Milt Larsen, who co-founded Hollywood’s famed Magic Castle in the early 1960s, has died at the age of 92, club officials announced on Monday.
“It is with heavy hearts that the Academy of Magical Arts shares the sad news that Magic Castle founder Milt Larsen has passed away,” said Chuck Martinez, chair of the board of directors for the Castle’s Academy of Magical Arts.
“For decades, he brought magic to so many lives and his legacy will continue to do so. We will miss him tremendously.”
Larsen “passed away peacefully in his sleep” in Los Angeles on Sunday, club officials said.
Larsen was a magician himself and a writer for TV game shows including “Truth or Consequences.” He founded the Magic Castle in 1963 with his brother, William Larsen Jr., and William’s wife Irene.
The Larsen family has operated the exclusive club for decades, leasing a gothic home on 7001 Franklin Ave. from owner Thomas O. Glover and turning it into an exclusive clubhouse for magicians.
In 2022, the Franklin Avenue manor was purchased by Randy Pitchford, founder of video-game maker Gearbox Entertainment.
An avid magician himself and longtime AMA member and Magic Castle attendee, Pitchford said he was dedicated to thpreservation of the 1908- vintage building.
“The Magic Castle is like bedrock — the center point of magic,” Pitchford said in a statement in 2022. “The people who think of the Castle as their home and the place itself seem to have magical properties that have created and inspired some of the world’s greatest entertainers. I’m proud to be trusted to both give back to the place that made me to become the custodian of the Magic Castle and to work with its members and the Larsen family to ensure our most incredible club house grows and thrives for decades to come.”
Larsen said at the time that Pitchford “has done something extraordinary to protect our beloved Magic Castle and I could not be happier about our current situation as well as the prospects for the future. Randy really understands and appreciates my vision and the Larsen family vision and there is no one better to carry on what we started in 1963.”
Milt Larsen and his late brother were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006.
A long-time resident of Montecito, Larsen divided his time between Los Angeles and the coastal town. In addition to his wife Arlene, he is survived by his niece Erika Larsen, president of Magic Castle Enterprises Inc.; his nephew Dante Larsen; and great-nieces Jessica Hopkins and Liberty Larsen.