In 1963 he founded the world famous private club for magicians, the Magic Castle in Hollywood. He is the President of Magic Castles, Inc. In the year 2000 Magic Magazine polled their international readership and voted Milt Larsen as one of the 100 most influential individuals in the history of magic. He is a true renaissance man in that his career encompasses writing, producing and performing.
As a writer he is best known in the field of audience participation having written Truth or Consequences starring Bob Barker for an incredible run of eighteen years! In his early days he authored five joke books and three books involving Magic Castle. He writes a weekly column for members of the club as well as editing their monthly newsletter.
In the songwriting field the team of Sherman and Larsen have a cult comedy following for their outrageous songs (for their time) that can be heard currently on CD’s “Bon Voyage Titanic – Smash Flops” and “Banned Barbershop Ballads. He has written many stage revues and musicals. A new musical, “Pazzazz” Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Milt Larsen, enjoyed a full-scale premiere production at the University of Texas in Arlington, Texas. It will have its world premiere at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theater March 27-30, 2008.
His collaborator is Richard M. Sherman who has won two Academy Awards (Mary Poppins song and score) and eight Oscar nominations. He is a member of the songwriter’s Hall of Fame and currently has two major stage hits “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in London and “Mary Poppins” in London and on Broadway. The Sherman Brothers also were honored with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
As a producer, in addition to The Magic Castle and It’s Magic! Larsen owned and operated to Mayfair Music Hall in Santa Monica producing live stage revues for 10 years and the Variety Arts Theater, a 1200 seat variety theater in downtown Los Angeles for 12 years. He has produced TV special for ABC, CBS and NBC. He was the creator and consultant for the fifty million dollar Caesars Magic Empire at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
As a performer he is an active member of SAG and AFTRA and has been seen yanking tablecloths in films and commercials. He has been the opening act for The Amazing Johnathan in Las Vegas. He has been a lecturer at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and magic conventions in America, Mexico, Europe and Japan.
On radio, for several years Larsen was the Monday morning guest on Ron “The Baron” Herrons popular KZBN 1290 AM Breakfast Club Show in Santa Barbara. This led to his creating a weekly radio feature “HEAR THEM AGAIN – for the first time”- featuring recordings from the first half of the twentieth century. The show is now heard on CRN the Digital Cable Network coast to coast Saturday morning at 6-7 AM and Sunday at 4-5 P.M. TV Channel 946. www.CRNTALK.COM. The show is also heard worldwide Saturday afternoons at 4:30-5:30 on Satellite radio www.yesterdayUSA.com
Milt Larsen lives on Santa Barbara’s picturesque Mesa overlooking the Harbor with his wife, award winning costume designer Arlene, and their two lovable mutts, Angel and Wizard.
IN ADDITION TO HIS OTHER INTERESTS Milt Larsen is a well-known theatre historian and record collector. Many consider the closing of the famed Palace Theater in New York in 1932 as the final curtain for vaudeville. At that time Milt was only one year old. He became interested in the vaudeville era as a kid and loved talking to as many of the “old-timers” still around at the time. He was an aspiring comedy writer and was fascinated by the comedians of the past. He started collecting recordings of showbusiness personalities as a teenager. His hobby grew into a passion and his collection of thousands of vintage 78’s and LP’s is a treasure trove of variety history.
Through his magical family he met and got to know famous people who were stars long before he was born. Working as a writer for Ralph Edwards TV Productions he was often called upon to keep subjects of his “This Is Your Life” TV show occupied while the production team set up their surprise for the subject. Edwards knew his young writer was enamored with the older stars and enjoyed talking to them. Thus Milt entertained legends like Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel, Ed Wynn, Mack Sennett, George Burns, Jack Benny and many others. While still in High School he worked as a record archivist for Eddie Cantor. Veteran stars Milton Berle, Bob Hope, Buddy Ebsen and Steve Allen often called upon Larsen for his consultation on songs and variety acts.
He has always loved radio and his first job as a professional writer was with the ABC Radio network. It was a daytime audience participation show with variety acts and a 25-piece house orchestra. While still a teenager he was the weekly guest with radio personality Jim Hawthorne on a CBS radio program that featured milt’s old records and commentary by CBS founder Andrew White.
His weekend national radio shows recorded in his studio on the premises of the Magic Castle in Hollywood. His facilities house his huge record collection and his studio is designed specifically to play the old 78-RPM vintage recordings. His studio console turntables were originally installed at the NBC Radio City studios at Sunset and Vice in Hollywood. The shows are recorded using the newest state of the art MAC computer technology which includes to ability to clean up the snap, crackles and pops associated with the old records.
The concept of the show is that younger generations have never heard samples of the great performers of the past. Like an old joke, if you never heard it before --- it’s brand new with that in mind he leads you down the path to discovery. He introduces young people of today to a time of laughter and silly songs mixed in with some of the greatest music of all time. Oscar winning songwriter Richard M. Sherman (The Sherman Brothers – Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, It’s a small World After All etc) is a guest on every show talking about the great songwriters of Tin Pan Alley. His other guest is a character known as Professor Hockmann, the world’s oldest magician and vaudevillian who always plays just one of those really old acoustical records from Milt’s collection.