The Zig-Zag Illusion

14 January 2022

Robert Harbin (1908-1978) stunned the nation on the TV show Sunday Night at the London Palladium in 1965 when assistant Dana Marsh entered this very box and, with her hands and face still visible, was seemingly divided into three by two blades and had her midriff slid to the side. This sensational effect, first presented at a Magic Circle banquet, remains one of the magic world’s most memorable illusions.

The effect was stolen by many and entered The Guinness Book of Records as the most Pirated Magic Trick of all Time. The most famous plagiarism, shortly after Harbin’s TV debut of it, was by American magician Jim Sommers, which may have been a disaster had it not inspired Harbin to license the effect by publishing it in a limited edition book, Magic of Robert Harbin, which was limited to 500 copies when it was published in 1970 before the plates were smashed in a ceremony at The Magic Circle, which now owns the copyright to this valuable volume. Harbin, who received the first Maskelyne  Magician of the Year Award from The Magic Circle in 1970, is rightly revered and considered one of the most important inventors of magic in the past century.

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