Fred Kaps (1926 - 1980)
Abraham Pieter Adrianus Bongers
Bram, formally known as Valdini, Mystica.
Place of Birth
Kaps possessed the uncanny ability of sleight-of-hand prowess. He was a specialist in the field of close-up and stage conjuration.
Kaps' signature effects were the "Long Pour Salt" trick, and his famous "Dancing & Floating Cork" effect.
On December 1950, Bram Bongers, changed his stagename to Fred Kaps. His new name was discovered while thumbing through the phone book. Bram and his agent found an advertisement for raincoats made by a company named Daks. From there they developed the word Kaps, and shortly after - Fred Kaps.
Fred Kaps was born Abraham Pieter Adrianus Bongers in Utrecht, Netherlands on June 8, 1926.
He grew interested in magic through performances by local hairdresser and amateur magician Piet Verschragen, who often tried effects on his customers.
Kaps would frequent the shop often, learn tricks, then rush home and practice until he knew how to perform these effects himself.
He continued this back and forth process of hair cutting and magic learning for quite a while.
While practicing each new magic trick that the barber taught him, Bram also fell for the barber's daughter, Nel, whom he later married.
In secondary school, Bram showed his classmates his magic tricks, which was usually at the wrong time. His teacher would confiscate the tricks and put them in his drawer. Bram's father was very displeased.
At the age of nine, Bram collected coupons on oatmeal packages and sent away for a box of magic tricks. After finishing his high school education, Bram thought about becoming a cook like his brother.
His father wanted him to work as an artist in advertising, but Bram's passion for magic took precedence and he wanted to turn his hobby into a career.
Using the name Valdini, he performed at weddings and parties and as Mystica he performed for Dutch soldiers. When he had to serve in the military himself, he was put into the "cabaret group."
He went to Indonesia where he retained his passion for magic through several performances.
He greatly admired American magician Channing Pollock as well as Italian magician Chefalo and German magician Kalanag.
Bram worked with him for about one month. Kalanag wanted him to take over the show. It just didn’t work out for him. It seemed that the big trunks, the crates, and large illusions just didn’t suit him. Bram favored the smaller props.
After his time in the military it was hard for him to get a job. However, all that would change when Mystica entered a competition called FISM, in Barcelona, 1950. He won the Grand Prix, a magic world championship, which was the start of his successful worldwide performances.
His award-winning performance also landed him television appearances, including the unenviable job of following the Beatles when they made their debut appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" February 9, 1964. Some 73 million viewers tuned in to watch Kaps work his magic.
Fred Kaps continued to performed for the royal families of both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
He was a protégé of Henk Vermeyden, the owner of a magic studio in Amsterdam, who also trained several other world champions. Henk was Mystica's agent, director and coach. He also aided Mystica with his new stage name: Fred Kaps.
Kaps went on to become national magic champion twice in Arnhem 1950 and Enschede (1959) and he was the first person to win the world championship three times in Barcelona (1950), Amsterdam (1955) and Liège (1961).
Along with his appearance (spotless suit and white shirt), sleight of hand was Kaps' trademark. He would practice an effect for weeks before he dared to perform it live.
In March 1980, Kaps was honored with a Master Fellowship of the Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood. During that same time, it was made public that he was suffering from cancer.
He battled it the best he could, but on July 23, 1980, Bram Bongers better known to the world as Fred Kaps died. He was a month shy of his 54th birthday. He left a wife, a mother, and two daughters.
During a closed party on March 9, 2005, a memorial was revealed in front of the house in Utrecht were he used to live, to honor Kaps' contributions to magic.
He was called "World's Greatest Magician" in 1972 by George Anderson. This is a widely shared opinion. In 1980 he received the AMA Masters Fellowship as well as being inducted in the SAM Hall of Fame.
His approach to his work is indicated in his contributions to 'The Gen' and Lewis Ganson's 'Routined Manipulation Finale,' and also through a few routines which were marked by Ken Brooke.
Information, courtesy of Wikipedia, MagicPedia, Encyclopedia of Magic and Magicians.
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For more information, visit Fred Kaps.com
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