Magic Castle co-founder Irene Larsen dies at 79

Irene Larsen, co-founder of the Magic Castle, has died at 79.

Larsen passed away at her home at the Brookledge estate in Hancock Park, according to the Magic Castle’s Facebook page.

In the early 1960s, Larsen, along with her late husband Bill and brother-in-law Milt, took an old Hollywood Mansion and spent months restoring and transforming it into the Magic Castle.

The mansion opened January 1963, and now counts about 2,500 magician members as the official clubhouse of the Academy of Magical Arts.

“From the Castle’s earliest days, Irene and her husband, AMA President for Life, Bill Larsen Jr., spent each evening greeting guests as they walked through the doors… a practice she frequently continued, right up until her untimely death,” according to the Facebook post.

"She was such a giant in Los Angeles and entertainment, and had spent more than 50 years making that castle just the world-wide center of all things magic and variety arts in LA," said Chris Nichols, who wrote Larsen's obit for LA Magazine. "It's developed into this labyrinth of just floor after floor after hidden floor, you don't exactly know where you're at sometimes when you're in that place."

Take Two speaks with Chris Nichols of LA Magazine about Larsen's life and legacy. To hear the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.