Chances are, if you ever saw Max Maven perform — either in person or on TV in one of his many guest appearances and specials — you never forgot him. With his devilish goatee, vampiric visage, dark wardrobe, and droll-yet-charismatic demeanor, Maven looked and acted every bit the warlock, which made his acts of magic and mentalism all the more entertaining.
Born Philip Goldstein in Ithaca, New York in 1950, Maven became well-known for his mentalism, appearing to grab even the most seemingly obscure thoughts from the minds of his audience members. His patter was smooth, his voice even smoother (Maven worked as a Boston radio DJ for a time), and his routines were absolutely elegant.
In addition to working as a magician and mentalist, Maven was a consultant for some of magic’s biggest names, including Penn & Teller, David Copperfield, and Siegfried & Roy. He appeared on television specials around the world, performed numerous times in Japan (he was the first foreigner to win the Tenkai Prize, the highest award in Japanese magic), and judged several magic reality TV shows. (Wikipedia has a full rundown of Maven’s career and accomplishments.)
While no cause of death has been officially announced, Maven was diagnosed with a brain tumor back in 2021. Maven’s last tweet, posted in August of 2021, expressed hope that he was headed “in a good direction.” Sadly, that was not to be the case. It’s horrifically ironic that Maven, that master of the mind, would be afflicted with a tumor that attacked his own mind. He was 71 years old.
Max Maven was a legend in the world of magic, and to celebrate that legacy, here are just a few of his routines from throughout the years.