- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 14, 2010

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (AP) - Glenn Falkenstein, an acclaimed magician whose “spirit cabinet” illusion with wife Frances Willard wowed television audiences and crowds around the world, has died, his wife said. He was 78.

His wife said Falkenstein died in a San Antonio nursing home July 4 after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease.

A longtime Los Angeles resident, Falkenstein rose to fame in the 1970s by impressing audiences with mind-reading tricks on his radio show. He also took his magic act to television, including one of Regis Philbin’s early talk shows, and appeared in shows in Las Vegas, opening for such headliners as Ann-Margaret.

Falkenstein always disclaimed any psychic powers, and was careful to call himself a mentalist, not a mind-reader, but many fans were convinced he could indeed read their thoughts.

He performed regularly at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, Calif., a private club for the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc., and was Stage Magician of the Year in 1971.

In 1984, he married Willard, daughter of famed magician Harry Willard, and the duo performed their signature “spirit cabinet” trick worldwide. The illusion had Willard bound to a chair within a curtained enclosure while items placed inside began flying about.

When not performing, Falkenstein taught speech pathology at Los Angeles schools.

Besides his wife, Falkenstein is survived by a daughter, Cathleen Yeisley, of El Paso; a sister, Dale Myerson, of Phoenix; and several grandchildren. A son, Michael, and another daughter, Claudia, died earlier.

A memorial service was held July 11 at the Magic Castle.

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