Ali Bongo Update - From Magic NZ Ezine
More Ali Bongo

Ali Bongo - Legend of Magic - Passed Away

We just read the news on the Genii Forum that Ali Bongo has passed away.


Ali Bongo, recently voted President of the Magic Circle, was a living legend in the world of magic.

Wikipedia listed Ali as follows:

Ali Bongo (born as William Wallace in India, 1929) was a British Comedy Magician who has an act in which he is known as the "Shriek of Araby".

Bongo has written many books on magic, many containing tricks of his own. As well as writing them he also illustrates them in his instantly recognisable style. He has acted as magic consultant for many TV shows and musicals, including the Paul Daniels Magic Show for the BBC.

Ali Bongo was the presenter of the Ali Bongo’s Cartoon Carnival which featured himself and his assistant Oscar. It aired on UK TV BBC1 on Saturdays between 12.5pm to 12.45pm 0ctober 23rd 1971 – 18th December 1971. (Nine episodes)

Bongo was featured in an episode of Children's TV show Rainbow and appeared in the science-fiction show The Tomorrow People in the serial "Revenge of Jedikiah". He also acted as the magical advisor to 70s cult TV show, Ace of Wands.

Bongo won the 1993 Carlton Award for Comedy. On 8 September 2008, he was elected President of The Magic Circle.

At the beginning of February 2009, Bongo collapsed while giving a lecture in Paris. He was taken to hospital and it was reported that he had suffered a suspected stroke. Later reports said he was off the critical list and was due to fly home to Britain.

Ali Bongo passed away March 7, 2009.

The BBC TV series 'Jonathan Creek' featured a major character inspired by Ali Bongo, and he also acted as consultant on the show (as he did on The David Nixon Show, Oliver Twist, Doctor Who, Derren Brown's shows and so many others). He also consulted on many, many West End shows and appeared in the fantastic movie 'Magicians' as himself.

  • He's also a direct descendant of the 13th century Scottish leader portrayed by Mel Gibson in 'Braveheart'.

  • He created the catchphrases 'Uju Buju suck another Juju' and 'Hocus Pocus Fishbones Choke Us'.

  • Ali was mentioned in the 'Half Man Half Biscuit' song 'Reflections in a flat'.

  • He is the great uncle to Portsmouth footballer David Nugent.

  • He was mentioned in 'Little Britain' and a series two episode of 'The Mighty Boosh'

He created a vast quantity of magic tricks including the popular close up effect 'Dice Thru Mirror' and 'The Bongo Hat', and was also a sensational artist and illustrated his own books and lecture notes including 'The Ali Bongo Book of Magic'.

Book      Book2

Ali's full professional biography can be read here and you can watch one of his last interviews, from the combined IBM/SAM convention in August last year, at 'Street of Cards' here.

I first met Ali back in 1978 at the Australian Magic Convention in Sydney when he appeared with David Nixon.

I was starstruck to see the man from TV live on stage and I was blown away by his frenetic, crazy 'Shriek of Araby' act. His lecture was, and still is, filled with the most practical thinking I've ever experienced in magic.


In 1991 I competed at FISM in Lausanne, Switzerland, and finally met Ali again. He certainly didn't remember me, but he was on the jury and I was in the contest. After winning 'Special Prize of the Jury' I actually got to share the stage with Ali in 'The Winner's Gala' as he not only introduced my act but saved the show when the sound technicians messed up.

We kept in contact and even got to perform together again in 1997 at FISM in Dresden, Germany, when I was a guest act on the Close Up Gala and he was again the compere. He'd even made up a special set of boomerangs which he used to spell out my name as he introduced me.

We met up time and time again at conventions all over the world and I even got to bring him back to Australia in 1996 for the Melbourne Convention. (He was very good at MagicSports!)


Whenever we travelled to conventions, especially FISM or FFFF, we always looked forward to meeting up with Ali and his niece Alison, who looked after Ali on his overseas jaunts. He was, as he was often described, "a sparkling dinner companion".


I even had the honour of serving on the FISM Jury with Ali at Den Haag, where we were described as "two peas in a pod" for our antics as we kept the crowd amused between acts.



Ali was a sensational jury member. He knew EVERYTHING about magic. He knew the methods of every trick we saw, who invented it, and how to improve it. He was the greatest single magical resource I've ever met PLUS he was a great performer, sensational MC (in any language) and one of the most loved people in magic.

Sue-Anne and I will miss him terribly, and our hearts go out to Alison.