8 People Who Died While Performing Magic Tricks

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From blowing yourself up on stage to sword-swallowing gone wrong, we count eight people who tragically died while performing magic tricks!

8 – Sigmund Neuberger,

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  • Sigmund Neuberger, AKA the Great Lafayette, was the highest paid magician of the early 1900s. But even seasoned professionals can make fatal mistakes…
  • One night while Sigmund was performing his signature trick the lamp above his sparked and created a huge fireball. In no time at all the stage became engulfed in flames. This extra terrible for Sigmund because he had locked the side doors to the stage to stop people from learning how his tricks were done. Luckily Sigmund managed to unlock the doors and help the theatre staff escape. He even got out himself – but then he stupidly went back to save his horse and got caught in the flames…
  • The audience thought all this was part of the show and refused to leave. It took the orchestra playing ‘God Save the Queen’ for them to finally get the hint and evacuate. After the terrible tragedy, Sigmund was cremated – along with his poor body double who was trapped under the stage.

7 – Janaka Basnayake,

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  • Janaka Basnayake was so committed to breaking the world record for the longest time spent buried alive that he ended up permanently six feet under.
  • The Sri Lankan had come to America in 2010 to fulfil his dream of being a world-famous magician. Two years later, he roped in a family member to help him perform what should’ve been his biggest trick ever.
  • The family member dug a ten-foot hole for Janaka to lie in. They then covered it up with wood and soil and left him there for seven and half hours. When they dug him up, Janaka had stopped breathing. He was rushed to the hospital, but there was nothing they could do. Definitely don’t try that one at home, kids.

6 – Balabrega,

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  • In the year 1900 the Swedish magician Balabrega met an explosive end while performing in Brazil.
  • He’d planned to blow audience’s faces off with an incredible pyrotechnic illusion called ‘The Moth and the Flame’. Basically six women dressed as moths would disappear into an enormous candle flame. Unfortunately Balabrega couldn’t get his hands on the gas he usually used, so he bought some untested gas-bags of acetylene instead.
  • During the show, one of the untested gas-bag exploded, killing him and one of his assistants instantly. The scene was bloody and gruesome, with blood and body parts landing all over the audience.

5 – Jeff Rayburn Hooper,

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  • In 1984, Jeff Rayburn Hooper attempted an elaborate underwater escape trick but ended up sleeping with the fishes.
  • He was submerged in Winona Lake and swam out a hundred yards from shore. He escaped his homemade shackles in next to time, but his nightmare was just beginning.
  • Jeff picked a really crappy day to take a swim in the lake. The winds were very strong, which made it impossible to swim to shore. He tried calling for help but his assistant couldn’t hear him. His audience saw that he’d managed to free himself and assumed he was fine. By the time they realised he was in trouble it was too late. The wind prevented them from reaching him in time and he drowned in six feet of water.

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