Frances Marie Ahrens Vandevier
Magician, Writer, Magic Dealer
Place of Birth
Frances possessed the ability of prestidigitation and superior writing skills. She wrote 27 books and pamphlets on the subject of magic. As a magician, she specialized in performing children's shows.
Frances had a zeal for cooking and sewing.
Frances Ireland Marshall was born Frances Marie Ahrens Vandevier on March 25, 1910.
She grew up on Chicago's West Side, later living in Oak Park and the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago after her second marriage.
Frances was a secretary when she had an opportunity to type a book by magician and inventor, Laurie Ireland.
Frances found herself captivated by the subject, and she ended up not just typing, but also rewriting the book.
Around 1931, Frances started working at L.L. Ireland Magic Co. in Chicago and eventually married Laurie in August 21, 1940.
Together they operated the Ireland Magic Company at 109 North Dearborn St. in the Chicago loop.
In 1938 she founded Magigals with Bess Houdini, an organization for female magicians.
She was the first editor of its magazine and also wrote regularly for several other magic magazines including the long running "Around Chicago" column in the Linking Ring.
Frances continued to run the company after the death of Laurie in 1954. In 1955, she married magician, Jay Marshall.
In 1963, the L.L. Ireland Magic Co. was incorporated. The firm was relocated to the North side of Chicago at 5082 North Lincoln Ave, and was renamed the company Magic, Inc.
Frances earned a reputation among magicians for the quality of the store that she and Jay later operated. A 1971 newspaper story called it "an institution among American magicians."
She stocked the store with some of her own homemade items, including guides to doing magic tricks, which she wrote and published, as well as sewing bags and other supplies.
For more than five years, Frances appeared every Sunday in the "Funny Paper Party," a program on WGN-TV featuring Chicago Tribune publisher Col. Robert McCormick.
She was one of only a few female magicians in the country, and she performed her magic tricks at birthday parties and for small audiences.
As a writer, she wrote several books on magic, including "You Don't Have To Be Crazy" (1946), "With Frances In Magicland" (1952), "Kid Stuff" (six volumes/1954-75), "How to Sell by Magic" (1958), and "The Sponge Book" (1960) among others.
She retired in her hometown of Chicago and on May 26, 2002, Mrs. Marshall died of complications from congestive heart failure. She was 92.
Information, courtesy of staff reporter, Julie Patel, MagicPedia, MagicNook.com, ChicagoTribune.com.