on the nightclub circuit, where his talents were enhanced by his good looks and air of sophistication (although he would later admit that his stage image owed more to fear than breeding).

His career took off in 1954 after he was featured on the Ed Sullivan Show, and he went on to make several appearances at the London Palladium.

He was a master of illusion and performed an exquisite sleight-of-hand with playing cards and red silk handkerchiefs.

But it was the dove act that always drew the most gasps from his audiences. He would simply toss a dove into the air, then, with a waft of his hand, the bird would be transformed into a white silk handkerchief.

Pollock was highly regarded in the magicians' fraternity, not least for the care that he showed towards his birds and his high standards of showmanship.

The magician James Randi once recalled his misfortune at having to follow Pollock's appearance at one of the annual Magic Circle shows at the Scala Theatre in London.

"It was," said Randi, "an unenviable situation to face, walking out to greet an audience so blown away by Channing's tour de force that they could not quite recover. It was like following God."

Lance Burton, now regarded as one of the greatest magicians in America, was also inspired by watching Pollock, who in turn described Burton as "the epitome of the perfect magician."

By the mid-1950s Channing Pollock was unsurpassed in his field, and he had spawned a great many imitators.

But his act was unique, and the excitement in his routine was so tied up with his own personality (he always made a point of never smiling until he was taking his final bow) that copyists were never as good.

He appeared at cabaret venues and in special shows all over the world, performing for President Eisenhower, the Queen and at the wedding of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly. At the height of his career he was one of America's highest-paid entertainers.

In 1959 his act was seen in the film Europe by Night, and the following year he decided to give up his career as a magician to become an actor.

He went on to appear in a number of thrillers and dramas, including Moschettieri del mare (1960), wth Aldo Ray and Pier Angeli; Rocambole (1962); Sceicco rosso (1962); and Judex (1963), in which he played the romantic lead.

He also appeared on several American variety shows, including Bonanza, Daniel Boone and The Beverly Hillbillies.

In 1969 he abandoned showbusiness entirely, and he and his wife set up an organic farm at Moss Beach, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

He continued, however, to act as a friend and mentor to many aspiring magicians.

He gave his own act, including his birds, to his chauffeur, who went on performing for several years as Franklin and his Doves.

In 2000 Pollock was asked what the true secrets of magic really were. They lie, he said, "in the mind, the heart, the body and the soul".

Channing Pollock, died on March 18, 2006, in Las Vegas from complications due to cancer at the age of 79. He is survived by his wife and a son.

Information credit:, Wikipedia, New York Sun; Author: Stephen Miller.

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