Chan Canasta

by Ida Kar, vintage bromide print, late 1950s

I think Derren Brown will be remembered as one of the all-time great mentalists.

Fortunately for all of us he is still in his prime and if you want to, you can see him perform.

He will certainly be the focal point of another blog post.

When asked about his inspirations, Derren named Chan Canasta specifically.

Sadly, I was not exposed to the work of Chan Canasta until a few years after his passing.

Other greats in our field built upon the foundation laid by Chan Canasta including but certainly not limited to Al Koran and David Berglas.

Chan Canasta took mentalism in a new direction.

While he wasn’t the first to use broadcast technology, he was an early pioneer of mentalism on television making his television broadcast premier as early as 1951.

Chan Canasta made in excess of 350 television appearances.

Among others he appeared on the Ed Sullivan show as well as the show of Arlene Francis and Jack Paar. 

He was one of the first mentalists to avoid the title “magician,” or even “mentalist.”

He referred to himself as “A Remarkable Man,” and indeed he was. 

He is best known and often associated with the mentalist principle of “eschewed perfection.”

He believed that the occasional error added credibility, tension, and entertainment value to his presentation. 

Born Chananel Mifelew on January 9, 1920, he would later change his name to Chan Canasta.  

Sadly, most of his family perished in the Holocaust.

He studied philosophy and natural sciences at Krakow University in Poland then switched his focus to psychology when he relocated to Jerusalem.

During the Second World War he volunteered to serve in the Royal Air Force.

After the war he became a British citizen. 

His final televised appearance was in November of 1983.

He crossed over on April 22, 1999 at the age or 79.

Much Love,

David Dellman