Magicians' Biographies - Letter P

Read about the first American-born magician,
the first "magic textbook",
the first African-American magician, and more!

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Page, W. Byrd
(?-?) American magician on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.
Pallas, Athena
(?-?) Australian magician (real name Nola Sloggett). She was the wife of Charles Sloggett and a talented manipulator as well as half of "The Sloggetts" show. Though billed as a "comedy illusion" show, one of the routines was "Decapitation", in which she lost her head. "Pallas Athena" is another name for the Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare.
Palmer, Doreen English female comedy magic assistant and wife of Jay Palmer
Read the biography of Doreen Palmer- see image!
Palmer, Jay American comedy magician best known for the Magic Kettle routine
Read the biography of Jay Palmer- see image!
Palmer, Tom
(1925-1991) American-born multi-dimensional magic performer. Born Antonio C. Andruzzi, changed his name to Tom Palmer and developed a successful comedy magic act, which he performed from the early 1950's. In the 1970s, he changed his professional name back to Tony Andruzzi and developed a specialty in bizarre magic, writing and performing under the name Masklyn ye Mage or Daemon Ecks. Married from 1947 to 1964 to Gloria "Vampira" Jacobsen. Created the "Vampira" character for his wife as well as illusions for Doug Henning. Holds the record for the most TAOM awards won (seven).
Papkin, Yvonne Loretta American female magician and mentalist billed as "Baby Yvonne- The World's Youngest Mental Marvel"
Read the biography of Yvonne Papkin!
Parker, Pat English female magic assistant to The Great Deville, "Mdlle. Victoire"
Read the biography of Pat Parker- see image!
Peck, Elwin C.
(?-?) American magician who is credited with originating the "Ghost Show" during the 1930s, a show which was performed in low lighting and featured creepy illusions, scary props and special effects that sometimes brushed over the audience to scare them in a comical way. Ghost shows, also called Spook Shows, reached their heyday in the 1940s and early 1950s, mainly as attractions presented with a movie.
Pepper, John Henry
(1821-1900) Engineer who developed (with Henry Dircks) Pepper's Ghost, a holographic optical illusion for the stage in which figures of living people appear in three dimension, speaking, moving about and even literally walk through each other. This was the illusion featured in the movie The Illusionist.
(?-?) American magician on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.
Petrie, John
(1870-1954)(birthday August 23) American magic dealer and magic manufacturer. First opened Swastika Magic Company in 1899, followed by Mysto Magic Company (co-founded with A.C. Gilbert) in 1909, and finally, in 1919, Petrie-Lewis Manufacturing Company. P&L produced some of the best magic equipment in the U.S., and it is highly collectible today.
Petrie, J. Walter "Tod"
(1899-1962) American magician (manipulation and mentalism act). Magic manufacturer and inventor. Son of John Petrie. Associated with Petrie-Lewis Manufacturing Company.
Pfaltz, Reinhold
(1869-1939) German magician who operated a magic theater in the late 19th century until he purchased the Basch-Mellini magic shop in 1918, excelling in magic equipment manufacture. Sold the shop to Manfredo in 1930.
Philadelphia, Jacob
(1734- ?)(birthday August 14) Ironically, the first magician known to be born in America never performed in his own country. Jacob Meyer took the name of his home town, Philadelphia, on his conversion to Christianity. In 1765, he moved to Germany and started a long and successful career as Europe's first American-born magician. He was extremely popular in Europe, especially among the royalty. His performances verged on the spiritualist: he produced "phantoms" of smoke, made flowers shower from the sky, read the minds of audience members, and seemingly appeared in four locations at once. In reality, he was taught many of his effects by Dr. Christopher Witt, a spiritualist, occultist and psychic performer. He also made good use of a new invention, the magic lantern, a projector which helped him produce his ghostly images. He also wrote a pamphlet called Little Treatise on Strange and Appropriate Feats in 1774, the earliest known published piece on magic authored by an American.
Pickman, Jean-Lambert Belgian magician and mentalist
Read the biography of Pickman- see images!
(1750-1805) Italian-born magician (real name Giuseppe Pinetti) who specialized in magic with automatons, mechanical figures that seemed to operate by themselves. For example, he featured a toy bird perched on a bottle, which could flutter its wings, blow a candle out and most impressively, warble any tune requested by the audience. Pinetti's appearance at London's Haymarket Theatre in 1784 marks the first time that a magician performed in a real theater rather than in small halls, a major advancement for the art of magic. He was so successful that even Houdini considered him to be the "greatest magician who ever lived". Robert-Houdin, perhaps jealous of Pinetti';s great fame, criticized him so severely in his classic Memoirs of Robert-Houdin that Pinetti's greatness and popularity has been long forgotten. Pinetti also made an enemy of Henri Decremps, an attorney and amateur magician, who published a scathing exposé of Pinetti's methods, revealing the secrets of Pinetti's most popular effects. The book, La Magie Blanche Devoilee (The Conjurer Unmasked), only made Pinetti more popular during his lifetime.
Plate, Adrian
(1844-1919) Netherlands-born magician and mentalist who authored (with Henry Hatton) Magicians' Tricks in 1910, a classic that Henry Hay rightly called the "first American textbook" of magic. The co-authors drew the wrath of many colleagues for public exposure by permitting key sections to be reprinted in St. Nicholas, a popular magazine for boys.
Polley, Eugene
(?-?) American magician who performed as The Great LeClair. Credited with instructing a young Fulton Oursler in the art of magic.
Pollock, Channing
(1926-2006)(birthday August 16)
Poluhni, W.J.
(?-?) American magician on the Redpath Chautauqua circuit.
Potter, Richard
(1783-1835) The first American-born magician to gain fame in America. Also America's first black magician, as his mother was African American. Started his 25-year career in 1810 as assistant to John Rannie. Well educated, he was successful enough by 1813 to be able to purchase a 175-acre farm near Andover, New Hampshire (the village is now called Potter's Place). He had a varied repertoire of tricks: he could throw knives and touch a hot iron to his tongue, walk on flames, dance on eggs without breaking them, and was an accomplished ventriloquist. In fact, his gravestone reads "In Memory of Richard Potter the Celebrated Ventriloquist, Aged 52 Years".
Powell, Frederick Eugene
(1856-1938) Legendary American magician. Performed with Imro Fox and Servais LeRoy as part of the Triple Alliance of Magic, a superstar magic extravaganza stage show. The second Dean of the Society of American Magicians, from 1922-1938.
Price, Mattie Lee
(?-1900) English female magician who performed a Georgia Magnet- style resistance act, mainly in London. Her act differed from Annie Abbott or Lulu Hurst in that it was presented as a "scientific study", with her husband, Mr. White, acting as lecturer for her.
Princess Aloiv
(?-?) Real name Viola McCarthy. Wife and stage assistant to Gerald Heaney. The pair also worked as stage assistants to Harry Houdini on his final tour.