Images from Egyptian Hall: Will Nicola

Images from Egyptian Hall: Will Nicola

Will Nicola (seen on the right) was another globe-trotting illusionist from America. Young Will learned the magic business as an assistant in his father’s magic act and his older brother, Charles, who would gain his own fame as Von Arx, also mentored Will in the mysterious arts. Will’s first performance on his own occurred at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition held in Omaha, Nebraska in 1898. During the run of the Fair he became friends with the great Chinese magician, Ching Ling Foo, who was visiting America for the first time. Twelve years later, with his own full-evening show, Will had set forth on his first world-tour. While appearing in Tientsin, China, a familiar face turned up at the theater. It was Ching Ling Foo. This photo was taken in front of the theater to commemorate their reunion. In 1938 Nicola was on his fourth world tour working very successfully through Australia and New Zealand. From there they sailed to Java and then on to Singapore. It was during this engagement in November of 1939 that WW II broke out in Europe. Nicola thought it best to suspend the rest of his tour and cancelled his bookings in India. The show, as well as a large quantity of Chinese silk that he hoped to turn into costumes and backdrops, was loaded on board a British ship named Sirdhana. With the entire company onboard they set off for Honolulu but before clearing Singapore harbor the ship struck a submerged mine. The passengers safely scrambled into the lifeboats and then, from a safe distance, watched Nicola’s entire show disappear under the ocean’s surface....
Images from Egyptian Hall: Adelaide Herrmann

Images from Egyptian Hall: Adelaide Herrmann

  During the early morning of December 17, 1896 Adelaide Herrmann suddenly found herself not the co-star of the Herrmann the Great touring show but simply as the widow Herrmann. Her husband, Alexander Herrmann, had reigned supreme as America’s foremost magician for many years and she had lived a life of luxury. Now, just forty-three years of age, Adelaide needed to make a living and magic was all she had known throughout her adult life. Immediately following Alexander’s death she cabled her nephew in France instructing him to sail for America. Leon Herrmann was already an accomplished magician and perhaps even more important, he looked like his uncle with a black mustache and goatee. This new iteration of The Herrmann the Great show toured America for three seasons but a clash of temperaments finally doomed the enterprise. Leon further antagonized his aunt by retaining the title Herrmann the Great, which he used for his own full-evening show. Another nephew, Felix Kretschmann, the son of Adelaide’s sister, decided that he too would become a magician. He purchased enough of Alexander’s magic equipment, costumes, and curtains from Adelaide to produce an act, grew the required goatee and mustache, and then, much to his aunt’s chagrin, legally changed his name to Felix Herrmann. Taking this as an affront to her deceased husband, Adelaide never forgave Felix to the point that she removed his name from her will. Adelaide carried on as a magician, a domain that was inhabited almost exclusively by men. During her long career she appeared at the Wintergarten in Berlin, the Folies-Bergere in Paris, and the Hippodrome Theatre in...
Ed Marlo in France!

Ed Marlo in France!

Recently, here at Conjuring Arts, we have been working on transcribing a large file of letters from Ed Marlo to Mel Brown. They span from 1954 to 1991 and are quite fascinating, containing gossip, reviews of books and videos, tricks and sleights, tips and finesses, etc. While the work on these is not finished, we thought we would whet the appetite by offering a small gallery of photos of Ed Marlo that we have in the archives. We believe that these were taken during his trip to Paris for Pierre Mayer’s convention. There is also video footage of Marlo that was taken during the trip which is available through Stevens Magic Emporium (Ed Marlo – A Private Lesson number 1 and number 2), if you want to see him in action during this period of his life. Visit the Gallery For those that do not know much about Marlo and would like to know more you should definitely check out the new collections being put out by Magic Inc. in Chicago; these are a trilogy of books, two of which have been published so far, Revolutionary Card Technique and Cardially Yours. There are also some video resources, most notably, Prime Time Marlo and It’s all in the Cards. Also I have assembled some interesting articles and tricks, with the help of Ask Alexander, which may be of value to the enthusiast: One of Marlo’s first publishing efforts was to enter into Tops magazine’s “It’s a Pip” contest. He entered three ideas into the contest, which is not surprising considering the vast creativity he would demonstrate for the rest of...
Listen to the Piddington’s

Listen to the Piddington’s

Here’s a full recording of The Piddington’s – a husband and wife team who gained worldwide fame performing a telepathy routine that bordered on the supernatural. You can find out more about them by reading the  fascinating biographical piece that Barry Wiley contributed to our historical journal Gibecière, Vol. 8, No. 2. While listening to this vintage recording, consider that Sydney Piddington began to develop this act while he was interred at Changi Prison camp during World War II. During this time he became friends with other performers like Russell Braddon, and Fergus Anckorn (whose own story is described HERE). Under the harshest of conditions, they created act that follows....
David Roth: Master in Residence

David Roth: Master in Residence

Imagine a magician who drops coins into an ACME style portable hole only to remove them from a bagless change purse; or who ties a Japanese coin to a string and uses a paper fan to make the coin fly like a kite on a beach. Or imagine a magician who can pour the sound of jingling change from a glass, with empty hands, before turning the sound into solid silver coins. David Roth’s presentations with coins are technically innovative, playful, and exquisitely beautiful. Roth’s influence on coin magic has been so profound that it is hard to precisely quantify. The majority of professional close-up magicians carry at least one change purse filled with four, four-and-a-half, or five half-dollars. Most magic shops sell dozens of slick new DVD’s on how to make those four coins vanish, change, and teleport themselves. YouTube features hundreds of young magicians performing with their coins. All of these performers, whether they know it or not, are standing on the shoulders of a giant. Not including his own television appearances, Roth’s creations have been performed on Las Vegas stages, on an episode of The X-Files, and even during other magicians’ lectures. In Spain, magician and comedian Luis Piedrahita has presented a number of Roth’s routines on national television (acknowledging David by name as the creator). David’s work is not simply impressive, it is a reminder to other magicians of the lasting impact that they too can have on their craft. COINS BEFORE 1976                                                        ...
William Zavis Letters by Ricky Smith

William Zavis Letters by Ricky Smith

The research center holds a vast trove of correspondence between a great number and variety of magicians. One section of the collection comes from William Zavis and is especially valuable for research purposes because he generally kept copies of his outgoing correspondence along with the letters he received. Further, Mr. Zavis worked as a US Foreign Service Officer for the United States Information Agency, or USIA, which meant he was stationed in a number of different countries, making his correspondence decidedly rich in its variety of locations and number of correspondents. View...

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