Brief Biographies of Magic Inventors - Page N- O - P

Neff, Bill
(1905-1967)
American magician who later specialized in midnight spook shows, specifically his "Madhouse of Mystery", an enormous 2-ton stage spectacle that required 13 assistants. He got his start in high school performing magic with his friend (and later famous actor) Jimmy Stewart after being taught by the great Jack Gwynne. A comic book, Red Dragon, featured Bill Neff as a "Ghost Breaker." When Clyde Beatty - author, actor and world's greatest lion trainer - came to Indiana in the 1940s, Indiana magician Bill Neff pulled a hare out of Beatty's collection of cats.
Invented: Comedy Cut and Restored Necktie, Miracle Rope, Frame of Life and Death

Wrote: Bill Neff Bonanza

Book about Bill Neff: Pleasant Nightmares - Dr. Neff and His Madhouse of Mystery by William V. Rauscher
News article about Bill Neff (published 5/17/09)

Nelson, Robert
(1901-1972)

Robert (known as "Bob" to his friends and associates) Alan Nelson was a practicing mentalist for many years His brother Larry performed as a mentalist under the name Alla Rageh, and the two of them worked together beginning in 1921 with Bob handling the bookings and management and his brother taking the spotlight performing in the shows. There was no source for mental magic at that time, and Bob recognized the need for information and materials exclusively for use by mentalists so he went into the wholesale/retail business in Columbus, OH to crerate specialized products for the professional mentalist. Invented the Multiplying Rabbits, among other things.

Wrote: Sensational Effects (1928), Super Mentality (1929), Psychic Mysteries (1929), Confessions of a Medium (1930), Psychic Mysteries 1931 Tricks, More Effective Answers to Questions (1932), Stage Hypnotism Course (1935), Hellstromism (1936), Technique of the Private Reader (1936), Making Mindreading Pay (1936), Nelson's Super Code (1937), Visions of Tomorrow (1941), Man and Wife Mindreading Act (1942), The Miracle Deck (1942), Encyclopedia of Mentalism (1944), Sensational Answers (1944), Musical Thoughts (1944), Dante's System of Life Span Reading (1944), Miracles in Mentalism and Psychic Experimentation (1945), Hotel and Nite Club Mindreading (1947), Super Prediction Tricks (with E.J. Moore) (1947), The Ghost Book of Dark Secrets (1948), Manual of Publicity and Exploitation (1948), The New Dr. Q. Book (1948), How To Book your Attraction (1951), The Art of Cold Reading (1951), Secret Methods of Private Reader (1953), The Mentalist's Manual (1953), TV Mentalism (1955), Hypno-Trix (1956), Projected Answers (1956), Miracles of the Mind (1956), Sensational Effects (revised) (1958), Master Course in Hypnotism (1958), New Dr. Q. Slate Routines (1958), E.S.P. Brain Busters (1958), Mentalism and its Presentation (1959), More Miracles in Mentalism (1959), The Master Code (reprint) (1959), Mental Exploits (1960), Encyclopedia of Mentalism (3rd edition) (1960), Club and Party Mentalism (1961), Still More Miracles in Mentalism (1961), Comedy Mentalism, Vol. 1 (1962), Comedy Mentalism, Vol. 2, Phantom Mindreader (1964), Comedy Mentalism, Vol. 3 (1964), Sensational Mentalism (1965), The Horoscope Party Manual (1968), Sensational Mentalism, Vol. 2 (1968), The Last Book of Nelson : An Autobiography, Plus (1970), A Sequel to the Art of Cold Reading (1971), Sensational Mentalism, Vol. 3 (1972), Commercial Mentalism (1972), Sensational Mentalism, Vol. 4 (1977- published posthumously)

Nemoto, Takeshi
(?-?)
Japanese magician who advocates pure sleight of hand methods for much of his own magic. He was was a student of and considered a protege of Tenkai Ishida. Invented: The Last Card, Magnet Gimmick for Finger Ring, Coin and Pen, Ring On Finger (with no cover) and Hanktration (with Ed Marlo) as described in Modern Coin Magic.

Wrote: Tokyo Trickery (1967)

Nielsen, Norm
(1934 - )
Artistic and graceful American stage magician, noted magic collector and dealer. Famous for his incredibly beautiful Floating Violin and Floating Piano routines. A graduate of the Chavez School of magic (1953), he then had to develop his own original style to be accepted by an agent. After working on the Floating Violin for 2 years, he became an international magic celebrity.
He is also known as an avid collector and restorer of antique magicians' posters and playbills.

Video Link

Nicol, William Mozart
(1880-1946)
American stage illusionist known as "Nicola". Traveled on a number of impressive world tours for three decades (from 1910 through 1939) until his entire show was lost in a Singapore shipwreck in 1939. Both his father ("The Great Nicoli") and his brother ("Von Arx") were professional magicians.
Nikola, Louis
(1878-1936)
Born in Southampton, England. Stage name (from Guy Boothby's Dr Nikola books written between 1895 and 1901) of Walter J. Obree Smith. Pro since 1901. Co-invented (with Roy Enoc) Milk Pitcher (aka The Filtering Ink - by 1917), invented Nikola Card System by 1927 and Magic Welding in the early 1930s. Also invented the Card Castle.

Wrote: Magical Masterpieces (1934)

Nixon, "Doc"
(1874- c.1946)
The stage name of William John.Nixon, an American vaudeville performer from 1909 until his "disappearance" from public performing in 1939. He first pursued his trade as a plumber in Brooklyn, NY, but became interested in magic about 1909 and soon was a regular performer on the vaudeville stages.

Invented: Checker Cabiner (c. 1920), Duck Production Box, Oriental Tube Mystery (Stack of Bowls Production), The Nixon Club Marvel (Dove Vanish)(c.1930) Oh, Joker!, The Invisible Hand Writes (Spirit Slate Writing), Nekko Omar Marvel (dove vanish), Now You Do One (spirit card trick)(1932), Nixon Silk of Araby, The Electro-Illusion Magic Box, The Nan Yang Mystery Case (1920), Nixon Double Bowl M ystery, The Nixon Newspaper Frames Mystery, The Nixon Wonder Gimmick (production device),

Wrote: The Spirit Paintings (1916), The Nixon Manuscript (1920), The Nixon Ghost Manuscript (1929), The Nixon 1931 Magical Surprise (1931), The Nixon Wonder Releases (1932), Lindhorst Published Twenty Exclusive Effects by Doc Nixon (1946).

O'Dell, Dell
(1902-1962)
One of the most successful female magicians of the 20th Century. American born, real name Nell Newton. Learned magic from her father, a carnival magician. Specialized in snappy and cute rhyming patter, and lots of promotional material. Husband Charles Carrer, a famous juggler, managed her show and constructed her trademark clever and special props. Her local television show (California) in the early 1950's was one of the first regularly broadcast magic programs.
See: Stamp Album Presentation in Tarbell, Volume 4.
O'Dowd, Mike
(?-?)

Worked as a professional magician in Ohio for many years, and then started O'Dowd Mfg. in Barnhart, MO which operates today as O'Dowd Conjuring. His wife, Sandy O'Dowd, wrote a column for Legerdermain magazine. They often performed together as O'Dowd and Sondra along with their daughter,Kelly, as shown in the photo at the left.

As a manufacturer, O'Dowd was authorized to produce U.F. Grant's Temple Screen and other products by other inventors.

His own inventions include: The Mod Glass (1976), Sun Spots (1977), The Leprechaun Pitcher (1976), Poco Presto (1977), Chances R (1977), and many more.

Ortiz, Darwin
(1948 - )
American magician specializing in card handling and gambling sleights. Expert on card cheats and scams. Respected lecturer and instructor.
Wrote: Strong Magic (1994), Darwin Ortiz At the Card Table (1988), Cardshark (1995), Scams & Fantasies with Cards (2002)
Media: At the Card Table (Volumes 1-3) DVD; The Card Shark (Volumes 1 - 3) DVD
  Osborne, Paul
(1948 - )
American magician and illusion designer from the age of eight. Inventor of scores of illusions, especially designed for amusement park stages. Owner of Illusion Systems in Dallas, Texas.

Wrote: Begin To Build Your Own Illusions, Volumes 1 - IV, plus over 350 Illusion Plans and descriptions and modifications.

Osterlind, Richard
(?-?)
Invented: Change of Mind, Dark Vision, Digital Feedback, Marked Coin in Bottle, Osterlind Design Duplication System, Psychic Control, Radar Deck, Signed Torn and Restored Newspaper

Wrote: Metalblast, Mind Mysteries Guide (4 volumes), Osterlind Breakthrough Card System, The Osterlind Trilogy, The Principles of Magic, The Very Modern Mindreader, Three Miracle Routines
Media: (DVD format) Easy To Master Mental Miracles, Mind Mysteries 1 - 4, Mind Mysteries 5 - 7, No Camera Tricks DVD Package, The Secrets of Metal Bending
Informative Web sites: http://osterlindstore.com - http://www.richardosterlind.com/
  Ostin, Bob
(1929 - )
Magic name of Robert W. Arkley of England. His marketed tricks include Dice Prediction (1954), Submarine Card (1969), Beam Shot (1969). Other inventions include:

Wrote: Fingertip Fantasies (1968)
Book about Bob Ostin: "Bob Ostin - A Lifetime of Magical Inventions" Compiled, written and partly illustrated by Stephen Tucker (2011).

Media: DVD - The Bob Ostin Lecture by International Magic
Ouellet, Gary
(1945 - 2002)
Canadian born, began performing magic professionally as a teenager in Quebec City. Moved to the USA in the 1980's and began producing magic shows for the TV networks.

Invented: Symbiotic Deck, Top of the Heap (1992), Portent (with Alain Choquette - 1992), A Dream of Aces (1992), Glow (Gypsy) Thread (2001),Two Goblets, The Millenium Cabinet (aka Test Conditions), The Ouellet Double Levitation, Skewered, Greased Lightning Stage Vanish, and many more.

Wrote:(1978) Finger on the Card (Masters of Magic, Vol. 1, #1), (1979) Supershells (Masters of Magic, Vol. 1, #2), (1980) Classy Close-Up (lecture notes), (1980) The Silver Passage (Masters of Magic, Vol. 1, #3), (1980) The Two Goblets (Masters of Magic, Vol. 1, #4), (1981) Threshold (Masters of Magic, Vol. 1, #5), (1982) Meir Yedid’s Incredible Close-Up Magic, (1983) The Homing Ring (Masters of Magic, Vol. 1, #6), (1986) Eric DeCamps' The Coin Connection (Masters of Magic, Vol. 2, #1), (1986) Finger on the Card, Second Edition (Masters of Magic, Vol. 1, #1), (1986) ProControl, (1986) PowerSleights (lecture notes), (1990) Close-Up Illusions, (1991) The 1991 Lecture (lecture notes), (1992) Class Act: The Magic of Tony Binarelli, (1994) The Pass, (1994) Fulminations Plus, Vol. I, (1998) Fulminations, Vol. II, (199?) Music for Magicians (book with CD), (199?) Magic on TV: Performance Secrets (lecture notes)

Representative Videoclip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHVJ0PYtOW8&feature=related

Ovette, Joseph
(1885-1946)
Italian-born stage magician who gained fame as vaudeville's The Great Ovette (real name Giuseppi Olivio). In later years, he performed in Oriental costume as "Lung Tchang Yuen", staying in character even after performances, in the style of Chung Ling Soo.
Invented the Ovette Master Move (1927) (later reinvented as the "Kelly Bottom Placement") and Ovette's Chinese Tea Chest.
Wrote : Practical Telephathy (1924), Publicity Miracles (1928), Silk Creations (1931), Fast Ones (1940), Tricks and Illusionettes (1944).
  Owen, Carl
(1889-1975)
American magic manufacturer and inventor. Started work as an illusion builder with Floyd Thayer circa 1917, then co-founded his own Owen Brothers Magic Company with brother Henry Emmett in 1933. Sold to Les Smith in 1963, the magic company, now Owen Magic Supreme in California, continues to produce the highest quality props and equipment for professional magicians. Credited with inventing Dr. Q Slates, Panic Pistol, Can Can Switch Box, Lock Flap Handkerchief Box, Silk Cabby,Break Away Die Box, Oriental Die Box, Lock Flap Card Box, Enchanted Rabit Hutch, Master Cage Illusion, Crystal Dove Cote, Lightning Vanish Box, Rapid Rabbit Vanish, Dr. Q Spirit Hand, Dr. Q Prediction Chest, Change Basket, Sesame (Drawer Box Variation), Sliding Clock Box, Disembodied Princess
  Pablo, Juan
(? - ?)
Magician and magic inventor from Argentina.
Invented: Roped, Bottle Production, Juan Hundred Dollar Bill, Tie Pin Juan, Iguana, Faster Than the Eye

Media: Original Stand Up Magic of Juan Pablo (Video), Volumes 1 and 2

Pacific, Paul
(1970 - )
Canadian Mentalist, born in Oakville, Ontario just outside of Toronto. Paul, already interested in magic from an early age, became even more interested in Mentalism after meeting his greatest influence, The Amazing Kreskin.
Invented and published "GREEKED" in Lee Earle's SYZYGY magazine, volume 2, number 13, issue 31, page 145.

Informative Website: http://www.mindreader.ca/index.html

Page, Patrick
(1929 - 2010)
Born in Dundee, Scotland, Pat worked at Davenport's Magic Store in London and later became a professional magician at the age of 26 right up until his death in 2010..

The Kitson Miracle that he invented was named after the street in Camberwell, South London on which he first lived, Kitson Road. Also invented a Card in the Wallet routine, Magic Handful, One in the Middle, Easy Money, the Ten Second Paper Tear.

Wrote: How to Entertain Children with a Glove Puppet, Patrick Page’s Book of Visual Comedy, The Miser's Dream, Bell's Book of Magic, The Big Book of Magic (1976), The Pull Book (1987).

Informative Web Site: http://www.patrickpagemagic.co.uk/index.php
There are many videos of Pat Page available on YouTube, like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZwiWB0ZPXY&feature=player_embedded

Pavel
(1945 - 2011)
Born Pavel Lubomir Pomezný in Prague, Czechoslovakia, he began magic at an early age, and by 1960 had became the youngest member of the Nova Scena Kouzel, Czechoslovakia's magic society. He began tours to other European countries, and eventually made his way to the United States (1967), where he appeared on the Ed Sullivan TV show (1968).He lived in Geneva, Switzerland until his death in 2011.

Invented many effects, especially rope tricks: Fantastic Knot, Krazy Knot, Rapid Rope, Chameleon Knots, Super Walking Knot (1982), Cord-Fusion + Equalization, The Black Knot, The Phenomenal Rope, Hop-Along Bangle, Staggering Spiral, Miracle Silk Pass (Rope thru neck).
Also Invented: Selected Silk in Balloon, Knot-The-Silk Routine, Pavel Change Tube, Balloon Box Blendo, Quadsilx, Sucker Blendo, Knots Off Silk and many more.
Wrote: Magical Creation or How to invent a new Trick - Wie entwickle ich einen neuen Trick? (1964, with Mila Trinka); Zwei Dutzend und Eine Neuheit (1965, with Josef Manas); La Magie de Pavel (1969), English ed by Peter Warlock as The Magic of Pavel (1971); 10 Nouveaux Tours de Pavel (6 vols, 1969-77), Pavel's 15 Micro Tricks (1971), plus several lecture notes in German, French, and English.

Informative Web site: http://pavelmagic.com/us/mainhome.php?p=home1

Pepper, Professor John Henry
1821-1900)
Pepper was analytic chemist, who became 1852 director London of the Polytechnic of institute. In 1863, using the work of civil engineer Henry Dircks as a foundation, Pepper created a device that used mirrors and lenses to project a ghostly image.Pepper liked making science entertaining and he especially liked explaining complex concepts and devices by using optical illusions and programs that produced grand dioramas and dissolving views. It was in this way that he came to devise the "Ghost Show", which he brought to audiences in Britain, Canada, America and Australia.

Wrote: The Boy's Playbook of Science (1862), Magnetism (1874) The True History of the Ghost (1890)


Photo courtesy of Robert Keyser's Petrie-Lewis Collection
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 which began in 1919.
  Philadelphia, Jacob
(c1735- c1795)
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.
Pinetti,Giuseppe
(c 1750 - c 1800)
Born in Orbetello, Tuscany, Giuseppe Merci, son of Luigi Merci, a village innkeeper in Tuscany. Aka 'Willedal de Merci'. A top-line stage pro in Italy (1796?), Germany (1780, 1796), France (1783-84, 1785), London (1784-85), Lisbon (1791), Poland and Russia (1789, etc). Died in Russia.
He was considered to be the most imitated magician of the 18th century. His repertory included automatons, that is, machines that operated by themselves; pretended second sight; and novel tricks with apparatus. . In 1783, Pinetti exhibited among his many wonders a toy bird perched upon a bottle, which fluttered, blew out a candle, and warbled any melody proposed or improvised by the audience,doing this also when removed from the bottle to a table, or when. held in the performers hand upon any part of the stage. The sounds were produced by a confederate who imitated song-birds by aid of the inner skin of an onion in the mouth; and speaking-trumpets directed the sounds to whatever position was occupied by the bird. Much of what we know about Pinetti and his magic comes from the writings of Henri Decremps in La Magie Blanche Devoilee (White Magic Unveiled - five books) 1785.
Possibly invented both Dancing Card (by 1784) and Jumping Plume (1784). Invented Card Castle
Plate,Adrian
(1844-1919)

Born in Utrecht, Holland. Moved to USA in 1877. Co-authored (with Henry Hatton as Adrian Plate) Magicians' Tricks (1910), a classic that Henry Hay rightly called the 'first American general 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 bestselling magazine for boys.
Platt, Brian
( )

Brian and Mike Platt are a father and son team of magic innovators. Mike is Brian's father, but it seems the son is the one who gets the new ideas and the father then comes to the rescue with his skills as an engineer. The two of them are credited with having invented: Blackout!, The Platt Pad, Sugar Rush, Dragon Breath, Spree'd.

Informative Web site: http://www.plattmagic.com

  Porper, Joe
(?-?)

Invented Cap in any Bottle (with Pete Biro), Flipper Chip, Porper Strong Box (after Jack Lippencott's Box), Ghostly Linking Finger Rings (with Pete Biro), Cocktail Surprise (with Pete Biro), utility device Card Clip, Red White and Blue Paddle, 1-2-3-4 Paddle, Card Penetration Box, Silent Sliding Casino Poker Chip .

Informative Web site: http://www.porperoriginals.com

Posgate, Bruce
(1900 - 1990)
Canadian magician Bruce Posgate was not so much an inventor of magic as an originator of magic routines using other magician's inventions. He also wrote the instructions for many magic tricks sold by dealers.
Bruce remembered seeing Oswald Williams perform a Magic Laundry effect at the Egyptian Hall in London. In the August 1951 issue of The Linking Ring (Volume 31 - No. 6) he wrote up his routine for "The Magic Laundry" which inspired another originator of magic, Lewis J. Thomas, to devise the "Chinese Washing Machine" manufactured later by Supreme.*
Wrote: Table Hopping (1974), Dove Pan-Orama, Necklace Trickery, It's Not What You Do (Lecture Notes), Kid Show Showmanship (1961),
*Researched by Andrew Pinnard.
Potter, Richard
(1783 - 1835)
Richard Potter was born ca. 1783, in Hopkinton, MA, the grandson of Sir Charles Frankland (the British collector for the Port of Boston). Circumstantial evidence points to Sir Charles' son Henry Cromwell and a freed slave of Sir Charles, Dinah, as Potter's parents.
Potter was raised on the Frankland Estate in Hopkinton, MA and attended the Hopkinton School until he was 10. He hired on as a cabin boy to a Captain Skinner who set sail for England. Shortly thereafter, he began touring throughout Great Britain and Europe as a circus performer. He served as an assistant to Rannie the Scot (John Rannie) in Europe and migrated back to the States with the Rannie troupe around 1801.
Over the next decade, Potter began performing on his own while remaining with Rannie. When Rannie retired in 1811, Potter launched his own independent career. His repertoire consisted of material common to the time, but he was especially noted for his Ventriloquism and Human Salamander pieces which garnered much praise. Thus he became the first native-born American magician of African ancestry to achieve popular success (in America).
Potter was known for his skills in ventriloquism, juggling, hypnosis, and magic and performed throughout New York, New England and Canada. By 1817, his admission fees had grown from 25 cents to $1.00. Fabulously successful, Potter purchased 175 acres of land in Andover, NH and built a mansion referred to as Potter Place. It has been said that Potter's mansion was used as a model for the first State House built in the state capital of New Hampshire, Concord, until that building was remodeled in a French design.
When Potter retired from performing, he spent his remaining years on his farm with his wife Sally and their three children, Richard Jr., Jeanette and Henry. He passed away at the age of 52 years at Potter Place in September of 1835 and was buried in a plot on his land. One year later, his wife was buried beside him. In 1849, the railroad came through Andover, and when the townspeople discovered that the tracks would go directly over the gravesite, relocated the graves nearby where they are tended to this day. The railroad station was named Potter Place and that region of Andover came to be known as Potter Place. *
Magicians of his era had to be inventors and make most of their own props. Potter was no exception. He reportedly performed tricks described by others as crawling through a log, frying eggs in a hat, a Hindu rope trick, swallowing molten lead, dancing on eggs (without breaking them), and climbing into an oven with uncooked meat and departing when the meat was cooked. Most of his feats were reported from the viewpoints of his audiences, but we know from various handbills that he performed the cups and balls, swallowed knives, breaking borrowed watches and restoring them, shooting rings from guns into the bills of doves, and magic tricks with cards, eggs, and money.
* The above information was researched and provided by Andrew Pinnard.
Also see: Informative article written by Milbourne Christiopher in 1953 and published in MUM. Some discrepencies.
  Powell, Ralph Emerson
(1903 - 1952)
American magician and manufactuer of magic from Cleveland, Ohio. He started in vaudeville as a professional magician in 1921 and was doing a full evening show by 1925. Those who label him as an "amateur" obviously don't know this.

He invented: Stung and Stung Again c.1935, and What and Why card trick, both of which are advertised in a 1937 Genii Magazine with himself as the manufacturer. Also invented Mat from Madagascar, Aeroplane Cards and more that were published in the Linking Ring.
He published the trick "Experiment in Psychology-Stung", also known as the "Stung and Stung Again trick", with a note in the directions that it was barred from public use by anyone but himself, a wishful plan that just didn't work out as it was too easy to duplicate and too good to pass up.

Pulver, B. Robert
(19?? - )

Wrote: I Hate Card Tricks (2008), I Still Hate Card Tricks(2008), Kards for Kids(2008)

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