Howard Thurston

Howard Thurston was born in Columbus, Ohio, July 20, 1869. He was to become the leading magician in the United States and at one point was acknowledged to be the World's Master on the secrets of magic tricks. This is the story of how he was inspired in his early years, to follow the path that led to this success.

Thurston was inspired as a small boy by Alexander Herrmann, the great magician of that day. Herrman visited Columbus and the young Howard attended the performance. That experience awoke in him a love and enthusiasm for the art of magic that never left him. From that time on, his greatest ambition was to become a magician to follow in the footsteps of the Great Herrman.

As a young man Thurston entered the ministry and intended to become a missionary. By this time he had become an expert amateur conjurer; but had not decided to pursue magic as a career. He attended the Dwight L. Moody School at Mt. Hermon, took the regular Bible courses and immersed himself in his studies. He was also a good athlete setting the record at Mt. Hermon for the hundred yards dash.

After graduation, he set out for Philadelphia, intending to study medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, as he had decided to become a medical missionary. 5 January, 1893, found him in Albany, New York, waiting for a train to New York City. That day was to be a turning point in his career. He discovered that Alexander Herrmann was billed for performance in Albany that evening. He decided to delay his journey so that he could witness the Master Magician one more time. He did so, and found that the charm and mystery of magic intrigued him more than ever.

The next morning, Thurston went to the station and to his surprise and delight saw Herrmann in the waiting room. He heard the magician say the words: "Syracuse, 8.20." Thurston went to the station window, and asked for a ticket to New York, he received one of the greatest surprises of his life. Instead of a ticket to New York, he received one to Syracuse! Acting on impulse of the moment, he abandoned all his plans; kept a ticket that was given to him, and followed Hermann to Syracuse. Did it actually happen like this? Who knows, but it does make a good story and whether it did or didn't happen as related here, the result was that Thurston once again witnessed the Great Magician's performance.

Those two nights of enchanting mystery were deciding factors in the life of Howard Thurston. Instead of continuing his journey to Philadelphia, he returned to Detroit, where his family was living, with a determination to set out upon a career as a magician. One can only guess at how deeply Herrmann’s stage act impacted upon Thurston, but the effect must have been considerable as he abandoned his plans to be a missionary almost overnight.

And the rest as they say is history. Thurston became the leading exponent of the art of conjuring in the United States and indeed the Premier Performing Magician in the world in under a decade. And all because of that chance meeting in the station waiting room. Read more about Thurston's Career.