February 24 seemed like any other show night at the Magic Castle. A small gathering of well-dressed guests waited outside, expecting to see Hollywood-worthy feats of prestidigitation. Instead, they were greeted by police and security staff who advised the would-be audience members that the magic show was cancelled. No reason was immediately given, but the ambulance outside the venerable venue may have been a clue.
The magician they were scheduled to see had been found hanging in his dressing room just before showtime.
Daryl Easton, better known as Daryl the Magician, was declared dead on the scene. The Los Angeles County Coroner ruled the magician's demise a suicide. A source close to the Easton family told the Hollywood Reporter that although the 61-year-old illusionist had been deeply depressed, nobody expected him to kill himself. Daryl's wife, Alison Easton, was hit especially hard by the suicide.
"Daryl has always suffered from depression, but she never thought he would take his own life, especially in this manner. She can't get the image out of her head. Daryl had been suffering quite a lot recently. He was getting on in age and felt that he hadn't achieved any of the goals that he had set for himself. Alison and he had been going through a tough time of late, but she never possibly imagined he would take his own life."Alison Easton told theAuburn Journal that her late husband had suffered from depression since childhood. She also noted that Daryl gave credit to his rough upbringing for facilitating his magic career.
"He survived a very difficult childhood. As a result, he suffered from depression, which finally overwhelmed him. It was so tragic because he brought so much joy to so many thousands of people. He credited his difficult childhood for one of the reasons he was so good at magic. It was his happy place. It was what he did to escape. He was given a card trick deck at 7 years old. And that was it. He was hooked."Daryl Martinez started doing card tricks when he was a kid in San Diego. At age 18, Martinez adopted the stage name Easton and was hired by the Kaiser Aluminum company to amaze audiences at exhibitions. In the mid-1990s, Easton began a seven-year run at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, after which he and his wife (who's also a magician) moved to the Sierras foothills town of Auburn, California. In 2001, Easton gave an outstanding performance at the inauguration celebration of George W. Bush.
Easton's website describes his accomplishments
"Daryl performed as a headline act at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for seven years fine tuning his already encyclopedic knowledge of magic. Daryl has performed literally thousands of shows for audiences as diverse as the Witch Doctors on the South Pacific island of Vanuatu to the movers and shakers of the political world at the Presidential Ball in Washington, D.C."The day after the award-winning magician was discovered hanged in Hollywood, The Magic Castle expressed their dismay at the tragic situation in a Facebook post.
"Daryl, who was performing at the Magic Castle this week, was found dead on the club's premises on the evening of Friday, Feb. 24, and his death has been ruled a suicide by the Los Angeles Police Department. The magic community mourns the loss of one of our most beloved and talented performers and the Academy of Magic Arts deepest regrets and heart-felt sympathy go out to Daryl's family."Fans and friends of the late magician may contribute toward Easton's funeral expenses at GoFundMe.
The Magic Castle in Hollywood
Constructed in 1909 as a private residence, the unmistakable Magic Castle at 7001 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood has served as the official clubhouse of the Academy of Magical Arts since January 1963. The venerated venue occasionally features celebrities who also happen to be amateur magicians. Past celebrity performers include Jason Alexander, Johnny Carson, Orson Welles, Neil Patrick Harris, and Cary Grant.
The elaborate Chateauesque structure was designed by Los Angeles architects Oliver Perry Dennis and Lyman Farwell. The former Lane Mansion boasts High Victorian style dining complete with private seances in the Houdini Chamber.
According to the company website, persons who apply for Magic Castle membership may wait as long as four months to be admitted to the exclusive association. Now-deceased Las Vegas magician Daryl Easton, like other "regular" club members, was required to prove his magic skills at an audition. Associate memberships are available for folks who simply love legerdemain.[Featured Image by Minnaert | Wikimedia Commons | Public Domain]