Remembering Comedy Magic Great – Ali Bongo

Comedy Magician - ALI BONGO

Thank You for the Laughter Ali Bongo 1929-2009

Ali Bongo was one of the world’s funniest magicians. His act was based on his character, “The Shriek of Araby.”  He has had me in stitches many times over the years. His zany comic style coupled with his original approach make for a magical feast for the eyes.

It is reported that Ali Bongo suffered a stroke just before he was about to present a lecture in Paris during the last week of January. Complications made things worse until he passeds away on March 8, 2009.

He was born William Oliver Wallace in Bangalore, India on December 8, 1929, and grew up in Kent, England.

He was a wildly funny entertainer and a creator of many unusual tricks and illusions.  He marketed his first invention at age 16. Among his many inventions was his variation of the Lu Brent “Growing Hat”. He wrote columns which appeared in “The Magic Circular” over the years. I also enjoyed his column in the Magic Magazine for the Society of American Magicians – M.U.M. He wrote several books with his amazing inventions.  I remember the amazing blooming bush trick that he published in The Bongo Book (1966). He also wrote Be a Magician (1979), and Ali Bongo’s Book of Magic (1980).

Ali Bongo had his own TV series featuring children’s magic and was the presenter of the Ali Bongo’s Cartoon Carnival which featured himself and his assistant Oscar. It aired on UK TV BBC1 on Saturdays between October 23, 1971, and December 18, 1971, a total of nine episodes. Bongo was featured in an episode of Children’s TV show Rainbow and appeared in the science-fiction show The Tomorrow People in the serial “Revenge of Jedikiah”. He also acted as the magical advisor to 70’s cult TV show in the UK, Ace of Wands.

Ali was a magic consultant for many TV shows and musical programs for B.B.C. TV stars David Nixon, Paul Daniels and others. Ali was a consultant along with David Berglas for the magic that is seen in the movie Casino Royale that starred Orson Welles.

Ali Bongo was a past president of the I.B.M. Ring and a winner of the prestigious British Ring Shield in 1964; The Magic Circle “Magician of the Year” Award in 1972; the Academy of Magical Arts “Best Lecturer of the Year” Award in 1975, and; the David Berglas Award in 1991. The Academy of Magical Arts presented Ali Bongo with a Masters Fellowship in 1993 and also that year won the 1993 Carlton Award for Comedy. On September 8, 2008 and was elected President of The Magic Circle.

Thank you for the laughter Mr Bongo.


Credit for content from Magic and Magicians by T.A. Waters, Wikipedia, “Bart Whaley’s Who’s Who in Magic”, “Brief Biographies” on www.magicnook.com and Stan Allen of “MAGIC Magazine“. Research for article also by Scott Wells, A.I.M.C. with Silver Star.

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