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David Nixon

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David Nixon

Cover of Genii (1972)
BornDavid Nixon
December 29, 1919
North London, England
DiedDecember 1, 1978 (age 58)
Chipstead, Surrey, England

David Nixon (1919-1978) was an English magician and television personality. At the height of his career, the balding Nixon was the best-known magician in the UK.


Nixon's father was a lawyer whose hobby was magic and who took David to watch performers such as Nevil Maskelyne and David Devant. One magician who made an early impression on the young boy was Stanley Collins, who had a gentlemanly image which influenced Nixon's later performing style. Nixon started performing magic himself after an aunt bought him an Ernest Sewell Magic Box one Christmas.

On leaving school he got a job with the Henley Telegraph, the in-house magazine of the W. T. Henley Telegraph company, a publication which had been founded by Alfred Hitchcock. In 1938 he joined the Magic Circle. He also became an accomplished double bass player and performed with a local band.

With the advent of the Second World War Nixon joined ENSA, the organization that was set up to provide entertainment for British troops. He had been prevented from serving in a front line role as a result of suffering from pneumonia when he was a teenager. After the war he joined the Fol de Rols, a variety troupe based in Scarborough. In addition to his magic act, he sang, danced and worked front of house. In 1949 he married a singer named Margaret Burton. The same year he got his first break into television in a show called Café Continental. Margaret died in 1952 and later the same year Nixon married his second wife Paula Marshall who had worked with him in his act.

Nixon's big break came in 1954 when he was invited to be a panelist on the British version of the highly successful television quiz show What's My Line?. He went on to present series on various subjects, including the British version of Candid Camera, Comedy Bandbox (1962) (later David Nixon's Comedy Bandbox (1966), and was Basil Brush's first partner. His magic shows included Tonight with David Nixon (1969), David Nixon's Magic Box (1970), and The David Nixon Show (1972). He also appeared as a panelist on TV and radio game shows, most notably on the UK TV version of What's My Line?. He famously presented one episode of This is Your Life in which the subject was none other than the series' own host, Eamonn Andrews. Nixon also hosted a TV series on chess.

David Nixon has been recognized as an influence on future UK magicians as diverse as Wayne Dobson and Jerry Sadowitz.

Nixon died of lung cancer. He was a heavy smoker and was first diagnosed with cancer in 1976. He underwent treatment which appeared to have been successful but the disease returned a couple of years later and he died just short of his 59th birthday.[1]


  • David Nixon: Entertainer with the Magic Touch, by Edwin A. Dawes and Stephen Short [2]


  1. Genii Magazine, Vol. 36, No. 11, November 1972, This David Nixon: What's His Line? By Bayard Grimshaw, page 502
  2. Genii Magazine, Vol. 73, No. 2, February 2010, Light from the Lamp, Books REVIEWED BY DAVID BRITLAND, David Nixon: Entertainer with the Magic Touch, page 76
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  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 73, No. 793, January February 1979, Obituaries, DAVID NIXON, page 19
  • M-U-M, Vol. 68, No. 9, February 1979, Broken Wands, David Nixon, page 33
  • Genii Magazine, Vol. 43, No. 3, March 1979, Obituaries, David Nixon, page 203
  • The Magic Circular, Vol. 73, No. 802, December 1979, David Nixon, page 188
  • Bio-bibliographisches Lexikon der Zauberkünstler Edition Volker Huber, April 2002, Nixon, David engl. Zauberkünstler (*29.12.1919 London; †01.12.1978), p. 249