Alan Alan made his mark on magic history with his breathtaking, dangerous escape stunts. Born just days after Houdini died, Alan seemed to have the same gift for creating excitement in the press.
One of his first big escape stunts in 1949 went very badly wrong. Filming for Pathé News, he attempted to escape from a freshly dug grave. When minutes passed and he failed to emerge, the onlookers shoveled him out, on film (see video clip at left). He nevertheless continued to perform, gaining more and more fame and trying more spectacular stunts throughout the 1950's.
In 1949, he dreamed up the stunt he is most known for- being tied up in a straitjacket and hung upside down from a burning rope. Though often imitated, Alan was the first to add fire to the upside-down rope escape that was one of Houdini's signature stunts.
Throughout his career, Alan performed a number of variations of this dangerous escape, including being hoisted above a cage full of lions, or being suspended above a row of pointed swords. And all did not always go as planned. He had several accidents in which the rope snapped and he tumbled to the ground, though he was never seriously injured.
His stage shows, though, were a terrific mixture of comedy and suspense. A small man, Alan would choose a large man from the audience to come onstage to tie him up. He would then make a comedy routine out of it, with the poor man trying to properly tie a squirming, energetic Alan. After being tied, though, Alan would change the mood and get gasps from the audience as he was hoisted, upside down, high above the stage by a rope- that would be set on fire, giving Alan mere seconds to escape or risk being suddenly dropped to the stage below.
Alan was also a talented closeup magician. In fact, he invented a number of clever effects, including Decimated Coin (included in Volume 7 of the Tarbell Course and the Sharpshooter card effect.
He retired from show business to operate a popular magic shop called Alan Alan's Magic Spot, located in London. The shop closed in 1996.
Credit: This biography originated on MagicTricks.com. Please credit this source if you use this information.