Ali Bongo (1929-2009)

Sad news, today. One of the most knowledgeable and recognizable figures in the magic world, Ali Bongo, has passed away. Aside from the major contributions he made to conjuring, Bongo also played an important role in the debunking of pseudo-psychic Uri Geller. From the Telegraph:
Bongo was the first experienced magician publicly to challenge the Israeli-born showman Uri Geller over his supposed psychic powers. Vowing to "put my money where my mouth is", Bongo made an appearance on the Blue Peter programme aiming to recreate Geller's spoon-bending and mind-reading experiments in front of a studio audience using only conventional magic techniques.

The experiment was a muted success – "He didn't break the fork, he only bent it," complained the metallurgist Alistair Brown – but Bongo emerged from the episode as a likeable figure, self-deprecating and generous with his expertise. He had been taken to Geller's hotel by a Daily Mail journalist the previous day in an attempt to force Geller into "proving" his abilities before an expert. The Israeli psychic ordered him out of the building with the words: "I have no time for magicians! What do they know about my powers?"

R.I.P., Ali.


Jim Lippard said...
8:14 AM

There's a nice obit of Ali Bongo in The Economist, March 21, 2009.

Magic Tony said...
9:52 AM

Thanks for the link, Jim. That was very well-written. This was a big loss for the magic community.

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