LOS ANGELES - Glenn Falkenstein, a renowned mentalist who came to fame in the early 1970s when he was a staple at the Magic Castle in Hollywood and hosted his own Los Angeles call-in radio show, has died. He was 78.
Falkenstein, a former longtime Los Angeles resident who had struggled with Alzheimer's disease since 2006, died July 4, several days after entering a memory-care unit at an assisted-living facility in San Antonio, said his wife and performing partner, Frances Willard.
"He was the consummate showman, a showman of the old school," said magician David Charvet, who hosted a memorial for Falkenstein at the Magic Castle last Sunday. "The things he did were baffling, certainly, even to many magicians."
A fast-paced, dynamic performer with crisp diction, Falkenstein was known for a blindfold mind-reading act, which he performed around the world, including Las Vegas and on "The Tonight Show."
With half-dollars secured over each eye with adhesive tape and wearing a curved steel mask, Falkenstein would pick up a card that had an audience member's name and a question written on it, crumple it and hold it over his head.
He'd then answer the question on the card and recite the participant's Social Security number or address, give the maiden name of the person's mother and answer personal questions they were thinking such as naming a favorite food or movie.
In 1972, Falkenstein was named Stage Magician of the Year by the Academy of Magical Arts, the parent organization of the Magic Castle. He has performed for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
He was born Feb. 3, 1932, and his first career was as a speech pathologist for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. He also is survived by daughter Cathleen Yeisley; stepchildren Aaron Tucker, Hannah Ammar and Margo Timon; sister Dale Myerson; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.