Bozo the Clown

This morning I received an email from my Dad, telling me some news about one of The Beatles and a magician. Sir Paul McCartney and Herbert L Becker in fact , which led me on a google search and a thirst to want to know more about the magician which was linked to the story I was reading.

You may have seen in the press recently that Texas based company JCPenny (which is a well known department store in the US) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020. Becker’s name has been rumoured around this company in the past when JCPenney was searching for a new CEO in 2013, Becker was one of several people who were potential fits, according to a Huffington Post article at the time.

The New York Post claim that Sir Paul McCartney recently introduced his friend and retail brain, Herbert L. Becker, to the new owners of the bankrupt department store, suggesting him as a candidate for the CEO job. According to the article a brief phone call between Sir Paul’s friend Becker and the new owners of JCPenny have already taken place.

So who is Herbert L Becker?

Herbert L Becker was born on 15th of February 1958 in Hollywood, he became interested in magic at an early age and by 12 years old he was performing at schools, charity events and children’s parties.

His big break came when he was 16 when he landed the role of ABC’s Bozo the Clown, the worlds most famous clown.

Becker went on to perform under the name  “The Kardeen Brothers” with Marc Nicols and he worked solo as “The Great Kardeen”. In 1975 and 1976 he was voted the best American magician by Houdini Magic Magazine.

He helped open the first Guinness Museums, toured with Guinness on Parade and performed at the Steel Pier and Radio City Music Hall (1976) with the Guinness show. He was the opening act for Elton John and Genesis and later bands like Hall & Oats opened for him.

Becker replaced Houdini as the world’s fastest escape artist from a regulation straitjacket in the 1976 edition of the Guinness Book of Records.

Becker retired as a magician in 1978, going on to be the author of a many books, the most famous being the All the Secrets of Magic Revealed: The Tricks and Illusions of the World’s Greatest Magicians, Becker explained how magicians such as Harry Houdini, David Copperfield, Dough Henning and Siegfriend and Roy created some of their most famous illusions. This caused a lot of unhappiness amongst the magic circle, with David Copperfield taking legal action.

Becker caused more upset among magicians when he appeared on the television talk show of Maury Povich in March 1997 and exposed the secrets behind such well-known magic tricks as sawing a person in half.

Becker was also rumoured to be the anonymous Masked Magician who, in a series of Fox TV specials, explained exactly what is behind the tricks of the magic trade. This wasn’t the case. Becker has written Magic Secrets and So That’s How They Do It. Beckers last book published was Magic Hands: Professional Card Trick Secrets Revealed in 2017.

In between a career in magic, entertainment and publishing many books, Becker was a senior executive with the Canadian department store T. Eaton Company Limited, which closed down in 1999. He was also the CEO of an upstate New York department store chain called Patrick Hackett Hardware, which has been defunct for about 15 years. He also ran for the top job of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in 2015, claiming he had decades of business turnaround experience.

So who knows, perhaps JCPenny department stores will have the real life Bozo the Clown running their company very soon!

Carol Cooper

Carol Cooper

Married to Antony, Mum to our children. Full time working in media for over 20 years, part time writer and assistant to Antony, which I guess makes me a magicians assistant :-)


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