The Magician was a U.S. television series that ran during
the 1973-1974 season. It starred Bill Bixby as stage illusionist Anthony
"Tony" Blake, a playboy philanthropist who used his skills to
solve difficult crimes as needed. In the series pilot, the character was
instead named Anthony Dorian. No explanation for the name change was ever
Tony Blake was a professional stage magician who used his skills to
solve crimes and help the helpless. Years earlier, Tony had been unjustly
confined in a prison in an unnamed country in South America. He discovered
a way to escape, which began his interest in escapology. This in turn led
to a career in stage magic which made Tony rich and famous. He never
forgot his imprisonment, and it motivated him to seek justice for others.
Initially, Tony was based out of his privately owned Boeing
737, which was outfitted as a mobile residence. Midway through the
program's run, the idea of the airplane was dropped and he began to live
in a posh apartment at The Magic Castle, a real club devoted to magic
acts. At the same time, the supporting cast of the show was replaced with
a new supporting cast. No explanation for the changes was given in the
The show is noteworthy in that Bixby insisted on doing all of the magic
himself, without any trick photography. In addition to escapes, Bixby
performed feats of sleight of hand, mentalism, and large illusions.
Though it ran only a single season, The Magician was an
influence on later series. The show was a favorite of The X-Files creator
Chris Carter, who worked it into Special Agent Fox Mulder's
"origin" story: a teenaged Mulder was watching The Magician
when his sister Samantha was abducted by mysterious forces.
The series, although unsuccessful, featured Bixby (who was an amateur
magician himself) perform many of his own illusions. This led to a series
of magical specials on NBC, hosted by Bixby himself.
Anthony Blake is one in a surprisingly long line of magicians who
double as detectives. Others include:
- The Great Merlini, created by author Clayton Rawson.
- Norgil, created by Walter B. Gibson.
- Chandu, a character in radio mysteries who was played on screen by
- Mandrake the Magician, a comic strip hero created by Lee Falk.
Unlike most crime-solving magicians, Mandrake is sometimes presented
as having actual magical powers.
- Harry Blacke, the hero of the 1986 television series Blacke's Magic.
Blacke was played by actor Hal Linden.