Virgil the Magician – An Unexpected Treat

Virgil and Julie ImageWe discovered, quite unexpectedly, a literal metric ton of information about Virgil the Magician and his partner, the Sweet Heart of Magic, Julie.

Our discovery started like all our internet discoveries.  We were looking for coins to add to our collection — we have a fondness for Silver Dollars minted by the Carson City Mint.  They’re not magic coins and we usually look for the lowest grade, soft coins, for ease in manipulation and difficulty in discerning the difference between coins vanished on one side of the close-up mat and reappeared on the other.  But that’s just us.

So, we’re looking for coins on eBay and finding nothing.  eBay’s algorithm directs us to thing it believes we will like based on our search for coins around the 1900s.  That leads to gift or challenge coins given by performers or military members to one another or to audiences as a memento.  One of those coins happened to be a rather distorted version of a token for the Virgil show.

That lead us to searching Virgil and we hit a divided road in an internet constructed wood: we could chase Virgil the poet or Virgil the magician.  We chose the latter.  As far as we know Virgil the poet was great at writing in dactylic hexameter about the sacking of Troy and visiting Italy.

We saw no mention of him performing even rudimentary magic tricks although we did stumble upon an abstract for a paper about the use of magic in his poetry.   (See, Rand, E. K. “Virgil the Magician.” The Classical Journal, vol. 26, no. 1, 1930, pp. 37–48. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3290464. Accessed 29 Mar. 2021).  His magic seemed to be restricted to sorcery and the ability to predict the future according to the author’s abstract.

We saw no mention of coin routines, Cups-N-Balls or Color-Changing Hanks.  There was a slight mention of what we thought might have been an ancient method of performing Hyrum the Haunted Hank but it turns out we were reading it incorrectly.

But back to Virgil the magician and his assistant, Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic.  We wanted to know more, especially after reading about his world-tours and notes by his contemporaries that he was of the old school of our Art.

He was born in 1900 and passed away in 1989.  While performing one of his early shows, he invited a young lady to the stage to assist in an effect and injured her in the process.

We searched and searched for more information about the trick causing the injury and the extent of the injuries.   Nonetheless, Virgil felt so badly about the injured woman that he visited her often.  They fell in love and she became his life-long partner, the Sweetheart of Magic, Julie.

We were hooked.  We had to know more.

 

Their posters proclaimed the world-wide acclaim received for their marvelous and astounding shows consisting of a full magic show and then a memory act by Julie and a Spirit Cabinet.

Spirit Cabinets are our secret obsession.  We have been in them as a volunteer and watched them as committee members and audience attendees.  We can’t get enough of them.  If you hint you’ll be doing a Spirit Cabinet, we’ll be first in line to buy a ticket.

They bring together the excitement of Spiritualism and the origins of the modern escape act — I believe.  The Kellar Rope Tie was kept top secret and allegedly derived from Kellar’s work with the Davenport Brothers — Spiritualists who were securely tied to wooden benches in a cabinet.  The doors to the cabinet would close and instantly — faster than a Metamorphosis transfer — hellz would be apopin.  Things flying, music playing, slates getting written on and then instantly the doors would open to show the bothers securely tied as they were left at the start of the hullabaloo.

We learned the Kellar Rope-Tie as a young man and realized it was not that easy to pull off secretly and consistently.

So we sought more information about Virgil and Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic.  They travelled with an enormous amount of equipment.  According to Genii’s MagicPedia, they went from 10 tons of props, drapes, curtains to 33 tons in 1957 when they travelled the world from New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Pakistan, India, England and Ireland.  Whoo!  That is some travelling.  They continued to tour in the Americas through 1978.

We were fortunate enough to find a video of Virgil and Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic performing the Spirit Cabinet on the old television show, The Gary More Show in the 1960s.  We have embedded it above to show a truly professional couple perform amazing feats under incredible test conditions.  They truly were of the old and fondly missed school of magic.

We love going down the rabbit hole and find that if we are in a hardware store, a carpet center, Costco or even a bicycle shop, our mind — small as it is — activates its Magic Obsession Gene and we will search out magic of some kind.  Tricks we could create, tricks we know, and objects we just know are worth buying to bring back to the shop and develop into the next miracle.

Whilst on the web, we do the same thing and can spend hours tracking down minute and sometimes conflicting. details about our art.  (For example, there is a debate whether Virgil appeared on Ed Sullivan.  Some web authors say he did — and there is even a brochure with images that were allegedly taken during the performance — but we have read other authors like David Charvet, author of a Virgil biography with help from Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic, who claim he did not perform the Sullivan show because he was concerned stage-hands would learn his secrets during rehearsal.   (*See, Magic Cafe at https://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=98821).  If, in fact, he did not perform on the show, that demonstrated incredible devotion to his craft — at the time, The Ed Sullivan Show was must-see television for all America and the launching pad for The Beatles in the U.S.

Our interest is only piqued.  We will continue to search and learn about this man we so fortunately uncovered in our search for soft, silver dollars minted in a factory that came and went during the silver strike days in Nevada.

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One thought on “Virgil the Magician – An Unexpected Treat”

  1. Virgil was a famous name 1930’s and 40’s. Sadly, not much information is available about him. The story of how he met Julie is also exciting. This article is very nice. Thanks for posting this rare video of Virgil and Julie, the Sweetheart of Magic, performing the Spirit Cabinet.

    I appreciate your efforts in collecting and presenting this information. Thank you very much.

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