Ladies and gentlemen… please welcome our magicians for this evening… the amazing Bruce and Kitty Spangler.
As a very young child, I can remember sitting backstage and hearing these words as the orchestra began to play and my parents took center stage. I’ve often talked about my love for the art of magic, but few people know that I grew up in a family of professional magicians. When you live in a family of magicians, seeing your Mom float or get sawed in half is really nothing out of the ordinary. I remember taking my Dad to show-and-tell when I was in kindergarten. What did he do? My Dad pulled a torch out of his bag of tricks and ate fire for my entire class. Let’s just say that when your Dad eats fire for show-and-tell, it’s kind of a show stopper.
I recently introduced 9News reporter Kim Christiansen and photo journalist Eric Kehe to my parents, Bruce and Kitty Spangler, for a behind the scenes look at a special art that is being passed down through three generations.
It would be safe to say few people have grown up with parents like Bruce and Kitty. They are ordinary in many ways, and yet strange in wonderful ways.
When their three children were young Bruce worked for US WEST in the knowledge/engineering division. Kitty did home day care and taught piano lessons.
The weekends and evenings were devoted to performance. Bruce and Kitty are magicians. For more than three decades they have performed magic and science (we’ll get to that in a moment) programs throughout the United States and around the world.
Their “magic” occupations impressed all children, including their own. When their oldest son was in elementary school a teacher called home to talk about his “overactive” imagination. It seems the class was talking about their parents’ occupations and Steve told everyone, “My dad eats fire, makes people float and cuts my mom into three pieces.”
Steve says he knew in kindergarten his parents’ hobby was very special, because he always had the best “Show and Tell.” Steve used to perform a magic trick for his classmates, a trick taught to him by his parents.
At home Bruce and Kitty did much more than magic tricks. Kitty used to make “fake blood” that was used in films and television productions. Their home is also where their collection began. Their basement is a magic museum.
“We wanted our kids to grow up in an environment that would trigger their imaginations, so this is one of those things we did to do that,” Bruce said.
They have magic collections that once belonged to some of the greatest magicians. These are people Bruce and Kitty have met while performing and attending magic shows. Bruce even taught David Copperfield a few tricks many years ago.
The magic is just one part to their show and their lifestyle. The other part is pure science. When he looks at his magic collection Bruce says, “Every magic trick you see down here has a scientific explanation, we don’t really believe in spells and ghosts and all of that.”
In order to be a good magician, Bruce and Kitty believe you need to be a good scientist first. That’s a lesson their children learned early on. Steve adds, “Being in a family of magicians you always started with the impossible and worked backwards. There was never a, ‘No you can’t do that.’ It was always, ‘OK, let’s just figure out how we’re going to do that.'”
It should come as no surprise that Steve grew up to become a very popular scientist. He’s Steve Spangler the Science Guy. He’s “performed” his science in classrooms around the country, on 9News and the Ellen Degeneres Show.
Steve has passed on his love of science on to his three sons. They are eager to perform their magical science at every opportunity.
This is one booming “family business.” While Steve is famous for his television science, his parents are famous to students throughout the state. They teach students about science through magic, with their business FutureQuest Academy of Magic.
– Kim Christiansen, 9News