Thursday, June 24, 2004

Oldest chicken makes magic for Alabama act

Keith Barton, a magician in Hueytown, Ala. with Mississippi ties, received national attention after Matilda, a 14-year-old chicken featured in his magic act, was officially named the "World's Oldest Living Chicken" by Guinness World Records.

Barton was born at Keesler Air Force Base, grew up in Gulfport and graduated from Harrison Central. His father, James Barton of Orange Grove, still lives in South Mississippi.

During the "Mort the Mystifying" magic show, Matilda's role is to appear in a pan that contained only an egg yolk and some hot sauce moments earlier. Barton's wife, Donna, is also in the act as the magician's assistant.

Matilda has practically doubled the lifespan of a normal chicken, which is 7 or 8 years. Matilda has never laid eggs and is very pampered, and Donna Barton said she believes both contribute to Matilda's long life.

The Bartons began performing their magic show in 1989 for children at libraries and churches. In July 1991, Matilda made her magic show debut.

Barton is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians, International Brotherhood Of Magicians and Ring 35 (Judge Arnold Drennen Ring) of Birmingham.
He has extensive training in magic, including completion of the home-study course offered by Chavez College Of Magic in Los Angeles. He also spent a year mastering the Chinese Linking Rings, which are one of his signature routines.

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