James Randi: Magician and sceptic dies aged 92

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One of the best known magicians in the entertainment industry, James Randi, famous for exposing claimants of the paranormal, has died in the US aged 92.

Known by just his surname, Canadian-born Randi earned a reputation as one of the world’s foremost sceptics of matters from ghosts to UFOs.

His performances inspired legions of admirers, including the likes of TV and stage illusionists Penn & Teller.

“I can’t type through tears… You invented us,” tweeted Penn Jillette.

Randall James Zwinge was born in Toronto, Canada in 1928.

His career as a magician saw him escape from a straightjacket while hanging upside down over Niagara Falls.

He also joined rock star Alice Cooper on tour in the early 1970s, carrying out fake executions of the singer on stage.

But Randi always reminded his audiences that his acts were based on tricks and not magic, and soon turned his attention to debunking claims by others who claimed paranormal powers.

In 1972, he helped the US network NBC’s Tonight Show prepare for an appearance by Uri Geller, the illusionist best known for bending spoons.

With neither Geller nor his team able to access the props in advance, the magician failed to carry out any tricks – although the attention from Randi and other sceptics did nothing to harm his career.

Randi also exposed faith healers, including televangelist Peter Popoff, who claimed to be receiving messages from God about his audience but was actually wearing an earpiece.

The magician’s own foundation went on to offer an award of $1m (£750,000) to anyone who could prove paranormal powers under controlled conditions. However, by the time of Randi’s retirement from the foundation in 2015, the amount had still not been claimed.

Randi is survived by his husband Deyvi Peña, whom he married in 2013.

BBC

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