World famous Lytham-born magician Johnny Hart dies, aged 75

Johnny Hart was famous for an act involving budgies
Johnny Hart was famous for an act involving budgies
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Internationally-renowned Lytham-born magician Johnny Hart has died at the age of 75.

Much of his success came in the United States, where he was the first British magician to appear on the hugely popular Ed Sullivan Show. He is best known for an act involving budgerigars, which he used to produce apparently from thin air.

READ MORE >>> The global magic star who was relatively unknown in his home town of Preston
Born in Lytham St. Annes, he was the first winner of the Magic Circle's Young Magician of the Year competition in 1961.

Lancashire county councillor Jim Marsh sat next to Johnny when the pair attended the old Harris Technical College in Preston during the 1950s and recalls his friend's early talents.

"He couldn't get down the school corridor without someone shouting, 'Show us a trick, Harty!'," says Jim.

"At the end-of-year school shows, he would do these amazing tricks, like making a cane dance around him to the tune Rock Around The Clock."

And, according to Jim, his talent got a teenage Johnny out of some scrapes.

"A teacher who thought he hadn't been listening in class told him to come and write on the board what the lesson had been about. Johnny picked up the chalk and made it disappear - before producing it from behind his ear.

"Anybody who dared to applauded and even the teacher was won over in the end."

Johnny Hart's funeral will take place on 21st December at St. Michael and All Angels with St. Mark Church in Ashton-on-Ribble.