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Norman Bigelow Passes Away


Norman BigelowNorman Bigelow, the retired escape artist who billed himself as “The World Master Escape Artist” Passed away August 16th after a long fight with leukemia. According to his wife Janet, he was comfortable, without pain and at home where he wanted to be. He was aware and pleased that he got to see many friends and family members and felt loved.

Bigelow performed for years as one of America’s leading escape artists. His unique style was avant garde and revolutionary, breathing fresh life into a field that was worn out from its Vaudeville heyday.

He was a locksmith, safesmith and wood-worker, created and built most of his effects. As a teen-ager, he was an apprentice to the Great Reno (Frank Renaud), a vaudeville style escape artist. He started performing escapes at colleges in 1972 with Irv Weiner doing an opening magic act.

Here is a video of Bigelow performing The Doors of Death.

Here is a video of Norman Bigelow on the show To Tell The Truth.
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For years Bigelow’s act consisted of three main escapes: Trial by Fire, The Straight Jacket Escape and The Doors of Death.

Norman Bigelow 2In Trial By Fire he would be handcuffed to a table before a ramp of gunpowder leading up to his face. He had to pick his way out of the cuffs in full view while the lit gunpowder flared across the stage before it finally exploded in a ball of fire. The Straitjacket escape performed on the floor, although sometimes suspended when facilities permitted. The Doors of Death was originally called “Torture Board”.

Bigelow conceived numerous escape concepts including the idea to escape from a safe placed in a building about to be demolished which was provided to David Copperfield for his television special.

Norman also wrote books on magic and escapes as well as articles for several magazines including Genii, MUM, The Illusionist and Escapism.

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