18 Jun 19
The Scottish Sun
MAGICIAN ‘Wizard Mandrake’s’ loved ones probably wish they could turn back time and stop him from trying out his latest terrifying trick.
The Indian stuntman, 40, was found dead yesterday after being lowered into the Ganges River while tied up with steel chains and ropes.
‘Wizard Mandrake’ is pictured being lowered into India’s Ganges River on Sunday while in shackles
But it isn’t the first time a magic trick has gone horribly wrong.
From magicians shot dead and mowed down by speeding cars to escapologists crushed to death while being buried alive, the industry is blighted by tragedy.
And it’s not just the stuntmen and women themselves who fall victim – a TV presenter was once stabbed through her hand with a nail during a paper bag trick live on air.
Here, as ‘Wizard’ Chanchal Lahiri’s family and friends mourn their loss, we look at the other stunts that didn’t go to plan – often with deadly consequences.
A search was launched for the Indian stuntman, but he was tragically later found dead
The Brit escapologist who was buried alive
Being buried alive is among many people’s worst fears.
But Brit escapologist Antony Britton deliberately allowed himself to be handcuffed and buried under six feet, and six tonnes, of soil – all in the name of magic.
Antony hoped to beat famous illusionist Harry Houdini – who himself almost died in 1915 attempting the same trick – during his ‘Buried Alive’ stunt at Slaithwaite Spa, West Yorkshire, in 2015. However, it nearly cost him his life.
Escapologist Antony Britton lost consciousness during his daring escape bid in West Yorkshire
The stuntman, who was not in a coffin and didn’t have any pipes or oxygen tanks aiding him, failed to break through to the surface almost nine minutes into the bid.
He ended up being pulled from the ground unconscious and suffered a broken rib.
Antony, from Linthwaite, said at the time: “I was just seconds away from death. It was scary. The pressure of the soil was crushing around me.”
A smiling Antony stands inside the “grave” before being buried under six feet of soil
The Japanese ‘princess’ impaled in 10-sword trick
As she lay locked inside a box in 2007, Japanese magician Princess Tenko knew she had just moments to spare before 10 swords pierced the sides of it.
It’s a horrifying thought to most of us – but Tenko was a world-renowned magician who specialised in grand illusions and had a huge base of adoring fans.
Princess Tenko was impaled by swords after the trick in Sabae, Japan, ended badly
But this time, her trick would go drastically wrong, nearly killing her.
Tenko, now 59, failed to escape in time during the show in Sabae – and was pinned inside the box by the swords, leaving her with a broken cheek and ribs.
Her manager, Noboru Ochiai, said at the time that one of the blades “would have been stuck in her right eye if it were one centimetre higher.”
Tenko is pictured during a different Virtual Illusion Show in Tokyo, Japan
The Houdini fan who was crushed to death in coffin
Escape artist Joseph Burrus, who was desperate to emulate his hero, Houdini, died on Halloween 1990 while trying to perform a ‘Buried Alive’ trick.
Joseph, 32, was lying inside a see-through casket when he was lowered into a hole in the ground.
Joseph Burrus attempted to escape from a see-through coffin in California, US
A cement truck then poured its contents on to the casket – but tragedy struck when the ‘coffin’ suddenly collapsed under the wet cement’s weight.
Joseph, dubbed ‘Amazing Joe’, ended up being crushed to death at the scene in California, US.
Joseph, dubbed ‘Amazing Joe’, was tragically crushed to death during the Halloween incident
The presenter who was impaled by a nail on live TV
Polish TV presenter Marzena Rogalska got more than she’d bargained for when she agreed to participate in a magic trick during the Question for Breakfast show.
The Russian roulette-style stunt involved her slamming her hand down on one of three paper bags – one of which had a sharp, upside-down nail hidden beneath it.
The paper bag trick went horribly wrong for Polish TV presenter Marzena Rogalska
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However, after the featured magician apparently got the bags confused, Marzena ended up shoving her hand down on to the nail and had to be rushed to hospital.
She later assured viewers her injury was superficial.
The trick, performed by a Poland’s Got Talent semifinalist, had reportedly been rehearsed correctly before the live recording.
Marzena had to be taken to hospital after her hand was impaled by a sharp nail
The Eton magician who was dragged by a golf cart
Drummond Money-Coutts, then 26, was left screaming in agony after an escape trick at the prestigious Gleneagles golf course in Perthshire, Scotland, in 2012 went very wrong.
The former Eton student was handcuffed and tied to two golf carts, with the intention of freeing himself as the buggies started to drive off in opposite directions.
Drummond Money-Coutts, then 26, performed the stunt at Gleneagles golf course in Scotland
He was left with severe cuts and bruising after being dragged along the ground by a golf cart
However, he failed to get free from one of the ropes. Instead, he suffered severe cuts and bruising as he was dragged along the ground at the five-star resort.
He later admitted the botched stunt was a “disaster”.
Money-Coutts said: “The right side of my body is grazed to pieces… it was a success in that I managed to survive it without being totally torn apart.”
The stunt didn’t quite go to plan…
David Blaine’s bullet near-miss
American illusionist David Blaine is known for his crazy stunts. But in 2016, he risked death when he shot himself in the mouth during a bullet-catching trick in Vegas.
Blaine, now 46, pulled the trigger on himself in front of 20,000 people, while holding a mouth guard between his teeth with a metal cup for him to catch the bullet in.
David Blaine’s trick involved him tugging on a rope attached to a rifle
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However, as he fired the bullet by carefully tugging on a rope attached to a rifle, his gum shield shattered and he felt “an impact” on the back of his throat.
At the time, Blaine believed the bullet had gone through his head and that he was dead. But fortunately, he had survived – with only a lacerated throat.
The magician’s gum shield shattered, leaving him with a lacerated throat
Blaine was examined by doctors following the near-miss
The talent show star who accidentally drank acid
When Vietnam’s Got Talent semi-finalist Tran Tan Phat brought out four glasses of water and one glass of acid in the 2015 show, he had no idea he was moments away from disaster.
In an act dubbed the ‘Acid test’, Phat got one of the contest’s judges to come on stage and shuffle the glasses around, including the one containing sulphuric acid.
Vietnam’s Got Talent star Tran Tan Phat accidentally drunk the glass filled with acid
He then claimed he would use his magic to work out which glass had the dangerous substance in it. However, as the judges looked on, he chose wrong.
Phat spat out the acid as soon as he realised what he was drinking – but not before his lips had swollen up and pain had shot through him, according to reports.
He was raced to hospital and treated for second-degree burns.
Fortunately, the acid was said to be a “diluted” form.
His lips swelled up after he tasted the substance
The magician hit and killed by a speeding car
Karr the Magician, real name Charles Rowen, was known for escaping from strait jackets.
And he relied on this skill during a show in South Africa in 1930, when a man was speeding towards him in a car as he attempted to free himself from a jacket.
Unfortunately, Karr was too slow. Unable to escape in time, he was mowed down by the 45mph car in front of a horrified crowd, including young children.
He died from his injuries, with some reports claiming he was dismembered.
Karr, real name Charles Rowen, was trying to escape from a strait jacket (file picture)
The magician who tried to “catch” bullets in teeth
Trying to “catch” bullets between your teeth doesn’t sound like the smartest move – and one hundred years ago, famous “Chinese conjurer” Chung Ling Soo died doing just that.
The magician, who was actually an American called William Ellsworth Robinson, performed the notoriously dangerous illusion at London’s Wood Green Empire.
A poster for “Chinese conjurer” Chung Ling Soo, who died trying to “catch” bullets in his teeth
His assistants used two modified guns for the ‘Condemned to Death by the Boxers’ trick, which secretly featured two barrels – one for the real bullet and the other for a blank.
But on the fateful night in March 1918, built-up gunpowder residue caused both the bullet and the blank to fire from one of the guns, killing 56-year-old Soo.
The magician, who claimed not to speak English and usually performed all his tricks in silence, was heard to suddenly gasp: “My God, I’ve been shot.”
The dentist who accidentally swallowed razor blade
Australian dentist Dr Vivian Hensley should probably have known the risks of putting a sharp object near his mouth when he died during a botched stunt in 1938.
Dr Vivian Hensley accidentally swallowed a razor blade
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The aspiring magician was performing his own trick of swallowing a rusty razor blade at the time – something he’d only pretend to do, instead slipping it down his sleeve. But on this occasion, the blade accidentally went down his throat.
Dr Hensley, who had a young son, was rushed to hospital by his wife, who reportedly made him eat cotton balls as she drove him through the streets.
But despite her efforts and numerous X-Rays, he died four days later.