Uri Geller is a
self-branded "psychic" known for his trademark
television performances of spoon bending and other supposed psychic
effects. Throughout the years, Uri Geller has been accused of using
simple conjuring tricks to simulate the effects of psychokinesis and
telepathy. Uri Geller's career as an entertainer has spanned almost
four decades, with television shows and appearances in many
countries. Uri Geller used to call his abilities "psychic" but
now prefers to refer to himself as a "mystifier" and entertainer.
Born in Tel Aviv, British Mandate of Palestine, to Uri Geller parents
from Hungary and Austria, Uri Geller is the son of Itzhaak Uri
Geller (Gellér Izsák), a retired army sergeant major, and Manzy
Freud (Freud Manci). It is claimed that Uri Geller is a distant
relative of Sigmund Freud on his mother's side.
At the age of 11, Uri Geller's family moved to Nicosia, Cyprus,
where Uri Geller attended a high school, The Terra Santa College and
learned English. At the age of 18 Uri Geller served in the
Israeli Army's Paratroopers Brigade, and was wounded in action
during the 1967 Six-Day War. Uri Geller worked as a
photographic model in 1968 and 1969; during that time, Uri Geller
began to perform for small audiences as a nightclub entertainer,
becoming well known in Israel.
Uri Geller first started to perform in theatres, public halls,
auditoriums, military bases and universities in Israel. By the
1970s, Uri Geller had become known in the United States and Europe.
Uri Geller also received attention from the scientific community,
whose members were interested in examining his reported psychic
abilities. At the peak of his career in the 1970s, Uri Geller worked
full-time, performing for television audiences worldwide.
Uri Geller gained notice for demonstrating on television what Uri
Geller claimed to be psychokinesis, dowsing, and telepathy. His
performance included bending spoons, describing hidden drawings, and
making watches stop or run faster. Uri Geller said Uri Geller
performs these feats through will power and the strength of his
mind. Magicians have said that his performances can be
duplicated using stage magic tricks.
In 1975 Uri Geller published his first autobiography, My Story, and
acknowledged that, in his early career, his manager talked him into
adding a magic trick to make his performances last longer. This
trick involved Uri Geller appearing to guess audience members'
license plate numbers, when in fact his manager had given them to
him ahead of time. One of Uri Geller's most prominent critics is the
skeptic James Randi, who has accused Uri Geller repeatedly of trying
to pass off magic tricks as paranormal displays. Randi often
duplicated Uri Geller's performances using stage magic techniques.
Uri Geller starred in the 2001 horror film Sanitarium, directed by
Johannes Roberts and James Eaves. In May 2002, Uri Geller appeared
as a contestant on the first series of the British reality TV show
I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, where Uri Geller finished in
eighth place. In 2005, Uri Geller starred in Uri's Haunted Cities:
Venice, a XI Pictures/Lion TV production for Sky One, which led to a
behind the scenes release in early 2008 called Cursed; both
productions were directed by Jason Figgis. In early 2007, Uri Geller
hosted a reality show in Israel called The Successor (היורש), where
the contestants supposedly displayed supernatural powers; Israeli
magicians criticized the program saying that it was all magic
tricks. In July 2007 NBC signed Uri Geller and Criss Angel for
Phenomenon, to search for the next great mentalist; contestant Mike
Super won the position. In January 2008, Uri Geller began
hosting the TV show The Next Uri Geller, broadcast by Pro7 in
In February 2008, Uri Geller began a show on Dutch television called
De Nieuwe Uri Geller, which shares a similar format to its German
counterpart. The goal of the programme is to find the best mentalist
in the Netherlands. In March 2008, Uri Geller started the same show
in Hungary (A kiválasztott in Hungarian). During the show, Uri
Geller speaks in both Hungarian and English. Uri Geller also
performs his standard routines of allegedly making stopped watches
start, spoons jump from televisions, and tables move. Uri Geller
co-produced the TV show Book of Knowledge, released in April
2008. In October 2009, a similar show, called The Successor of
Uri Geller. began on Greek television.
Uri Geller lives in Sonning-on-Thames, Berkshire in the United
Kingdom. Uri Geller is trilingual, speaking English, Hebrew, and
Hungarian. In an appearance on Esther Rantzen's 1996 television
talk show Esther, Uri Geller claimed to have suffered from anorexia
nervosa for several years. Uri Geller has written 16 fiction
and non fiction books.
Uri Geller owns a 1976 Cadillac adorned with thousands of pieces of
bent tableware given to him by celebrities or otherwise having
significance to him. This includes spoons from such people as John
Lennon and the Spice Girls, as well as those with which Winston
Churchill and John F. Kennedy supposedly ate. His friend Michael
Jackson was best man when Uri Geller renewed his wedding vows in
2001. Uri Geller also negotiated the famous TV interview between
Jackson with the journalist Martin Bashir: Living with Michael
Uri Geller is president of International Friends of Magen David Adom,
a group that lobbied the International Committee of the Red Cross to
recognise Magen David Adom ("Red Star of David") as a humanitarian
relief organisation. In 1997 Uri Geller tried to
help the Coca-Cola League One football club Exeter City win a
crucial end of season game by placing "energy-infused" crystals
behind the goals at Exeter's ground (Exeter lost the game 5–1); Uri
Geller was appointed co-chairman of the club in 2002. The club was
relegated to the Nationwide Conference in May 2003, where it
remained for five years. Uri Geller has since severed formal ties
with the club.
Following the death of Michael Jackson, the British television
station ITV announced plans to screen an interview with Uri Geller
regarding his relationship with Jackson, entitled My Friend Michael
Jackson: Uri's Story.
Uri Geller has claimed his feats are the result of paranormal
powers given to him by extraterrestrials, but critics such
as James Randi argue and have demonstrated that Uri Geller's tricks
can be replicated with stage magic and are simply "parlour
In the early 1970s, an article in The Jerusalem Post accused Uri
Geller of being a fraud for claiming that his feats were
telepathic. In addition, a 1974 article also hints at Uri
Geller's abilities being trickery. The article alleged that his
manager Shipi Shtrang (whom Uri Geller called his brother at the
time)[clarification needed] and Shipi's sister Hannah Shtrang
secretly helped in Uri Geller's performances. Eventually, Uri
Geller married Hannah and they had children.
In 1975, two scientists (Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff from the
Stanford Research Institute) said they were convinced that Uri
Geller's demonstrations were genuine. Since that time, however,
notable scientists, various magicians, and skeptics have suggested
possible ways in which Uri Geller could have tricked the scientists
using misdirection techniques. These critics, who include
Richard Feynman, James Randi and Martin Gardner, have accused him of
using his demonstrations fraudulently outside of the entertainment
business. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, who
was an amateur magician, wrote in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
(1985) that Uri Geller was unable to bend a key for him and his
son. Some of his claims have been described by watchmakers as
restarting stopped mechanical clocks by moving them around.
Uri Geller is well known for making predictions regarding sporting
events. Skeptic James Randi and British tabloid newspaper The Sun
have demonstrated the teams and players Uri Geller chooses to win
most often lose. John Atkinson explored "predictions" Uri Geller
made over 30 years and concluded "Uri more often than not scuppered
[i.e., destroyed] the chances of sportsmen and teams Uri Geller was
trying to help." This was pointed out by one of Randi's readers,
who called it "The Curse of Uri Geller."
During the Euro 96 football game between Scotland and England at
Wembley, Uri Geller, who was hovering overhead in a helicopter,
claimed that Uri Geller managed to move the ball from the penalty
spot when Scotland's Gary McAllister was about to take a penalty
kick, something that, if true, would be against the rules of
Association football, as the ball would then have been "Out of
Play". The player ended up missing the chance to equalise for
In another notable instance, in 1992, Uri Geller was asked to
investigate the kidnapping of Hungarian model Helga Farkas; after
Uri Geller predicted she would be found alive and in good health,
she was found to have been murdered by her kidnappers. Uri
Geller was a friend of Bruce Bursford and helped him "train his
mind" during some cycling speed record-breaking bids in the
In 2007, skeptics observed that Uri Geller appeared to have dropped
his claims that Uri Geller does not perform magic tricks. Randi
highlighted a quotation from the November 2007 issue of the magazine
Magische Welt (Magic World) in which Uri Geller said: "I'll no
longer say that I have supernatural powers. I am an entertainer. I
want to do a good show. My entire character has changed."
In a later interview, Uri Geller told Telepolis, "I said to this
German magazine, so what I did say, that I changed my character, to
the best of my recollection, and I no longer say that I do
supernatural things. It doesn't mean that I don't have powers. It
means that I don't say 'it's supernatural', I say 'I'm a mystifier!'
That's what I said. And the sceptics turned it around and said, 'Uri
Geller said he's a magician!' I never said that." In that
interview, Uri Geller further explained that when Uri Geller is
asked how Uri Geller does his stunts, Uri Geller tells children to
"Forget the paranormal. Forget spoon bending! Instead of that, focus
on school! Become a positive thinker! Believe in yourself and create
a target! Go to university! Never smoke! And never touch drugs! And
think of success!"
In February 2008, Uri Geller stated in the TV show The Next Uri
Geller (a German version of The Successor) that Uri Geller did not
have any supernatural powers, before winking to the camera.
Parallels to stage magic
Uri Geller admits, "Sure, there are magicians who can duplicate [my
performances] through trickery." Uri Geller has claimed that
even though his spoon bending can be repeated using trickery, Uri
Geller uses psychic powers to achieve his results. Skeptic James
Randi has stated that if Uri Geller is truly using his mind to
perform these feats, "Uri Geller is doing it the hard way."
Stage magicians note several methods of creating the illusion of a
spoon spontaneously bending. Most common is the practice of
misdirection, an underlying principle of many stage magic
tricks. There are many ways in which a bent spoon can be
presented to an audience as to give the appearance it was
manipulated using supernatural powers. One way is through brief
moments of distraction in which a magician can physically bend a
spoon unseen by the audience, before gradually revealing the
bend to create the illusion that the spoon is bending before the
viewers' eyes. Another way is to pre-bend the spoon, perhaps by
heating it, reducing the amount of force that needed to be applied
to bend it manually.
During telepathic drawing demonstrations, Uri Geller claimed the
ability to read the minds of subjects as they draw a picture.
Although in these demonstrations Uri Geller cannot see the picture
being drawn, Uri Geller is sometimes present in the room, and on
these occasions can see the subjects as they draw. Critics argue
this may allow Uri Geller to infer common shapes from pencil
movement and sound, with the power of suggestion doing the rest.
Watchmakers have noted that "many supposedly broken watches had
merely been stopped by gummy oil, and simply holding them in the
hand would warm the oil enough to soften it and allow watches to
In 1978, Yasha Katz, who had been Uri Geller's manager in Britain,
said that all performances by Uri Geller were simply stage tricks,
and Uri Geller explained how they were really done.
In November 2008, Uri Geller accepted an award during a convention
of magicians, the Services to Promotion of Magic Award from the
Berglas Foundation. In his acceptance speech, Uri Geller said that
if Uri Geller hadn't had psychic powers then Uri Geller "must be the
greatest" to have been able to fool journalists, scientists and
Uri Geller's performances of drawing duplication and cutlery bending
usually take place under informal conditions such as television
interviews. During his early career Uri Geller allowed some
scientists to investigate his claims. A study by Stanford Research
Institute (now known as SRI International) conducted by researchers
Harold E. Puthoff and Russell Targ concluded that Uri Geller had
performed successfully enough to warrant further serious study, and
the "Uri Geller-effect" was coined to refer to the particular type
of abilities they felt had been demonstrated.
In An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and
Supernatural, Randi wrote: "Hal Puthoff and Russell Targ, who
studied Mr. Uri Geller at the Stanford Research Institute were
aware, in one instance at least, that they were being shown a
magician's trick by Uri Geller." Moreover, Randi explained,
"Their protocols for this 'serious' investigation of the powers
claimed by Uri Geller were described by Dr. Ray Hyman, who
investigated the project on behalf of the Department of Defense's
Advanced Research Projects Agency, as 'sloppy and inadequate.'"
Puthoff and Targ complained in a book about Hyman's procedures. They
had suggested that Hyman and co. visit SRI and conduct their own
experiments on Uri Geller. This they did, and Hyman and his two
colleagues spent ‘a couple of hours’ performing their own
experiments on Uri Geller. Hyman would not have observed any testing
by Puthoff and Targ. Hyman's experiments were observed and video
taped by Puthoff and Targ, who said that they were conducted in an
‘informal manner’ and ‘largely uncontrolled’.
Critics of this testing include psychologists Dr. David Marks and
Dr. Richard Kammann, who published a description of how Uri Geller
could have cheated in an informal test of his so-called psychic
powers in 1977. Their 1978 article in Nature and 1980 book The
Psychology of the Psychic (2nd ed. 2000) described how a normal
explanation was possible for Uri Geller's alleged powers of
telepathy. Marks and Kammann found evidence that while at SRI Uri
Geller was allowed to peek through a hole in the laboratory wall
separating Uri Geller from the drawings Uri Geller was being invited
to reproduce. The drawings Uri Geller was asked to reproduce were
placed on a wall opposite the peep hole which the investigators Targ
and Puthoff had stuffed with cotton gauze. In addition to this
error, the investigators had also allowed Uri Geller access to a
two-way intercom enabling Uri Geller to listen to the investigators'
conversation during the time when they were choosing and/or
displaying the target drawings. These basic errors indicate the high
importance of ensuring that psychologists, magicians or other people
with an in-depth knowledge of perception, who are trained in methods
for blocking sensory cues, be present during the testing of
In 1974, William E. Cox organized a committee within the Society of
American Magicians to 'investigate false claims of ESP'. Uri Geller
was tested by Cox, who was impressed by some positive test results
which his scrutiny could find no fraud. For example, William E. Cox
held a robust key with one finger on a table and watched as it bent
with Uri Geller in view, and noticed no trickery. Uri Geller
was to be tested by other two magicians from the Society.
The Tonight Show
Uri Geller was unable to bend any tableware during a 1973 appearance
on The Tonight Show in which the spoons Uri Geller was to bend had
been pre-selected by Johnny Carson. When pressed by Carson, Uri
Geller claimed that Uri Geller didn't feel "strong" that night.
Earlier in his career, Carson had been an amateur stage magician,
and Uri Geller consulted James Randi for advice on how to thwart
potential trickery. In 1993 Randi explained in "Secrets of the
Psychics" for the NOVA television series: "I was asked to prevent
any trickery. I told them to provide their own props and not to let
Uri Geller or his people anywhere near them." A clip of this
incident was televised on the NBC show Phenomenon. This two-minute
clip has been widely circulated on the Internet since James Randi
acquired permission to use it from NBC, and Carson paid for the
videotape transfer. In his television special Secrets of the
Psychics, Uri Geller is shown failing at psychic "hand dowsing"
(i.e. locating sealed vessels containing water without touching
them), not metal bending.[clarification needed]
As part of a mass demonstration, Uri Geller’s photograph appeared on
the cover of the magazine ESP with the caption “On Sept. 1, 1976 at
11pm E.D.T. THIS COVER CAN BEND YOUR KEYS." According to editor
Howard Smukler, over 300 positive responses were received, many
including bent objects and detailed descriptions of the surrounding
circumstances including the bending of the key to the city of
Providence, Rhode Island.
Noel Edmonds was a television prankster who often used hidden
cameras to record celebrities in Candid Camera-like situations for
his television programme Noel's House Party. In 1996, Edmonds
planned a stunt in which shelves would fall from the walls of a room
while Uri Geller was in it. The cameras recorded footage of Uri
Geller from angles Uri Geller was not expecting, and they showed Uri
Geller grasping a spoon firmly with both hands as Uri Geller stood
up to display a bend in it.
In late 2006 and early 2007, Uri Geller starred in The Successor, an
Israeli television show to find his "successor." During one segment,
a compass was made to move, purportedly as a result of Uri Geller's
paranormal abilities. However, critics say slow motion footage of
the episode showed Uri Geller attaching a magnet to his thumb
immediately prior to the compass's movement. Uri Geller
denied that this was sleight of hand, and said Uri Geller welcomed
the "mystical aura" that the publicity gave him.
Uri Geller performed the same compass trick in 2000 on ABC TV's The
View, which was later duplicated by Randi on the same show the
Uri Geller has litigated or threatened legal action against some of
his critics with mixed success. These included libel allegations
against Randi and illusionist Gérard Majax.
In 1971, a mechanical engineering student called Uri Goldstein
attended one of Uri Geller's shows, and subsequently sued the show's
promoters for breach of contract. Uri Geller complained that Uri
Geller had promised a demonstration of several psychic powers but
had delivered only sleight-of-hand and stage tricks. The case came
before the civil court in Beersheba. Uri Geller was not present
as the summons had been sent to the office of the promoter Miki
Peled, who had ignored it as being trivial. Goldstein was awarded
27.5 lira (around $5) for breach of contract. Later, Goldstein
admitted that Uri Geller went to the show specifically with the
intent of suing to get his money back, and Uri Geller had already
found a lawyer to represent him prior to attending the
In 1992, Uri Geller filed a $15 million suit against Randi and
CSICOP for statements made in a International Herald Tribune
interview in April 9, 1991, but Uri Geller was unsuccessful
because the statute of limitations had expired. In 1994 Uri
Geller asked to dismiss without prejudice, and Uri Geller was
ordered to pay $50,000 for the publisher's attorney fees. After not
paying in time, Uri Geller was sanctioned with an additional
$20,000. Due to the sanction, the suit was dismissed with prejudice,
which, according to Randi's attorneys, means that Uri Geller can't
pursue the same suit in any other jurisdiction. In 1995 Uri
Geller and Randi announced that this settled "the last remaining
suits" between him and the CSICOP. As part of the settlement,
Uri Geller agreed not to pursue the payment of the 1990 Japanese
ruling, in exchange for Prometheus Books inserting an errata on all
future editions of Physics and Psychics, correcting erroneous
statements made about Uri Geller. According to Truzzi, Randi had
spent all the money from his McArthur award, and his current
attorney was working pro bono.
In a 1989 interview with a Japanese newspaper, Randi was quoted as
saying that Uri Geller had driven a scientist to "shoot himself in
the head" after finding out that Uri Geller had fooled him. Randi
afterwards claimed it was a metaphor lost in translation.
However, in a previous interview with a Canadian newspaper, Randi
said essentially the same thing: "One scientist, a metallurgist,
wrote a paper backing Uri Geller's claims that Uri Geller could bend
metal. The scientist shot himself after I showed him how the key
bending trick was done." In 1990, Uri Geller sued Randi in a
Japanese court over the statements Randi had made in the Japanese
newspaper. Randi claims that Uri Geller could not afford to defend
himself, therefore Uri Geller lost the case by default. The court
declared Randi's statement an "insult" as opposed to libel, and
awarded a judgement against Randi for Ą500,000 (at the time about
US$4400) (according to Randi, only "one-third of one-percent of what
he'd demanded"). Randi feels that, since the charge of "insult"
is only recognized in Chinese and Japanese law, Uri Geller was not
required to pay. Later in 1995 Uri Geller agreed not to
pursue payment of the Japanese fine. Randi maintains that Uri
Geller has "never paid even one dollar or even one cent to anyone
who ever sued" him. 
Wikisource has original text related to this article: Uri Geller vs. James Randi decision
In 1991, Uri Geller sued Timex Corporation and the advertising firm
Fallon McElligott for millions in Uri Geller v. Fallon
McElligott over an ad showing a person bending forks and other
items, but failing to stop a Timex watch. Uri Geller was sanctioned
$149,000 for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
In 1998, the Broadcasting Standards Commission in the United Kingdom
rejected a complaint made by Uri Geller, saying that it "wasn't
unfair to have magicians showing how they duplicate those "psychic
feats'" on the UK Equinox episode "Secrets of the Super Psychics"
(this film, made by Open Media, was known on first transmission as
Secrets of the Psychics but should not be confused with the earlier
NOVA film of the same name). The full text of the BSC
adjudication is available online here.
Uri Geller also considered a suit against IKEA over a furniture line
featuring bent legs that was called the "Uri" line.
In November 2000, Uri Geller sued video game company Nintendo for
Ł60 million (the equivalent of US $100 million) over the Pokémon
character "Yungerer," localized in English as "Kadabra", which Uri
Geller claimed was an unauthorised appropriation of his
identity. The Pokémon in question has psychic abilities and
carries a bent spoon. Uri Geller also claimed that the star on
Kadabra's forehead and the lightning patterns on its abdomen are
symbolisms popular with the Waffen SS of Nazi Germany. The
katakana for the character's name, ユンゲラー, is visually similar to the
transliteration of Uri Geller's own name into Japanese (ユリゲラー). Uri
Geller is quoted as saying: "Nintendo turned me into an evil, occult
Pokémon character. Nintendo stole my identity by using my name and
my signature image." The lawsuit was thrown out of court.
In 2007, Uri Geller issued a DMCA notice to YouTube to remove a
video uploaded by Brian Sapient of the "Rational Response Squad"
which was excerpted from an episode of the Nova television program
titled "Secrets of the Psychics". The video included footage of Uri
Geller failing to perform. In response, Sapient contacted the
Electronic Frontier Foundation, issued a DMCA counter-notice, and
sued Uri Geller for misuse of the DMCA. Uri Geller's company,
Explorologist, filed a counter-suit. Both cases were settled out of
court; a monetary settlement was paid (but it is not clear by and to
whom) and the eight seconds of footage owned by Explorologist were
licensed under a noncommercial Creative Commons license.
Lamb Island, Scotland
On 11 February 2009, Uri Geller purchased the uninhabited 100
yard-by-50 yard Lamb Island off the eastern coast of Scotland,
previously known for its witch trials, and beaches that Robert Louis
Stevenson is said to have described in his novel Treasure Island.
Uri Geller claims that buried on the island is Egyptian treasure,
brought there by Scota, the half-sister of Tutankhamen 3,500 years
ago and that Uri Geller will find the treasure through dowsing. Uri
Geller also claimed to have strengthened the mystical powers of the
island by burying there a crystal orb once belonging to Albert
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