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Dean Gunnarson

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Dean Gunnarson is an award-winning Canadian escapologist. He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.[1] He is noted for a series of large scale spectacular stunts done for television.[2]

Gunnarson's most notable television appearances include the NBC special The World's Most Dangerous Magic, for which he escaped from a straitjacket while hanging upsidedown 726 feet above the ground from a trapeze suspended from the Hoover Dam. He has also appeared in the NBC special, Magic in The Magic Kingdom, filmed at Disneyland in 1988, and in The Spectacular World of Guinness Records, hosted by David Frost.

Gunnarson narrowly escaped death in October 1983 during a stunt in which he was handcuffed and chained and nailed into a coffin which was then submerged in the Red River in Winnipeg. The stunt went wrong as the coffin was lowered into the water, leaving him unable to escape. He was eventually pulled from the river and freed by the support crew, at which point he was not breathing and had to be resuscitated by paramedics. The incident led Johnny Carson to refer to Gunnarson on The Tonight Show as "that crazy Canadian".[3]

Gunnarson was the first recipient of the Houdini Award on the Magic Stars television show in Tokyo, Japan. He became the youngest person and first Canadian to be awarded the U.C.T. "Humanitarian of the Year" for his devotion to raising money for various charities after being chosen out of 185,000 people nominated in North America.[4]

Major stunts

  • Buried Alive Where he dug himself out of a grave, after being buried on Friday 29th October 2010 and escaped 31st October 2010 to coincide with Harry Houdinis date of death.
  • Houdini's Milk Can Escape for the Search for Houdini television special on Halloween Night, 1987 - he was a last minute replacement for James "The Amazing" Randi, who was injured just before his scheduled live performance.
  • The "Challenge at Hoover Dam" straitjacket escape on The World's Most Dangerous Magic - 30 August 1998
  • "Gator Bait" on The World's Most Dangerous Magic 2 - 2 May 1999 - escape from a straight-jacket and chains while hung upside down by his toes from a trapeze above 130 hungry alligators at Gatorland in Florida.
  • "Airplane jump" for the 500th episode of the Japanese television show Naruhudo! The World - Chained with handcuffs and locked in a strait jacket and thrown from an airplane 13,500 feet in the air Gunnarson had one minute of freefall in which to release himself and open his parachute.[5]


Further reading

James Randi, The Magic World of the Amazing Randi, pub. Adams Media Corporation (September 1989), ISBN 978-1558509825

External links

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