Del Adelphia (b. 1868-1917)
Del Adelphia's Real Name
Adelphia J. Brown
Place of Birth
Fostoria, Seneca, Ohio USA
Del Adelphia possessed the ability to perform some of the most astounding stage illusions. His signature effects were the "Vanishing Bird Cage," ( one of the first to use a rectangular cage created by De Biere) and the "Egg Bag."
Following Adelphia's death, his brother Jack sold the "Vanishing Bird Cage" to Harry Blackstone, Sr., an effect which became one of Blackstone's signature tricks.
Del Adelphia was born Adelphia J. Brown, February 10, 1868 in Fostoria, Ohio. He was the younger of two sons of carpenter James Brown.
In his young adulthood, Adelphia worked as a confectioner for 15 years, while also following his passion as a magician. Adelphia married Mabel Hardy, and between 1881 and 1899, they had two sons and a daughter.
Adelphia gained notoriety as the "Cowboy Magician," where he would perform with long cascading hair and in buck-skin costume.
He toured under LeBarge and Adelphia Company and earned a successful living traveling the circuit performing his western-themed act.
Among his many illusions, he performed the "Vanishing Bird Cage" with a live canary, and the "Egg Bag" act, from which he produced a number of eggs, placed on a plate, which were then magically changed into a pair of clucking chickens.
In 1912, Adelphia's career took a turn for the worse when "The Great Raymond" accused him of stealing some of his magic props. Although the equipment resurfaced, Adelphia's reputation had been tarnished.
In the endeavor to reinvent himself, Adelphia retired the Cowboy Magician act, cut off his trademarked hair, and left the West Coast.
He teamed up with his wife, Mabel and his brother Jack, and began touring the Vaudeville circuit. In his new show he performed two new illusions: Servais Leroy's "Asrah Levitation," and Harry Rouclere's "Twin Box" illusion.
In 1914, Adelphia garnered rave reviews for his performance in Daly's Theater on Broadway in New York. Following his successful show, he continued further performances in New York, including two weeks in Thelia Theater.
In the same year he performed for the eleventh SAM banquet in New York City, and achieved critical acclaim from his peers.
After Mabel passed away in 1914, Adelphia formed a partnership in 1916 with three other magicians: The Great Everett, an escape artist; brother Jack Adelphia as "The Whistling Marvel" and JJ Mikulsky as manipulator.
Adelphia's health had been slowly deteriorating for the past few years and in February 1917, he died following a stroke. He was 49.
Photo: courtesy of Jay Marshall collection.
Return from Del Adelphia to Magicians Biographies