Famed Magician and Skeptic James Randi Dies at 92: 'A Crusader Against Fakes, Flimflam and Frauds'
James Randi became known for insisting that his amazing feats were based on tricks and not magic
James Randi, the famed magician who became known for debunking paranormal activity, has died, his foundation announced. He was 92.
In a statement on its website, the James Randi Educational Foundation confirmed the magician's death, writing, "We are very sad to say that James Randi passed away [Tuesday], due to age-related causes."
"He had an amazing life. We will miss him," the foundation continued. "Please respect [husband] Deyvi Peña’s privacy during this difficult time."
Born in Toronto, Canada, Randi grew to be a well-known magician around the world — though he insisted that his amazing feats, which included escaping from a straitjacket as he hung upside-down over Niagara Falls, were based on tricks and not magic, BBC News reported.
During an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1972, Randi helped Carson set up the stage for Israeli performer Uri Geller, who said he could bend spoons with his mind, according to the Associated Press.
True to his character, Randi insisted that the spoons and other props were kept away from Geller until his live performance to ensure the authenticity of the trick — and as it turned out, for a full 22 minutes, Geller was unable to bend the spoons, the outlet reported.
Randi also disputed the abilities of faith healers, such as televangelist Peter Popoff, BBC News reported. When Popoff claimed he was receiving messages from God about the audience, Randi exposed that he was actually wearing an earpiece, according to the outlet.
In 1996, he founded The James Randi Educational Foundation "to help people defend themselves from paranormal and pseudoscientific claims," according to his website. The foundation still notably offers a million-dollar reward to anyone who claims they can prove paranormal abilities.
Despite constantly debunking others who claimed they had supernatural abilities, Randi was still revered by the magic community and became known as the country's biggest skeptic, according to AP.
"I see people being swindled every day by medical quackery, frauds of every sort, psychics and their hotlines, people who claim to be able to find lost children or to help them invest their money. I know they are being swindled because I know the methods being used," he told the AP of his reputation in 1998.
Aside from challenging others, Randi's career also included a brief stint on tour with singer Alice Cooper in the 70s, where he would perform fake executions of the singer on stage, according to BBC News.
In 2015, Randi retired from his foundation and moved to Florida, his website stated. There, he occasionally lectured and made appearances.
Following the news of his death, several stars and magicians expressed their condolences on social media and discussed the major impact Randi had on their lives and careers.
"Goodbye to the truly Amazing James Randi, our inspiration, mentor and dear friend. We will love you forever," famed magician Penn Jillette wrote on Twitter, alongside a photo of the pair.
"The last picture of me and Randi," Jillette added in a separate tweet. "I can’t type through the tears. This will be a hard day of making tv. I love you Randi. You invented us."
"We’ve lost one of the greats," tweeted scientist Bill Nye. "James Randi was an amazing man, a wonderful magician, and a thoughtful intellectual who brought the joy of scientific inquiry to millions. He left the world better than he found it. He will be missed."
Added magician David Kwong: "There will never be another like the amazing James Randi. One of a kind. A crusader against fakes, flimflam and frauds. Thank you for your brilliance."