Official Bullet Catch Page

Most dangerous feat in magic! Bullet Catch as done by David Blaine-Penn & Teller-Criss Angel- Dorothy Dietrich, Ralf Bialla, others, etc.

OFFICIAL BULLET CATCH SITE explaination and presentation methods & dangers, deaths, injuries, etc.

WARNING! Do not attempt the bullet catch. As you will see from this webpage, this is a very dangerous undertaking, no matter what the method, or what precautions are taken.

List of Deaths Associated With the Bullet Catch


Coulen ( Couleu ) of Lorraine (1500s) Possibly the inventor of the bullet catch. Beaten to death in France by an angry assistant in 1613, with the butt of his own trick pistol. He did the Bullet Catch catch in his hand.
This is the oldest known reference we could find from the book "The Theatre of Gods judgements wherein is represented the admirable justice of God against all notorious sinners" written by Jean Chassanion in 1581 translated by Thomas Beard (1576-1632) in 1597. "It is not long since there was in Lorraine a certaine man called Coulen, that was over much given to this cursed Art: amongst whose tricks this was one to be wondred at; that he would suffer harquebuses or pistols to be shot at him, and catch their bullets in his hand without receiving any hurt: but upon a certain time one of his servants being angry with him, hot him such a knock with a pistoll (notwithstanding all his great cunning) that he killed him therewith."

MADAME deLINSKY (1820) magician's female assistant killed when real bullet loaded into chamber by mistake. The wife/assistant of a Polish magician had a routine where she faced a firing squad of six soldiers. In the early 19th century, rifles were loaded by biting open a cartridge, pouring the gunpowder in the barrel, then jamming the rest of the cartridge down the barrel with a ramrod. In the DeLinsky version of the trick, the soldiers were shills, paid and secretly told to bite away the whole bullet and load in a blank. in Germany before a royal court, the fatal incident occurred when one of the riflemen got nervous and reverted to his usual way of loading the gun. When the bullet hit Madame DeLinsky, who was pregnant in the abdomen, several audience members fainted. The Madame died two days later.
GIOVANNI deGRISY son of Torrini, supposedly Robert-Houdin's mentor; reportedly Torrini fired the gun that killed his son.
ARNOLD BUCK (1840) died when a volunteer in secret added nails to the gun barrel before firing at him in Bullet Catch attempt. As long as there have been magicians, there have been skeptical audience members who hope to mess up their tricks. Unfortunately, in Buck's case, he picked one such troublemaker as a volunteer to load a bullet into a gun. Along with a bullet, which was a blank, the volunteer dropped some nails into the barrel, then fired. It was fatal for Buck.
ADAM EPSTEIN (1869) his wand, used to ram home the balls in the rifle barrel, broke inside the gun; he was killed by wand shards fired in Bullet Catch attempt
RAOUL CURRAN (1880) Killed by an audience member who jumped out of his seat and shot him without warning
deLINE Jr (1890) his magician father shot him onstage during the Bullet Catch
MICHAEL HATAL (1899) he failed to switch blank cartridges for the real bullets that killed him
Mon San Francisco Chronicle 30 Oct 1899 MichaelHatal bullet catch death
EDVIN LINDBERG (Germany, killed in 1905)
OTTO BLUMENFELD (1906) he failed to switch bullets during the Bullet Catch
CHUNG LING SOO
Chung Ling Soo
Chung Ling Soo Killed by a faulty trick gun used in the Bullet Catch. In London at Wood Green Empire Theatre March 23, 1918, he was doing the bullet catch, his most popular act, Condemed to Death by the Boxers. He didn't have the gun cleaned out properly. This caused a buildup of gun powder in the lower ramrod tube, which gave it enough force to fire the bullet into his chest. Breaking character, speaking english on stage for the first time, he said "Oh my God, bring down the curtan. Something has happened." He died the next day in the hospital. In the film The Prestige he's played by Chao-Li Chi, and is Colin Firth's, alter ego Wei Ling-soo in Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight.
For a review and other info click on book
H. T. SARTELL Failed to switch bullets, may have used the bullet catch to deliberately commit suicide.
THE BLACK WIZARD OF THE WEST (1922) His wife purposely fired live bullets.
TED ANNEMANN 1942 Perfected his own version of the bullet catch illusion, performing the effect outdoors. Accounts of his performance describe the feat as a dramatic effect wherein Annemann would collapse from the apparent force of the gun and then produce the bullet from his blood-drenched mouth. In 1934 he began publishing the famous magazine The Jinx, for magicians. The magazine was focused on mentalism, but also featured ground-breaking effects from other fields of magic. The publication of this magazine ceased after Annemann's death and copies of it have become collector's items. Effects from the magazine have been published in several books and manuscripts, among them Annemann's Practical Mental Magic. This book is considered a classic in the field of mentalism. It is notable for discussing the billet reading of the medium Bert Reese. Annemann was married twice and had a daughter by his first wife. His personality is the subject of much speculation. Annemann was scheduled to perform his bullet catch indoors for the first time. The performance was to be on the night of January 12, 1942. Two weeks before the performance, he committed suicide.

Short part of next clip was shown on David Blaine Beyond Magic 2016 Special
together with clip of Dorothy Dietrich's Bullet Catch.
Ted Annemann Bullet Catch Sept 5, 1938, Labor Day weekend.


RALF BIALLA (1975) In the 1950s the German magician performed the bullet catch, for a salary of 2.000 DM a day. He wore bullet-proof glasses, steel gloves on his hands with which he covered parts of his face, and his front teeth were made of steel. A .22 rifle was fired, and the bullet had to go through three glass panes before Bialla caught it with his teeth. He was seriously wounded nine times, but survived. He was portrayed in the 1972 documentary film "Wer schießt auf Ralf Bialla?". An eccentric magician, who was billed as The Living Target. He had performed the trick over 3,000 times, a feat he attributed not only to his skill but to a set of steel teeth he had beneath his dentures. In Bialla's version of the trick, the bullet was fired through three panes of glass then into his mouth via a funnel he made with his hands, clad in steel gloves. Reportedly, one of the long-term effects of catching all those bullets was that he had problems that caused him to black out. After recovering from an injury in 1975, he went for a stroll in the mountains. While admiring scenery over a cliff, he blacked out and fell to his death, supposedly because of constant dizzyness caused by the injuries from bullet catching act. As with many who do this it could have been a suicide.

DOC CONRAD (1977) killed during practice of the Russian Roulette trick, a version of the Bullet Catch
FERNANDO TEJADA (1988) Killed onstage during a performance of the Bullet Catch in Columbia
ZAMBA POWERS (Kofi Brugah) August, 2007, Killed onstage during a performance. Daily Graphic,Ghana http://www.edition.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/200706/5758.php
The following are just a few of the many who have been injured doing the bullet catch.

KIA KHAN KHRUSE (1818) Shot by spectator, not killed)
JEAN HUGARD, Australian magician, featured the routine using modern rifles from 1906 and, while his method was clever, he nevertheless suffered injury when a mischievous assistant slipped some shot pellets into the gun.



MAURICE ROOKLYN 1934, Australian magician, survived being hit in the shoulder by a bullet while performing the bullet catch. After this event he wore a chainmail vest under his shirt for safety. When he was later hit in the scalp by another bullet he decided to remove the trick from his repertoire.

A few who beat the Bullet Catch JINX (so far!)

JOHN HENRY ANDERSON, THE GREAT WIZARD OF THE NORTH
 
The first to produce rabbits from a hat. His tricks and illusions included the Inexhaustible Bottle, which appeared to produce any drink requested by the members of the audience. The Great Gun Trick, described as the most wonderful feat ever attempted by man, Anderson was seemingly able to catch a bullet fired at him from a musket. It was always kept as the finale in order that ladies might withdraw, to avoid witnessing it. He was a philanthropist and expert showman, and was one of the earliest magicians to attain a high level of world renown. He became a huge influence on the great Harry Houdini. In the year Anderson died, 1874, his great admirer Harry Houdini was born. His headstone was restored by Houdini who also endowed a trust for the perpetual upkeep of the grave. In tribute in Scotland Houdini had hundreds of pairs of shoes made to distribute to the poor barefoot children he encountered. His generosity echoed that of The Great Wizard who while in America had given generously to charities for the poor.
JEAN-EUGENE ROBERT-HOUDIN Stopped a revolt with the aid of the bullet catch. In September 1856 Robert-Houdin came out of retirement for the French Government, to go to colonial French Algeria to impress locals to quell support for Marabouts, who claimed to be holy men and used magic claiming to be prophets of Allah, to cause discent. The Marabouts used tricks to gain control over a gullable public. Besides duplicating and improving on their tricks he made use of the bullet catch to show French magicwas stronger. In theater performances he had people fire at him and caught their bullet in an apple on the tip of a sword. When challenged, he caught a bullet in his teeth, and rather than firing back, shot at a wall of a building. Blood began to trickle out the bullet hole. The uprising was deprived of its strength and Robert-Houdin added to the legendary history of the bullet catch.

The bullet catch was also done by ALEXANDER HERRMANN the leading family of magic in the early days of vaudeville, and later once by ADELAIDE HERRMANN
HOUDINI. One stunt Houdini backed away from was the bullet catch, his friend, Dean of Magic, Harry Keller warned Houdini that there were too many things that could go wrong and requested that he not do the stunt: Harry Kellar wrote to Houdini: " "Now, my dear boy, this is advice from the heart, DON'T TRY THE DAMN Bullet Catching..no matter how sure you may feel of its success. There is always the biggest kind of risk that some dog will "job" you. And we can't afford to lose Houdini. You have enough good stuff to maintain your position at the head of the profession. And you owe it to your friends and your family to cut out all stuff that entails risk of your life. Please, Harry, listen to your old friend Kellar who loves you as his own son and don't do it." Houdini had announced that would try the stunt at a benefit after well known headlining magician Chung Ling Soo (also a Bro. Mason whose real name was William Ellsworth Robinson) had been killed performing it, but Houdini assented to Bro. Keller's sage advice. He did the upside down strait jacket instead. Houdini, as a youngester, had experimented with the bullet catch and throughout his life had a bullet loged in his hand from an accident.


MILBOURNE CHRISTOPHER
did variety magic specials early on, on national TV. Milbourne Christopher performed in the first magic special on national TV. He promoted his specials with a grand effect at the end, making people stay tuned to the end of the show. In this photograph he's closing doing a dangerous bullet catch.

Milbourne Christopher

PENN & TELLER and the Bullet Catch.
Penn & Teller Penn & Teller
An amazing magical presentation of the bullet catch by these two talented super stars of theater and magic. "Things can horribly wrong, even in reasonably safe tricks," Penn Jillette once remarked. "Chung Ling was shot in the chest and killed by an assistant in 1918. In 1880, Raoul Curran was doing his medicine show featuring the bullet catch. A heckler in the audience stood and shouted, 'If you can do that, catch this!' Curran caught the slug from the heckler-murderer's non-trick gun square in his forehead. I had a few gang-bangers in L.A. yell to me, 'Hey, man, are you that guy who can catch bullets in your teeth?' I threw my hands up and screamed, 'It's a trick!'"

Penn and Teller did not invent their version of the Bullet Catch. When they played Jones Hall, they spent some time with BANACHEK at his home. BANACHEK showed them a video of his "Bullet Catch" act. "The gun is fired and I catch the bullet in my teeth. The bullets, markings are checked by the audience members and everyone breathes again." Hearing he no longer performs the act, they bought the "Bullet Catch" for a nice piece of change. "I was compensated well," is the way the BANACHEK put it. banachek


In 1980, CARL SKENES performed his "bullet catch" on the television show, "That's Incredible!"

Carl Skenes Carl Skenes
Carl earned notoriety that has remained with him to this day, even earning mentions from several celebrities on VH1's "I Love the 80s," and a mention from "Ripley's Believe It or Not" published column. Carl subsequently performed this on the international shows "Super Sabado" (Puerto Rico), "Fantastico" (Venezuela), and "We're Number One!" (Japan), and "That's Incredible" re-aired in 2004 on the "That's Incredible! Reunion." This series was controversial in that "an expose in a May 1982 issue of TV Guide revealed several of the programs' stunts to be rigged or, even worse, straight out frauds."
http://networkcableguide.com/thats_incredible.htm
http://www.oocities.org/barbie24_61/thats_incredible.htm

That's Incredible! "The popular 1980s reality-show precursor traded primarily in eye-opening stunts (a chimp tending bar, a plane landing on a moving truck, jousters on top of cars, a man 'catching' a bullet with his mouth), and the credibility of some segments was occasionally called into question (a May 1982 issue of TV GUIDE revealed that several 'death-defying' acts had been rigged)."
http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/thats-incredible/cast/204847/
https://www.fan.tv/shows/1073-thats-incredible/seasons/1

Carl's other magic related performances include balloon animal sculpture twister, magic shows, Santa Claus, driving blindfolded, and escaping from a straightjacket while dangling from huge heights! https://www.gigsalad.com/carl_skenes_orlando Like most magicians, with the exception of Penn and Teller, he claimed to really catch a bullet with no trickery.

DOROTHY DIETRICH, is the first and only women in history to catch a bullet in the mouth. She has also performed the second most dangerous stunt in magic, the escape from a straight jacket while suspended high in the air from a burning rope.
MASTER MAGICIAN: DOROTHY DIETRICH

Another historic event. Dorothy Dietrich becomes the first women in history to catch a bullet in her mouth. Each time she has done it, it was done under strict conditions with a commitee from the sponsor of the event instructed to buy the bullets ahead of time, keep them under guard and bring them to the event to assure that live ammunition was in play.

......


Picture on national TV of first freely chosen sample bullet shot in wall that Dorothy will stand in front of...

This longer 7 minute video has a short biography of Dorothy Dietrich, shows the test firing of one of the randomly selected bullets going into the wall in front of which Dorothy will stand, and the ambulances arriving before the second randomly fired bullet is caught.

DOROTHY DIETRICH:
The Bullet Catch at Donald Trump 10th anniversary Resorts International in Atlantic City

Go to Woman Magician DOROTHY DIETRICH's home Page.

Magician BEN ROBINSON after meeting with Dorothy Dietrich and others researching the bullet catch for a book, ending up doing it, as he probably planned. it is now a rare collectors item, "Twelve Have Died!"
ben

In a recent press release from CRISS ANGEL, magician and star of A&E's series Mindfreak, he expresses his concerns about the network possibly not wanting to air an episode of this show in which Korn's Jonathan Davis took part. Here is why:

"I did something that is a famous effect that 12 magicians have tried to do and died" to catch a bullet in your teeth. I wanted to devise a way to really try to do it. I had a ballistics expert fabricate a metal cup for my mouth designed to absorb the .223 bullet. And I had a sharpshooter, a guy who is an incredible shot - Jon Davis from the band Korn. And we were successful in doing it. We did it and I didn't kill myself! I want to show people."

This quote appeared in USA Today.


Angel's presentation seems to be similar to the presentation done by Dorothy Dietrich many years before using a "ballistics expert fabricate a metal cup for my mouth" and "a sharpshooter".
DAVID BLAINE who did a version of the Bulllet Catch, along the lines of Carl Skenes and Dorothy Dietrich, on his special "Dive of Death!" David Blaine and Dorothy Dietrich gave beeb known to keep a team of medics trained in on-site trauma handy for the bullet catch. More at DavidBlaine.com

This would be followed by another presentation on a TV special "Beyond Magic" in 2016 where "BLAINE attempts one of the most famous and deadliest effects in magic." "For the first time in history, the magician was also the marksman." On this special short film clips of two legendary entertainers are shown doing the bullet catch in the mouth, Ted Annemann (committed suicide two weeks before his first indoor attempt) and Dorothy Dietrich (living).


The bullet catch has a long dark history, mostly done by leading performers.
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