Magician George Schindler, Dean of the national Society of American Magicians, wrote on Facebook: "It is especially difficult to lose a boyhood friend. Kenneth Silverman died peacefully at age 81 in New York. He was one of the few remaining members of Peter Pan’s magic club of the 1940’s. . . .The magic community mourns his loss."
Silverman was born in Manhattan and as a teenager performed as magician Ken Silvers. The Peter Pan magic club, which was sponsored by the New York City Department of Parks, was a nexus of magic among young New Yorkers for decades and included many figures who eventually became influential in magic and remained friends for decades. Silverman was a life member of the Society of American Magicians and was a member of Parent Assembly, the local New York City chapter of the S. A. M., for more than fifty years.
Silverman's 1996 book on Houdini received a lengthy New York Times review written by Teller, who pointed out the many new threads of information about the escape artist that Silverman discovered in his extensive research. "To uncover so many previously unknown details of the master mystifier's life would be enough to merit applause," Teller wrote. "To examine Houdini and his world with such originality and depth deserves a standing ovation."
According to an obituary on the blog Wild About Harry Silverman is survived by his partner Jane Mallison, by his two children, Willa and Ethan, daughter-in-law Ronit, and three grandchildren: Benjamin, Eve and Isaac.
In 2006, after David Blaine's underwater endurance performance on the outdoor plaza at Lincoln Center, Silverman explored the history of public magic events in an opinion piece he wrote for The New York Times. It can be read here.