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R.I.P. Paul Osborne – Magician, Producer and Illusion Designer


paul-osborne-2If you were to ask a non-magician to describe what they think a magic show should look like, most likely they would describe a magician and an assistant with large elaborate boxes and props onstage. If you were to ask that same person where that magician and that assistant got their training, or where those boxes and props came from they would certainly have no idea.

Most magicians however know the names of those creative minds that helped developed those magicians and those props and today we lost one of those giants. His name was Paul Osborne. Paul was a great illustrator and designer who also understood how props and performer were intertwined. He understood all of this because he was also an accomplished magician and performer himself.
paul-osborne-illustration-3Paul Osborne became a magic legend. As a producer, director and writer he brought the concept of family magic and illusion shows to theme parks around the world. He also worked on shows for many other variety acts. Many of today’s top magicians got their start in show business as an act on one of Paul Osborne’s productions. His career also spanned decades of work on TV shows, live performances and behind the scenes work.

paul-osborne-young-2He’s consulted and designed illusions for David Copperfield, David Blaine and a host of other top magicians. Within the magic community, most magazine readers will recognize his name from GENII, MAGIC and M-U-M where he would share distinctive artwork that detailed how to build illusions. Many of these plans became part of his Osborne Illusion Systems books and plans.

Born in 1949, Paul’s magical career began at age 5 in Dallas, Texas when a local magician named Mark Wilson performed at his birthday party and gave him his TV Magic Kit. Mark Wilson had a local television show called “Time For Magic”. Of course, Mark soon became one of the biggest names in the art of magic.

paul-osborne-and-bozoPaul stayed with magic and he performed professionally through his High School and college years. He was awarded Best Club Act and Best Act trophies at the Texas Association of Magicians convention in Corpus Christi. After college he became a Disc Jockey and played “The Ring Master” on THE BOZO SHOW.
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In 1973 he formed Paul Osborne and Associates and designed shows for Six Flags, Disneyland, Cypress Gardens, Great Adventure and many other theme parks across North America. Soon these shows would be produced all over the world. They specialized in creating characters, designing the costumes, puppets, magic show props and sets. In other words, they were “turnkey specialists” for the world’s top destinations. They also designed props, sets and illusions for Broadway productions and many network television specials.

illussysfullsetThroughout the years Paul remained in Dallas inspiring magicians and illusionists world-wide to step up their game and to move the art of magic forward. He was mentor, idol and the one person that many of today’s entertainers looked up to when it comes to magic.

paul-osborne-1According to reports, Paul suffered from a sudden and unexpected cerebral hemorrhage this morning and never regained consciousness. He is survived by his amazing wife Michelle. Osborne Illusion systems posted the following notice on their website. “Please rest assured that Illusion Systems will continue to exist and operate as we always have in spite of the sudden and untimely passing of our creator, Paul Osborne. We will continue to endeavor to bring you the same quality product that we always have.”

D Magazine did a wonderful article on Paul in 2012. To read that article, please CLICK HERE.

Ventriloquist Jay Johnson published a brilliant memorial for Paul this morning. To read it please CLICK HERE.

  1. We at Wacky Zack’s Magic send our condolences to the Osborne family and magic community. As one who has bought and still own many of Mr. Osborne’s designs and books it would have been really cool to have met him. His name is frequently mentioned in my shop and will continue to be mentioned with fondness and admiration. RIP Mr. Osborne…

  2. rand woodbury says:

    I am in shock and so very, very sad. As I told Michelle, “Paul was a champion for those who really wanted to succeed in magic.” I believe that was just one of his rare, wonderful gifts. Magic has lost one of it’s great people. It was truly my privilege and pleasure to call him a friend.

  3. R.I.P Paul Osborn, a Legend to many in magic including myself, whos books will live on and help generations of magicians to come as in the past, a sad day in Magic with the passing of a great.
    Carl de Rome Norway and The United Kingdom

  4. I am so sorry to hear of Paul’s passing. In my mind and many others I’m sure, Paul was and will always be the most respected man when it comes to Stage Illusions. He did more for The World of Magic than any other creator I know! My Prayers are with you Michelle! God Bless !

  5. Fr. Jim Harvey says:

    I had the great pleasure of working as one of Paul’s Amusement Park character-magicians in 1977-1978. It was my first job and getting to meet Paul was one of the best things that ever happened to me. What a kind, super-energetic, creative and passionate man. His natural talent as a generous mentor impacted and influenced me for life. I was blessed again by him a couple years ago when we reconnected over some props I had purchased. A little mix up resulted in us having a joyful and precious conversation, catching up and talking about the early days of PAUL OSBORNE & ASSOCIATES. A few days later, Paul sent me an small prop as a gift to remind me of my MERLIN RAINBOW days. What a wonderful and giving soul. My heart-felt condolences to the Osborne family, and to his magic family and friends. Love & Prayers.

  6. Tears tears tears… nothing more to say.. Paul was my promotor for the USA and together we made it happen that i’m on Masters of Illusion.

    Rest in peace little crazy magic man… We’ll meet again….

    Big kiss Sittah
    Sittah Illusions

  7. I hoped it wasn’t true. Now I can’t rub two thoughts together without crying. Paul with his associates opened my eyes to the business that became my life’s work. I worked for and was in awe of Paul Osborne in the 70s. I am loosing it remembering the overwhelming feeling of joy my first day of working at such a creative, paying job. We built illusions, puppets, museum sculptures,shows… They let me hire and work with pros and turned us loose. Over the years of costumes, props and crazy schemes Paul brought myself and my family business, humor and great advice. We were working on a children’s book together. The wind is out of my sails. I never told him how much I loved him or how much he means to me.

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