Dell O’Dell

Born Odella Newton in 1897 in Lemonweir, Wisconsin, the show business daughter of a circus owner wasted no time in becoming a name of her own: Dell O’Dell.

Starting her training early as a circus juggler and acrobat, she eventually found success as a glamourous and entertaining magicienne, launching her magic career in 1929. For two decades, Dell played an exhausting array of club shows, school programs, department store events, and birthday parties—and some for exclusive clients, having once entertained the Duke and Duchess of Windsor—all working from her home base in Queens, New York.

During the Fifties, Dell and her husband, Charlie Carrer, moved to the West Coast. While maintaining a touring show, Dell also made time between in 1951 to 1953 to film her own half-hour, weekly television show, aptly called The Dell O’Dell Show, in Los Angeles.

By the end of the decade, she was in her late fifties and fighting cancer, but kept up a gruelling performance schedule that now included outdoor fairs throughout Southern California. When she died in 1962 in Santa Monica, at the age of sixty-four, she was lauded as one of the most successful magicians—male or female—of the era. She opened doors for many female magicians to follow, especially by proving that they could make it on their own, without having to ride the coattails of a father or husband who performed magic.

This exhibition takes a look at highlights from Dell O’Dell’s colourful career, which includes archival footage of home movies taken by Dell and Charlie. These are magical moments from a magicienne’s life. We hope you enjoy.


Author of Don’t Fool Yourself: The Magical Life of Dell O’Dell