Magic Castle co-founder Irene Larsen died unexpectedly last week, sending a community of magicians, entertainers, and exclusive guests of the establishment into a period of mourning. Larsen, along with her late husband Bill Larsen and his brother Milt, turned a striking Franklin Avenue Chateau into a secretive temple to the magical arts.
Together, the Larsens turned the residence into a members-only gathering place (though there are other ways to get in) that has become a popular site for celebrities and fans of the occult alike. Thanks in part to Irene, the place also looks the part. Larsen was responsible for many of the design features around the castle, including a gnome forest.
The castle has many such eccentric features, including trap doors, lavish murals, and chandeliers from Bullock's Department Store. In recent years, it has also played host to a Vaudeville-style show put on by Larsen's daughter Erika.
Larsen's death leaves Milt as the last surviving member of the founding trio behind one of LA's oddest and most iconic landmarks.
RIP Irene Larsen. We shared many great laughs and the world was better with you in it! pic.twitter.com/0mt9dLnp4Z— Joel Ward (@joelward) February 26, 2016
So extremely sorry to have her pass away. She was a leader, an inspiration and powerful activist for— DrewThomasMagic.com (@DrewThomasMagic) February 28, 2016
our world... https://t.co/yopnFhnWfi
Irene Larsen was a special person in the world of magic. Our condolences to the family. pic.twitter.com/AbeEvgv9vk— FISM (@FISMmagic) February 26, 2016
- Irene Larsen, Co-Founder of the Magic Castle, Has Passed Away [LA Magazine]
- Community mourns death of pioneer in magic [Beverly Press]
- The Story of the Magic Castle, One of the Most LA Places in LA [Curbed LA]
- The Story Of The Magic Castle Family's Semi-Private Home Theater In Mid-Wilshire [Curbed LA]