Dell O'Dell No.1: Night Club Act

In this silent clip, Dell O’Dell works her magic in a night club in the Forties, with an orchestra behind her.

Assisted by her husband Charlie Carrer, she tears and restores a newspaper, produces a tray full of rabbits, and pretends to pass a guillotine blade through the head of a male assistant (while spreading a newspaper on the floor that reads, “Dell's Guillotine Fails—Victim Low, Hospital Reports”).

She also performs a Penetration Frame, the P&L Blooming Rosebush, and her raucous and noisy Linking Ring routine. Finally, the video captures her original umbrella trick, a rabbit vanish, and part of her Duck Pan production.

Even without sound, Dell's personality shines loud and clear, as her face beams and her dress sparkles. 

—Michael Claxton


playlist 5 videos

Dell O'Dell

Starting her training early as a circus juggler and acrobat, Dell O’Dell eventually found success as a glamorous and entertaining magicienne, launching her magic career in 1929. Working with her husband, Charlie Carrer, a professional juggler from Switzerland, the couple often worked together, and Charlie did double duty by serving as Dell’s assistant on stage, too. During the Fifties, Dell and Charlie moved to the West Coast. While maintaining a touring show, Dell also made time to film her own television show, aptly called The Dell O’Dell Show. Her live, half-hour, magic show aired weekly in Los Angeles for two years, and in 1953, she became the first female magician nominated for an Emmy.


Dell and Charlie made hours’ worth of home movies, filming themselves and with magician friends; and there are also short clips of Dell and Charlie performing. These scenes form a lively archive of the couple in their prime. We are pleased to present a few of these treasured moment of history in this playlist. Clips here were originally housed in the McIlhany Collection and are now a part of Magicana’s archive.

By Michael Claxton
Author of the biography Don’t Fool Yourself: The Magical Life of Dell O’Dell