The first recorded performance of the “Sawing Someone in Half Trick” was by British magician P.T. Selbit on 17 January 1921.
It was performed at the Finsbury Park Empire, in London.
This version was very different as it was in a closed box.
The first record of the trick performed much the same way as today was Horace Goldin who performed his version later in 1921.
Has The Saw A Person In Half Magic Trick Ever Gone Wrong? There has never been a case of a magician killing their assistant on the “Sawing Someone in Half Trick”, however, there are some videos on YouTube claiming to show such an incident. Those videos are fake and did not actually happen.
Fake Saw A Person In Half Magic Trick videos
One such video that shows a fake “accident” can be seen in the following video.
It looks fairly genuine except for the fact that the woman seemed to show no reaction, I think she might have screamed had the saw even touched her.
Even though this particular trick has not gone wrong in reality, many other tricks have gone wrong, some of them on live TV.
Even the greatest magicians can get tricks wrong occasionally.
On one occasion Derren Brown, one of the greatest magicians of today, stabbed himself in the hand during a trick on live TV.
He is not the only magician to have problems. Fortunately, in most of these “fails”, the consequences are quite minor, but this is not always the case.
In the following tricks, the magician actually died during the performance of a trick.
Jeff Rayburn Hopper died during a trick on July 7th, 1984 while he was being lowered into a lake and he drowned during an escape trick
Janaka Basnayake a Sri Lankan performer had the ambition to beat David Blaine’s record of being buried alive for six days. Unfortunately after being buried alive without all the preparation that David Blaine took, after seven hours he was dug up and pronounced dead.
Royden Joseph Gilbert Raison de la Genesta was performing his famous “Milk Can Escape Trick” in Frankfurt Kentucky but unaware that during transport the milk can have been dented, resulting in the magician being able to open the can, which led to him drowning.
John Miller (aka Belebrega) had gone to Brazil to tour and his act required some bags of flammable liquid. Unfortunately during one of his tricks the bag exploded and kill both Miller and his assistant.
The Black Wizard was performing the “Bullet Catch Trick” with his wife firing the gun. Unfortunately, his wife wanted out of the marriage and instead of firing a wax bullet as planned, swapped it for a real bullet and killed her husband.
Joseph W Burrus mimicking his hero Houdini and attempting to go one better had himself buried under 6,000 lbs of concrete. He did not take into account the weight of the concrete and the fact he was using a plastic coffin, which collapsed under the weight of the concrete.
Chung Ling Soo an American magician, performing on March 23, 1918, at the Wood Green Empire in London, where he was killed during a “Bullet Catch Trick” after a malfunction due to his failure to clean the gun properly.
Charles Rowan died on stage was a performer who would escape from a straight-jacket while an automobile sped towards him, The vehicle reached 45 mph and hit him on this occasion, severing his leg and running over him, causing his death.
There is a video on YouTube that purports to show this sawing in half trick really going wrong, and the magician decapitating his wife.
General consensus is that it is a fake that was produced for a viral promotional campaign for a European company.
The commentary and title of the video describe it as really occurring and the story has never been officially denied, BUT, there are a great number of clues to demonstrate that it is fake.
Watching the video many times and reading commentaries on this video on other sites apart from YouTube, I am convinced that this is a fake, but the fact that people are still discussing it and arguing on this demonstrates what a clever viral video it really is.
I stick with the statement made earlier, “There has never been a case of a magician killing their assistant on the Sawing Someone in Half Trick” but check out the video above and see what you believe!