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It was fifty years ago this month, on October 1, 1960, that the television series The Magic Land of Allakazam first aired over the CBS Television Network. The show was the fulfillment of a long-held dream for 31-year-old Mark Wilson and his wife Nani, the culmination of a five-year struggle to bring television magic to a coast-to-coast national viewing audience for the first time. You’d think a flood of emotion would have been forthcoming, coloring the event and making it stand out for the stars and creative participants. A few extra performance butterflies, perhaps. Maybe a few dozen sleepless nights. But you’d be wrong.
For the young married couple from Texas, it was just another show — just like the scores of other television magic shows they had created, produced, and starred in back in Texas, during a time when the term “syndicated programming” had barely been invented. For instead of shipping prints of kinescopes around the state or the country, Mark and Nani had made a considerable reputation in the southwest by shipping themselves from city to city, presenting their magic shows live on five different TV stations in multiple weekly time slots. Mark had demonstrated time and again that the so-called programming experts were wrong when they said magic wouldn’t work on television. It not only worked, it was a tremendous ratings success.
The road to The Magic Land of Allakazam is a story of talent, determination, patience, perseverance, and a bit of faith. The impact of this fifty-year-old television classic has reverberated throughout the magic world ever since.