Dai Vernon (b. 1894 - 1992)
Dai Vernon's Real Name
David Frederick Wingfield Verner
Magician, Inventor, Writer, Lecturer
Place of Birth
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Dai Vernon possessed the extraordinary ability of superior manipulation skills. Due to his prodigious knowledge of, and capability at sleight-of-hand, he has long been affectionately known as "The Professor."
He was also a creator of magical effects, and was credited for improving many classic close-up routines, such as the standard "Cups and Balls."
Early in his adulthood, Vernon was an expert silhouette cutter, and worked on Atlantic City's Boardwalk and elsewhere.
Dai Vernon was born David Frederick Wingfield Verner, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on June 11, 1894.
He became enamored with magic when he was seven years old after his father took him to see a magic show.
Young Vernon was enthralled when he got his hands on an early edition of perhaps the most famous card book ever penned, "The Expert at the Card Table," by S.W. Erdnase.
He processed it's chapters, and by the time he was 13 he had memorized the contents of the book.
As a young man, Vernon moved to New York where, in the back room of an old magic shop, he befriended and found favor among many famous card magicians of the era. Vernon had begun to perform at private parties for society clients, at which he was very successful.
He also created a stage show which showcased a costume act known as the "Harlequin Act," and performed at New York City's "Radio City Music Hall," and at the "Rainbow Room."
The act was a critical success, but so costly to produce, that it was not financially sustainable.
Vernon began to use the first name "Dai" When a newspaper gave him the name Dai which was the Welsh nickname for David.
His last name "Vernon" was taken from popular ice skater, Vernon Castle. New Yorkers continually mistook Verner's last name to be the same as the ice skater, and so to avoid further confusion the magician adopted "Vernon."
In 1919, Vernon, hearing of harry Houdini's boasts that no one could fool him if he saw a trick performed three times in a row, took him up on his challenge. Vernon performed "The Ambitious Card" seven times in a row, and stumped Houdini.
As a result, in the 1920's and 30's, Vernon advertised himself as "The Man Who Fooled Houdini."
Thereafter, Vernon's friend Garrick Spencer gave him the name "The Professor," due to his supreme knowledge, and skill in sleight-of-hand. The name stuck ever since.
Vernon dedicated most of his life traveling all over the United States searching for card magicians, card cheats, and anyone skilled in close-up card manipulation.
He was famously under-credited for much of the work published in Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue's "Expert card Technique," however, a later edition included an extra chapter crediting Vernon's contributions.
Dai Vernon was among the most knowledgeable sleight-of hand-artists that ever lived and has come to be the single most influential figure in modern magic.
He is credited with inventing or improving many standard close-up effects with cards, coins; "Cups and Balls," and his famous 6-ring "Symphony of the Rings" Chinese Linking Rings routine.
He spent the last few decades of his life as a Magician-in-Residence at the famous "Magic Castle" in Los Angeles, California.
There he mentored many popular magicians including, Doug Henning, Ricky Jay, and Michael Ammar.
Vernon died on August 21, 1992 in Ramona, County of San Diego, California. He was 98.
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