NewsThe Lord of the Spoons

The Lord of the Spoons

As a child, Uri Geller thought that anyone can bend cutlery. Today the world-famous “mystifier” celebrates his 75th birthday.

The black Cadillac is covered over and over with spoons and forks, all of which are bent – Uri Geller’s trademark. Signs with the names of the previous owners of cutlery hang on a pillar next to the vehicle: “I know most of the spoons, I have James Dean, I have Elizabeth Taylor, I have Ataturk, I have Ben Gurion …”, Geller lists. Today the man who calls himself a “mystifier” is 75 years old, but he looks significantly younger. He became known in Germany in 1974 with his appearance on Wim Thoelke’s ZDF show “Drei mal nine”, when he bent cutlery live on television. However, his success also called on numerous critics who tried again and again to convict him as a con man.

Geller – short hair, glasses, gray T-shirt – speaks quickly and hurries from one exhibit to the next. The Cadillac is part of the Uri Geller Museum in the old town of Jaffa, the Arab suburb of Tel Aviv. Since 2020 Geller has presented his collection of personal items, his old Vespa, but also photos of the family and art, such as Andy Warhol.

“There is Princess Diana’s carpet down there”, and “the most important thing was the gift from Salvador Dali”. Geller points to a glass ball made by Leonardo da Vinci, to a record cover that he designed for Michael Jackson, to a camera that he received from the US secret service CIA, to a letter from Albert Einstein. “It’s so eclectic,” says Geller of the exhibition. It presents around 220 pieces on an area of 500 square meters. The walls in the 400-year-old building are made of light-colored sandstone, and the ceilings are up to eight meters high.

Geller returned to his hometown of Tel Aviv six years ago, after around 35 years in the UK. He was born as the only child of his parents in the coastal city in what was then Palestine, now Israel. His relationship with his father was difficult, says Geller himself, but he made his peace with him. The mother was a distant relative of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. Uri bends a spoon for the first time at the age of five. “I ate soup with my mother in the kitchen.” That’s when it happened. “And then I thought anyone can do it.”

The parents divorce when Uri is ten years old. He goes to Cyprus with his mother. After leaving school, he served in Israel’s army, fought in the Six Day War in 1967. Five years later he moved to Germany, lived in Munich for eight months and then went to the USA – to work for the CIA, as he says. He is already commercially successful with bending spoons, stopping and repairing watches. He becomes world famous for his “skills”, as he calls them.

Geller lived in New York for ten years, the legendary “Studio 54” is around the corner. “Everyone was there, from David Bowie to John Lennon to Elton John, Mick Jagger.” And everyone would have wanted to meet him – although he was not a celebrity, but “a guy from Israel who could bend spoons with his mind”.

He is now quite critical of his success in the beginning: “I was so shallow, I was on such an ego trip, I bought the Cadillac to show my friends in Israel: I made it.” He developed bulimia , gets panic attacks. At some point John Lennon said to him: “You look like an Auschwitz survivor.” The ex-Beatle sent him to Japan. He lived there with his wife in the forest for a year. “And that’s where I found myself.”

Skepticism gave him a boost

Geller was often criticized as a con man. In 1973 he failed to prove his skills on the US show by Johnny Carson. “I sat there for 22 minutes, humiliated, and thought: Uri, that’s it, you’re done.” The next morning, another talk show asked if he wanted to appear there. “It doesn’t matter as long as they talk about me,” is Geller’s conclusion. “All the skeptics who fought against me created a mysticism, the energy of the unknown, the debate, and that was perfect for me in my career.”

For his birthday, his daughter wants to come from Los Angeles with her two granddaughters, says Geller. He hadn’t planned a celebration. “It’s Corona times.” Unfortunately, his son, who advises the English government, could not come.

And how does it work now with the bending? He doesn’t have a spoon at hand, but he does have a fork. “Look, it happens very quickly.” He holds the fork in one hand, rubs the handle with the fingers of the other – and suddenly the fork is bent at an angle of 90 degrees. He thinks nothing of it, he says. “I’ve gotten so used to it these days. I just order her to bend. ”Stefanie Järkel, dpa

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