Magicians' Biographies - Letter S

Read about the animal trainer magician, India's greatest stage magician, the magician who produced a woman from a pie, and more!

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Samee, Ramo
The first "modern" juggler
Read the biography of Ramo Samee - see image!
(1907-1982) French magician (real name André Delcassan) who started his career as the magician "Satanas" in 1931, but became "Sanas" in 1933 with a lightning math calculation and mentalism act.
Sanger, "Lord" George
(1827-1911) British magician, animal trainer and circus owner. Started his career billed as "The Wizard of the West" in 1848 working English country fairs. By the late 1800s, he owned his own circus, Sanger's Travelling Circus, which he sold when he retired from show business in 1905. Married to Ellen (Nellie) Chapman, who had been a lady lion tamer with another circus. Died from unfortunate circumstances: he was either murdered after interrupting a fight between two of his servants, or he accidentally struck his head while coming to the aid of one of the men. Subject of a biography by Val Andrews, "Gentleman George" Sanger, as well as his own autobiography, 70 Years a Showman, which was published in 1908.
Sapphirra, Madame Debora
African American actress and stage psychic in Black Herman's show
Read the biography of Madame Debora Sapphirra!
Sargent, J.W.
(?-?) American magician on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.
(?-?) French magician (real name Marcel Vassal) who worked a mindreading act in the Paris music halls of the mid 1900s. In his poster, his face is made up of the figures of beautiful girls.
Saunders, Hyman
(?-?) German traveling magician who performed in the US in the late 1700s. His signature routine was to fry German pancakes in borrowed hats.
Scarne, John
(1903-1985)(birthday March 4) American magician, author and expert on gambling and games. His real name was Orlando Carmelo Scarnecchia. By the age of 13, he had learned the secrets of card gambling cheats from a local card sharp. His skill was incredible, and by 1940 he had become one of the world's foremost experts on card manipulations (both for gambling and for magic tricks). During WWII, Scarne contributed to the war effort by teaching the soldiers how to avoid being cheated at cards and dice, travelling to various USO venues and also producing several films on the subject. Through his company, John Scarne Games, Inc., he invented and marketed a number of board games, including Teeko, a strategy game that so mesmerized Scarne that he named his son for the game (John Teeko Scarne). He was a magic/gambling advisor for the movie The Sting, and doubled for actor Paul Newman's hands during scenes that involved card manipulations. He authored a number of books on magic and gambling, most notably Scarne on Card Tricks and Scarne's Complete Guide to Gambling. He also wrote two autobiographies: The Amazing World of John Scarne in 1956, and The Odds Against Me in 1966.
(?-?) American magician on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.
Schindler, George
(b.1929) American-born magician, author and magic dealer. Co-founded (with Frank Garcia) New York's School for Magicians, which was in business from 1973 until 1978. Ninth Dean of the Society of American Magicians, from 2005 until the present.
Schulte, George
(1887-?) American magician and author of several books on presentation and patter, including Talks for Tricks, Magical Monologues, Patter Paragraphs, and Words for Wizards.
Schwartz, Natan
(1929-?) German circus magician in the later part of the 1800's who employed a young Carl Rosini as his assistant around 1900.
Sears, Harry
(1883-1935) American vaudeville magician who was popular during the first decade of the 20th century. Young and handsome, Sears favored the sensational illusions, especially those that involved young and beautiful assistants and suggestive storylines, like his "Flagrand Delit" illusion. Just before retiring in 1912, Sears was performing an effect he called "The Blue Pearl", a show-stopping extravaganza which featured the production of a horse, a camel, several scantily-clad female assistants holding snakes- and 45 additional people. His early retirement at age 29, at the height of his popularity, was the subject of much speculation in the magic world. He himself started the rumor that he left show business for a career as a gold miner. In reality, he joined the fast-growing film industry in Hollywood, becoming a successful talent scout and making good use of his eye for beauty.
Seeman, Adolph
(?-?) Son of Hartwig Seeman. Took over his father's show in 1886, and performed the Electra/Aga Illusion with his wife, Marie, as "Electra".
Seeman, Hartwig
(1833-1886) German traveling magician who may have invented the Aga Levitation. Billed himself as Sweden's top magician and a member of the Swedish Royal Family when he relocated to America.
Seeman, Julia
(?-?) Daughter of Hartwig Seeman. Performed the Electra/Aga Illusion with him, playing the part of "Electra".
Seeman, Marie
(?-?) Wife of Adolph Seeman. Performed as "Electra" in her husband's show.
Seidenstein, Moe
See Moe.
(?-?) American magician on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.
Seymour, Frank Merrill
(1912-2002) American magician from the Little Rock, Arkansas area who ran a magic school, the Seymour School of Magic. In 1958, the Arkansas governor gave him the title of "The Colonel Of Corn".
Sharpe, Robert
(?-?) American magician on the Redpath Chautauqua circuit.
Sharpe, Sam
(1902-1992) English amateur magician, author and magic historian. Prolific author of more than a dozen books on both magical effects and magic history. He cofounded the Hull and East Riding Magicians' Society in 1921, which later became the Hull Magicians' Circle. He also invented a magic trick called Sharpe Scissors, a clever miniature version of the Sawing In Half illusion.
Shaw, Mark
(1875-1972) (birthday April 11) India-born magician whose magical career was spent playing mainly variety theaters in London during the 1920s and 1930s. His exotic "oriental" appearance became a trademark, with his colorful robes and exotic-sounding stage names. And he certainly used a lot of stage names! Over the years, he was billed as "Prince Yugo", "Hugo" and "Manek Shah". He was also billed variously as "Yuga, Mystical Entertainer Extraordinary", "Yuga & Co.", "Prince Yuga & Co." and "Prince Yuga and his Company of Oriental Mystic Entertainers". Some other advertisements and fliers show him billed as "Yugo, the famous Oriental Mystic Entertainer" and "Yoga, India's Foremost Mystic Entertainer". Usually assisted by his daughter, Retta Shah, plus another female assistant or two, his illusions included producing live birds from empty containers, passing a rope through his neck, and his version of the Indian Rope Trick. Actually, he had been trained in India as a medical doctor, but emigrated to the United States in 1906, where he bacame a naturalized citizen. Finding it difficult to practice medicine in the U.S., he somehow made the leap into show business as a vaudeville magician. The American circuit was very competitive, and he found his niche in England. The oil portrait is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, a bequest from Retta Shaw Read.
Shaw, W.H.J.
(1859-?) American-based ventriloquist figure maker and author of several books on novelty magic acts (fire eating, sword swallowing, etc.)
(?-?) American magician on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.
(?-?) Native American (Moqui Indian) magician on the Redpath Chautauqua circuit from 1904 to 1910. His 1908 tour advertised his version of Shooting An Arrow Through a Girl, as well as his Vanishing Indian routine. His show also included an act by "Youna", a Japanese American juggler.
(b. 1937)(birthday May 18) Italian superstar of magic. Born Aldo Savoldello. Professional since 1957, he has starred in hundreds of TV shows, and made thousands of live appearances. Successful magic businessman, he markets magic props under the "Silvan Magic" name. Author of a number of magic books, including Arte Magica, a history of magic.
Silverman, Eddie
(?-?) American magician who performed the Bullet Catch act on the 1950's TV show, "You Asked For It".
Slade, Dr. Henry
(1835-1905) Foremost 19th century mentalist who invented the Nail Writer and the Flap Slate.
Slater, Ralph
(?-?) American magician/stage hypnotist who was sued in 1952 by a woman in Brighton, England following a 1948 stage performance in which she alleged that she was forced by Slater to act against her will. The suit led to a ban on hypnotism acts in England.
Sloggett, Charles
(1889-1962) Australian magician who performed with his wife, Nola (aka Athena Pallas), as the Incomparable Sloggetts, a very successful stage magic show. Though billed as a "comedy illusion" show, one of the routines was "Decapitation", in which Athena lost her head. Slogget employed several assistants who eventually launched their own magical careers, including the escapologist Murray and Keith Abson.
Sloves, Lucy
(?-?) French female magician who replaced Lucille Robertson in the Robertsons' two-person mindreading act in 1946.
(1901-1991) Italian-born magician (born Quintino Marucci) who became a legendary master of closeup work, especially with silks and coins. Began seriously performing magic as a youth in Argentina, then moved to New York City in 1930, where he perfected the art of creating a strong bond between performer and audience. His most famous effects include the Paper Balls Over the Head comedy routine and the Slydini silks routine.
Smith, Albert E.
(1875-1958) American vaudeville magician who had an act (billed as the "Komical Konjurer") with J. Stuart Blackton and Ronald Reader; the three formed Vitagraph Movie Company in 1897. Married to actresses Jeanne Paige and Hazel Neason. Buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Smith, H. Adrian
(1908-?) American amateur magician whose real vocation was as a successful engineer. An avid magic historian and book collector, he purchased a number of important magic libraries, eventually amassing his own collection of more than 10,00 volumes, The H. Adrian Smith Collection of Conjuring and Magicana, which he donated to his alma mater, Brown University, in 1988. Seventh Dean of the Society of American Magicians, from 1983 until 1992. Only the second person to hold the presidental office in both the Society of American Magicians (1940-1941) and the International Brotherhood of Magicians (1948-1949).
Smith, Les
(1915-2008)(birthday August 10) American magician and magic equipment craftsman. After a brief career as a performer in the 1950s, he purchased Owen Magic Supreme company from Carl Owen in 1963. His great skill and attention to detail strengthened the compay's quality reputation. Owen Magic built the props for Doug Henning's successful Broadway production, "The Magic Show", in 1973.
Soo, Chung Ling
(1861-1918) Successful "Oriental" magician who was secretly an American in disguise; famously killed onstage performing the Bullet Catch.
(1913-1971)(birthday February 23) Considered to be India's greatest stage magician. Real name Protul Chandra Sorcar. He is credited with modernizing the magician character in Indian magic. His most legendary trick involved his arriving very late onstage, purposely making the audience frustrated with anticipation. Finally taking the stage, and acknowledging the loud complaints from the crowd, he would direct the audience members to look at their watches, exclaiming that he was actually on time. When the crowd checked their watches, the hands had moved backward to the scheduled start time for the show.
Sorcar Jr.
(b.1946)(birthday July 31) Son of Sorcar, he took over his father's show on Sorcar Sr.'s death in 1971. Real name Prodip Chandra Sorcar. He is assisted by his wife, Jayashree.
Sorcar, Maneka
(b.1981) India-born female magician, daughter of P.C. Sorcar Jr.
Spreer, Edmund
(1902-1983) German-born illusion builder who got his start in 1926 as stage mechanic for The Great Raymond. In 1928, he began a long association with magician David Bamberg ("Fu Manchu"), creating a number of wonderful illusions for Bamberg and other magicians as well. Among the tricks he created were the Isis Illusion (a variation of Chung Ling Soo's Mahatma illusion), Fu Manchu's Spirit Cabinet and Atomic Woman. He is the subject of a biography, Illusion Builder To Fu-Manchu, by Rev. Bob Olsen (1986).
Springer, Bennett
(?-?) American magician, performing in the late 1800's on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits. Advertised himself as "New England's Leading Conjurer".
Sterling, Harold
(?-?) American magician (real name Harold E. Fackler) who started on the on the Redpath Chautauqua circuit, performing with his wife, Gloria. Opened Sterling Magic Co. in Detroit. Invented the Bang Gun, the Sterling Egg Bag, and Miko. Authored books as "Thelmo" and under his own name.
Staples, George
(?-?) American magician on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.
Steen, Charles N.
Early 20th Century second-sight act as "The Steens", first with wife Martha, then with wife Rose
Read the biography of Charles Steen - see image!
Steen, Martha
First wife and stage partner of Charles Steen as "The Steens"
Read the biography of Martha Steen - see image!
Steen, Rose
Second wife and stage partner of Charles Steen as "The Steens"
Stevenson, Alwyn "King"
(1916-1966) American magician and owner of the Wizard Shop in New York's Times Square.
Stewart, Lee
(?-?) American magician on the Lyceum and Chautauqua circuits.
Stodare, Alfred
(?-?) English magician born Alfred Stoddart and younger brother of famous 19th century illusionist Colonel Stodare. Took the stage name Stodare on his brother's death. Also a ventriloquist.
Stodare, Colonel
(1831-1866)(birthday June 28) English magician born Joseph Stoddart. Famous 19th century illusionist who performed for the Royal Family and also played an extended stay at the Egyptian Hall. Invented the Stodare Egg.
Stone, Nicholas
(?-?) American magician and escapologist. Raised in Akron, OH by his Russian mother who had escaped herself from Russia in 1912. Performed many public escape feats, including a bound dive into the Hudson River in New York. At his death he owned more than three tons of locks and keys, and had published a book on locks.
Strik, Teddy
(1899-1950) French magician (real name Georges Amard) who toured with a full evening theater show as well as working as a circus magician, especially in Scandinavia.
Sutton, George
(?-?) English magician and ventriloquist who toured the US around 1844. One of his illusions, The Pie of Morocco, involved vanishing a woman from the audience and making her reappear from under the crust of a pie.
Sylber, Charlie
(1896-1967) Comedian, actor and dancer. Operated the "Magic House of Charles" magic shop in California (1950's), first in Hollywood and then in Riverside. Invented Charles Out of My Hat.