Magicians' Biographies - Letter V

Read about one of the most successful early female magicians, plus the Man Who fooled Houdini, and more!

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Valadon, Paul
(1867-1913) German magician and stage technician (real name Adolph Waber) who is most known for his suspected "sellout" of his employer, John Nevil Maskelyne, when he supposedly sold the secret of the Levitation illusion to Harry Kellar. Started his career as assistant to Ernst Basch of the Basch magical dynasty.
Vanek, Prof. Joseph
(1818-1899) (birthday July 31) Hungarian magician who was a physics professor and Superintendent of the Hungarian Treasury's printing office before fleeing to Turkey in 1848 after taking part in a failed coup. In his new country, he turned into a professional magician, quickly gaining favor with the Turkish royalty and being appointed Court Conjuror. Between 1850 and 1878, he made several world tours, visiting Central Europe, the Far East and the United States. His time spent in India in 1868 was most memorable, as he built his own 5,000 seat theater, which for several months was filled to capacity to see his show. The show featured a number of unique illusions, including "The AgioScope", which involved the use of electricity to project images on a canvas screen (first used by Henri Robin), and a decapitation effect during which he would let the audience examine the severed head. In 1878, he retired from show business and under amnesty, returned to his native Budapest to open a cafe.
Vernilo, E.M.
(?-?) American magician on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.
Vernon, Dai
(1894-1992)(birthday June 11) "The Man Who Fooled Houdini".
David Frederick Wingfield Verner was a Canadian magician who was most known by his stage names Dai Vernon (pronounced alternatively as "DIE" or as "DAY" as in David) or The Professor. Vernon's skillful sleight of hand technique and knowledge, particularly with card tricks and close-up magic, earned him respect and reverence among fellow magicians. He was a mentor to many of them who later became well-known magicians in their own right.
For years, Vernon billed himself as "The Man Who Fooled Houdini" in his promotional material. The story goes like this: Harry Houdini (who in his early years billed himself as "The King of Kards") often boasted that he only needed to see a card trick performed three times in a row, and he would be able to figure out how it was done. Vernon then showed Houdini a trick where he removed the top card of the deck, placed it second from the top, then turned over the top card which had now changed into the original card. Houdini watched Vernon do the trick seven times, each time asking Vernon to "do it again." Finally, Houdini's wife, Bess said, "Face it, Houdini, you're fooled." And so Dai Vernon became "The Man Who Fooled Houdini".
From 1963 until his death in 1992, he worked for decades at the Magic Castle, the exclusive magic nightclub in Hollywood, California. In fact, his ashes occupy a place of honor at the Castle today.
In 1924, Vernon married Eugenie "Jeanne" Hayes, a magician's assistant. They had two sons, Theodore and Derek. The two separated by the mid-1950s, though they never officially divorced.
Vernone, Annie
Female magician who performed the Bullet Catch at age 17 in mid-1800's England
Read the biography of Annie Vernone!
Vernone, Florence
Female magician in mid-1800's England, sister of Annie Vernone
Read the biography of Florence Vernone!
Vickery, James
(?-?) British magician, stage assistant to Harry Houdini between 1911 and 1926. Developed the idea for the Milk Can escape with Houdini and Franz Kukol. Houdini left him a $500 bequest in his will.
Victoire, Mdlle. Stage name of Pat Parker, female magic assistant to The Great Deville
Read the biography of Pat Parker- see image!
Victor, Edward
(1887-1964) British magician (born Edward Victor Neuschwander) who specialized in card manipulation and hand shadows. Author of several magic books and manufacturer of the world's smallest magic kit, called 20 Tricks in a Matchbox.
Spectacular vaudeville illusionist (aka "Kar-Mi") who could swallow a gun barrel like a sword- by shooting it from his mouth!

Read the biography of Victorina - see images!
Vintus, Len
(1903-?) Amateur magician who co-founded the International Brotherhood of Magicians in 1922 with Gene Gordon. He held I.B.M. membership card #1.
Von Arx
(1871-1959) American born Charles Nicol was the brother of the more famous Nicola (William Nicol), though he had notable success performing the Throne of Mystery illusion, in which a girl seated in an ornate chair suddenly disappears into thin air. Charles spent many years as a part of the Nicola show. After his brother's death in the late 1940's, Charles toured as "Chasan" with his own ghost show, the popular 1940's and 1950's midnight spooky magic show.
(?-?) British female magician, born Etta Ion, was one of the most successful early female stage magicians. From 1906 until 1914, she was billed as "The World's Only Lady Illusionist". Performing as "Von-Etta, La Mystere Indescriptible" and assisted by her husband, T. Vincent Paul, she toured with a large stage illusion show that included a macabre coffin levitation. After the start of World War I, she abandoned her stage act and opened a dance school. She was given an honorary membership in the newly-formed Scottish Conjurers' Association in 1924, a very rare honor for a female magician. Her biography is Vonetta: Mistress of Mystery by Edwin A. Dawes.