Teller (magician) bigraphy, stories - Stage magician and libertarian

Teller (magician) : biography

February 14, 1948 -

Teller (born Raymond Joseph Teller; February 14, 1948) is an American magician, illusionist, actor, comedian, writer, and the frequently silent half of the comedy magic duo Penn & Teller, along with Penn Jillette. Teller is an atheist, debunker, skeptic, and a fellow of the Cato Institute (a free market libertarian think tank which also lists his partner Penn Jillette as a fellow). The Cato Institute is featured prominently in the Penn and Teller Showtime TV series Bullshit!. He has legally changed his name to just "Teller".

Early life

Teller was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Irene B. (née Derrickson) and Joseph Teller.http://www.pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Teller__Raymond_Joseph.html His father, who was of Russian Jewish descent, was from Brooklyn. His mother was from a farming family in Delaware; the two met as painters in art school.http://articles.philly.com/2004-07-28/news/25372082_1_penn-teller-paintings-abstract-works Teller attended Central High School and Amherst College. He taught English and Latin at Lawrence High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He was selected to be a member of the Central High School Hall of Fame in 2001.

Career

As a performer

Teller began performing with friend Weir Chrisemer as The Ottmar Scheckt Society for the Preservation of Weird and Disgusting Music. Teller met Penn Jillette in 1974, and they became a three-person act with Chrisemer called Asparagus Valley Cultural Society, which played in San Francisco. In 1981, they began performing exclusively together as "Penn & Teller", an act that continues to this day. On April 5, 2013 Penn and Teller were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the live performance category. Their star, the 2,494th awarded, is near the star dedicated to Harry Houdini. The following day they were recognized by the Magic Castle with the "Magicians of the Year" award.

Teller almost never speaks while performing, although there are occasional exceptions, usually when the audience is not aware of it. For example, he provided the voice of "Mofo the psychic gorilla" in their early Broadway show with the help of a radio microphone cupped in his hand. Teller's trademark silence originated during his youth, when he earned a living performing magic at college fraternity parties. He found that if he maintained silence throughout his act, spectators refrained from throwing beer and heckling him and focused more on his performance.

Other exceptions to his silent act include instances in which his face is covered or obscured, as when he spoke while covered with a plastic sheet in the series premiere of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!,Penn & Teller: Bullshit!; "Talking to the Dead"; Episode 1.1; January 23, 2003 and when he was interviewed while in shadow for the 2010 History Channel documentary, Houdini: Unlocking the Mystery,Houdini: Unlocking the Mystery; History Channel; Viewed June 10, 2010 while Teller spoke at length in an NPR story on Houdini in 2010. He was also interviewed, with his mouth obscured in shadow, in the Nova ScienceNow episode "How Does the Brain Work?" Teller appears to have said "Science" in a high-pitched voice in Penn and Teller's appearance on the television show Bill Nye the Science Guy, namely the episode "Light Optics," but he mouthed the word while Penn used a ventriloquist technique to make it sound as if Teller had spoken while keeping his mouth from moving. Penn and Teller appear as comedians Rebo and Zooty in the 5th season episode of Babylon 5, "The Day of the Dead," written by Neil Gaiman. Teller also spoke in his 1987 appearance on NBC's Miami Vice (a fourth-season episode titled, "Like a Hurricane"),http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0647088/ and had speaking parts in the movies Penn & Teller Get Killed (he speaks in the final scene), Long Gone and The Aristocrats. He gave voice to an animated version of himself in two episodes of The Simpsons ("Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder" and "The Great Simpsina"), and voiced a series of cloned store clerks in Zoey's Zoo, an episode of Oh Yeah! Cartoons, as well as the English version of the 1988 animated feature "Light Years" (Original French: Gandahar) where he was the voice of Octum. Teller speaks at length about magic performance and sleight-of-hand in the documentary "Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour". Teller has been shown screaming and swearing in the Anger Management episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!. More recently, Teller had a brief speaking part in Atlas Shrugged: Part II where he advises Dagny Taggart (played by Samantha Mathis) to go out the side door of the Taggart Transcontinental offices.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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