October 21, 2002 12:00 PM

Magician David Blaine stands on a pillar for 35 hours. Polite applause, please. Truth is, sitcom star and lifelong prestidigitator Harry Anderson has pulled off a more astonishing feat. He vanished from Hollywood and (poof!) rematerialized 1,683 miles away—as the proud proprietor of Spade &c Archer Curiosities by Appointment, a New Orleans magic shop.

Opened on April Fool’s Day in the city’s French Quarter, Spade & Archer (named for Sam Spade’s detective agency in The Maltese Falcon) is crammed with loaded dice, trick wallets, marked cards, linking rings, two-headed coins, carny machines, disappearing scarves—things Anderson collected when he was still a wryly goofy magician who never dreamed he’d end up a wryly goofy sitcom star. Thanks to Night Court (1984-92) and Dave’s World (1993-97), “I am richer than Davy Crockett,” says Anderson, 50. “I can settle back and do what I want to do. And what I want to do is card tricks and magic.’ That includes magic shows for corporate clients (“Fifty-five minutes with applause,” says Anderson) at $20,000 a pop.

Disenchanted by the prospect of chasing acting roles into middle age—”I don’t understand why guys have that Don Knotts syndrome of having to be out there”—Anderson sold his home in Pasadena last year and moved back to New Orleans, where he had lived in the ’70s. He now lives above his shop with a macaw named Spencer and second wife Elizabeth Morgan, 29, whom he met in 2000 while she was tending bar at Marie Laveau’s Voodoo Bar in New Orleans.

Tourists and locals, who recognize Anderson when he’s having a gin fizz at Tujague’s, instinctively greet him as an old friend. “Everybody’s impression of him is very warm,” says his wife. The shop is open only to serious aficionados of arcane arts. “Any John Doe can phone us,” says Anderson, “but that doesn’t mean we’ll make an appointment. For instance, shoplifters shouldn’t call.”

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