R.I.P. The Amazing Randi, the popular magician who appeared on Happy Days
He appeared on TV from kids' shows to late-night and toured with Alice Cooper.
On a February morning in 1956, NBC's Today show sealed a young Canadian man in a coffin. His given name was Randall Zwinge, but he called himself "The Amazing Randi," and he was about to one-up Harry Houdini. Sealed inside his metal coffin, the escapologist was submerged into a hotel pool, where he remained 104 minutes. Houdini did a similar trick for 93 minutes.
The Amazing Randi remained a television attraction for decades. Throughout the Sixties, he could be seen on the beloved NYC regional children's program Wonderama. Johnny Carson loved the guy too, frequently booking him on The Tonight Show.
In the early 1970s, the Amazing Randi took a rather unlikely rock & roll gig as a touring stage magician on Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies tour. The Seventies would prove to be the peak of the Amazing Randi's popularity, especially as he peeled back the curtain on magicians as a skeptic. Randi particularly called out the spoon-bending "mental powers" of Uri Geller. Like Penn & Teller, with whom he would collaborate, Randi both helped popularize stage magic while revealing the deceptive tricks of the trade.
As proof of his popularity, the Amazing Randi appeared on an episode of Happy Days in 1978, "The Magic Show." (As seen in the image up top.) At the time, the Happy Days universe dominated television, with Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy all in Top 3 rated shows in America, according to Nielsen.
In 1981, the Amazing Randi appeared on the cover of Dynamite magazine, staring directly into the camera's eye with a skull on his shoulder.
On October 20, the Amazing Randi passed away due to natural causes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 92.