First and foremost, Uri Geller is an entertainer. He has performed as a magician, television personality, and a psychic. His most popular feats of psychic power include bending spoons and other objects using telekinesis. These days, he prefers to be known as a “mystifier,” having discarded his title as a self-proclaimed psychic.
Since the beginning of his career, Geller has dedicated himself to inspiring a sense of awe and wonder in his audiences. Geller was born in Tel Aviv, Israel to Jewish immigrant parents from Eastern Europe.
He first took to the stage as a 22-year-old in the late 60s, becoming well known for his night club performances in Israel. Soon, he was booking performances in many more venues, ranging from theatres to military bases to universities. It wasn't until the 1970s that his fame spread outside of Israel, but by then Geller had gained real traction, and he was soon broadcasting his performances across Europe, America, and the rest of the world.
Once established as an international celebrity, Geller made a number of psychic predictions that failed to follow through according to his projections. Though he made regular predictions as to the outcomes of various sporting matches, one skeptic, James Randi, found that Geller's predictions for the winning team lost more often than they won.
Geller's ability to consistently choose the losers in place of the victors became known in some circles as “The Curse of Uri Geller.” In another incident, Geller was asked to assist in the investigation of as missing Hungarian model. Although Geller predicted that she was, at the time, alive and well, she was later found murdered.
Nevertheless, Geller's talent as a television personality has held strong through the years. He has continued to appear on TV through the late 2000s, and documentaries are still being made about him. Geller's early television work was primarily of his performances. Through the early 2000s, he appeared in a horror movie, Sanitarium (2001), as well as multiple reality shows, in which he was both a participant and a host.
He joined the first season of the BBC's “I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!”, as well as multiple shows in which other paranormal entertainers, magicians, and mentalists competed with each other. One show, The Successor, featured him as co-host with Criss Angel, and featured the duo searching for the next great mentalist.
As an international celebrity for almost forty years, Geller has made acquaintance and become friends with many other famous entertainers. He has decorated a 1976 Cadillac with thousands of spoons, forks, and knives either gifted to him by fellow celebrities, or which hold other personal significance.
Some of the tableware was donated by performers as famous as the Spice Girls, or John Lennon. Others were purportedly used by the likes of Winston Churchhill, and John F. Kennedy. Geller's most well-known and intimate relationship was with the late Michael Jackson. The King of Pop acted as the best man at Geller's renewal of his marriage, and their friendship lasted up until Jackson's death.
Over the entire course of Geller's career, the scientific community has taken particular interest in his claims of psychic ability. Geller was famously targeted by the skepticism of Richard Feynman, the “father of the atomic bomb,” and an amateur magician himself. Along with other critics, Feynman accused Geller of being no more than a magician, and proposed that all of Geller's feats could be duplicated using basic stage tricks.
One of Geller's chief critics is skeptic James Randi. Randi has repeatedly shown how Geller's performances might be duplicated with stage magic, and performed the tricks himself to prove how they might be done. Randi has stated in the past that if Geller is truly using his psychic powers to perform, he is “doing it the hard way.” Randi has continued to criticize Geller's performances, and in 2007 pointed out that Geller seems to have stopped calling himself a “psychic” altogether.
Geller had long stated that he has been endowed with supernatural powers given to him by extraterrestrials. This array of powers has included making stopped clocks move again, bending hard objects with his mind, and describing pictures that he cannot see. Critics like Feynman and Randi persist in their refutations of Geller's feats as genuine displays of psychic power. Notably, early on in Geller's career, two scientists from the Stanford Research Institute stated that they believed Geller's claims to be based on fact. Since then, no scientists have come forward to defend Geller's powers.
In the past, Geller has leveled litigation suits against his critics, in particular James Randi, whom he has accused of libel. These suits have not been wholly successful. In 1989, Randi was quoted by a Japanese newspaper as saying that Geller had induced a scientist to “shoot himself in the head.” According to a Canadian newspaper that later also repeated this story, this scientist, a metallurgist, had investigated Geller's claims of spoon bending and concluded that Geller was indeed psychic.
However, after being shown proof of Geller's fradulence by Randi, this scientist had fallen into despair and taken his own life. Randi later claimed that the initial statement had only been a metaphor that was lost in translation. The subsequent story in the Canadian newspaper had quoted the Japanese article rather than Randi himself, and thus Randi was not culpable on that count either.
Ultimately, the Japanese court in which Geller had sued Randi decided that the incident constituted “insult” rather than libel, and Randi's fine was reduced to a piddling “one third of one percent” of Geller's initial demand.
Geller took Randi to court for $15 million dollars in 1992 for further statements made in the International Herald Tribune. After a long and arduous case, Geller and Randi mutually settled with the agreement thatwhile Randi would not pay the fine that had been ordered from him in the Japanese court system, future copies of Psychics and Psychics from publisher Prometheus Books would have to insert errata to correct erroneous statements made about Geller.
These days, Geller seems to take little interest in whether or not people believe he is paranormally gifted. As a self-described mystifier, he chooses to bestow upon his audience a sense of curiosity and wonder. Whether this wonder derives from a belief in the supernatural, or simply the desire to know how Geller could possibly have achieved a given effect is of no consequence, so long as Geller knows he has brought a spark of intrigue to his audience's lives.
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