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Topic: Cardini's Act - Year 1931
Message: Posted by: Paul Chosse (Jun 4, 2003 07:25PM)
Don't know if this is the best place for this, but it is interesting and this forum gets the mosts hits - they can move it they like. It is a description (First hand) of Cardini's Act from 1931. It is from personal correspondence between two well known magicians of the era.

Page One

"(This is written from memory, so there are probably a few errors in detail or sequence. Moreover, Cardini occasionally makes slight variations or omissions in his working - intentionally and otherwise. Please keep this to yourself, as I like him personally and, in addition, it would be a pity to broadcast the very clever act he has developed. You will note he is not working his thimble routine.)

He works "in one" with a black drop. At left (audience view) is a stand, upon which rests a small shallow box with the lid up. At the centre are three steps leading up to narrow double doors, above which are an arch and the word "RITZ". At each side of doors is also an ornamental lamp, the post of which supports a small round shelf. This central setting is in "modernistic" style. On the left lampstand is a telephone. At right of stage is a three-legged stool, upon which is a brass bowl.

Except during his card work, he now has soft music through practically the entire act. Overture of "Three O'Clock In The Morning" and phone rings. Mrs. C. enters from the left in bellhop uniform and answers phone: "Hello? Right!" Replaces receiver and says:"Calling Mr. Cardini, calling Mr. Cardini." Spotlight on double doors and they open inward, revealing him facing audience. Wears full evening dress, opera hat, monacle on black ribbon, black silk-lined cloak, loose-fitting suede gloves, knobbed cane under left arm, holds newspaper (folded in quarters) in both hands. Has half a deck or more of cards palmed in each hand.

Descends steps and turns to his right, facing Mrs. C. Stage lights come on. Has back-palmed the cards in right hand and now produces them from her nose in a fan. Tosses newspaper to her and drops some of the cards on to paper, back-palming most of them. Produces these again in a fan and drops some more, back-palming the rest. Repeats three more times, then shows right hand empty. Takes cane from under left arm and twirls in right, throws it from hand to hand, then replaces under arm. Takes large white silk handkerchief from outer breast pocket and places between middle fingers of right, loading cards from left palm on back of right. Produces several fans of cards, dropping them on to paper. Intersperses this with showing front and back of hand and pulling handkerchief back and forth between fingers. Finally pulls handkerchief clear of right hand and produces a last fan. Drops cards on to paper held by Mrs. C. Meanwhile, steals deck in case from holder under right coat tail. Produces it casually and removes cards, tossing case on newspaper.

Page 2

Faces audience and springs cards from hand to hand twice. Pretends to do a third time by quickly separating hands and riffling deck held in left. Forms a round blank fan held in left hand. Repeats. Removes face card and knocks it down into centre. Forms round fan in left hand showing spots of cards. Repeats and passes fan from hand to hand. Then three more such fans, each smaller than the preceding one. Riffles one-half of deck into the other and forms a double fan. Does waterfall shuffle. Repeats. Makes Charlier pass with left. Then a triple-cut and a one handed shuffle. Another waterfall shuffle with cards held in leftand releasing pressure of right thumb on top. Fans half of deck in each hand and quickly works one into the other, backs of hands to audience. Repeats with palms of hands to audience, holding cards lower. Spreads cards sideways along left arm and does turnover, dropping one or two on floor. Drags one of cards on floor to him with right foot. Lifts foot and produces from it in a fan some cards which he palmed meanwhile in right hand. Does a couple of slieghts to vanish and reproduce deck or part of it. Turns to Mrs. C. and does ribbon drop a couple of times, finally dropping cards onto newspaper she holds, but retaining some palmed. Removes gloves and throws on paper. Gets palmed cards on back of right and produces fan. Drops some on paper, bacm-palming rest, repeating until cards exhausted. Hands Mrs. C. cane and hat. Sometimes produces from hat one of the new imitation rabbits. "Rabbit" probably in hat while on his head. He then collapses hat and hands both to Mrs. C. She exits and he takes a bow. (Denver Plaid No. 0 playing cards used)

Steals a cigarette from under coat at left breast, also Thayer mechanical cigarette holder from right vest pocket. Catches cig. in air and casually places holder in mouth. Pushes cig. down in left fingers a couple of times, then apparently again, but palms in right. Cig. apparently vanishes from left hand and appears in holder. Vanishes from holder and pulls cig. from right ear. Pushes cig. back into ear and it appears in holder. Vanishes from holder and produces cig. on right leg. Pockets holder. Takes lighter from right pants pocket and simultaneously a lighted match from under vest with left hand. Lights lighter with match and lights cig. Replaces lighter in pocket and holds lit match above head. Blows toward cig. held in front of him and match goes out. Throws it away.

Does a couple of passes with lighted cig. turning to his left. Steals orange ball from under left coat tail, faces audience and produces. Apparently swallows ball but palms in left and produces from under vest. Several other passes, then steals green ball from under left coat tail under cover of left turn and does a change-over palm. Works color change by holding orange ball in left and passing right hand over it. Repeats by tossing up first the green ball from right hand and catching in same hand, then tossing up orange ball instead from same hand. Tosses up orange ball again and catches, when click is heard as it strikes palmed green ball. Makes gesture of annoyance and repeats, meanwhile stealing white ball from under left coat tail. Shows orange and green ball, then produces white one. Turns to his rightand tosses each ball singly into right hand held high, catching each between the finger. Steals blue ball from under vest with left. Produces and tosses up into right with other balls. Throws two balls off stage singly. Holds remaining two on top of each other between palms of hands, then turns hands with fingers pointing up and rolls balls up and down. Throws these two off stage, but steals from vest and produces red ball before throwing off fourth ball. Occasionally, however, as in the past, he throws balls off and takes a bow, before producing red ball."

Message: Posted by: Adam V (Jun 4, 2003 07:37PM)
Fascinating stuff as usual Mr Chosse. I was lucky enough to watch a video of Cardini performing his act. To this day I haven't anybody perform a manipulation act that comes anywhere near his. What a genius!
Message: Posted by: Gary Plants (Jun 4, 2003 10:59PM)
Hey Paul,

It has been a while.....I have enjoyed reading all of the vast knowledge that you have been sharing with everyone. We had talked about the Cardini Act and I am glad to finally see it. Anything new on the McMillian book?

G. Plants
Message: Posted by: marko (Jun 6, 2003 02:16AM)
Very interesting. I've only seen spots of Cardini's act in old clips, but they'll never do justice, I'm sure, to having seen this man perform live. A genius indeed.
Message: Posted by: SDR (Jun 6, 2003 02:34AM)
Excellent! Unfortunately, I have only ever read about the man. The same goes for Tony Slydini. I wish I had the chance to see one of these guys in action!
Message: Posted by: DJ Trix (Jun 10, 2003 05:02PM)
Where can we see Cardini preform? I have been looking for this ever since I started doing different manipulations.

Are clips of him in any videos out today? I think he is in one of Lance Burton's specials but not sure if it was him...

Thanks, and thanks for sharing that with the Café
Message: Posted by: Paul Chosse (Jun 10, 2003 06:20PM)
There is a whole other half the act yet to describe - I'll post it as soon as can get the time to just sit and type. I don't know where you would get a clip of Cardini now. I have one video of him from a TV show circa 1954, and that is it as far as I know. You do know he's dead right? At least I hope he's dead; they buried him! Your reference to the Burton Special is what made me ask.

Best, PSC
Message: Posted by: Gary Plants (Jun 19, 2003 06:54PM)

Finish this up.....PLEASE.
Message: Posted by: Paul Chosse (Jun 19, 2003 07:42PM)
Here it is, the balance of the Cardini Act as described first hand, way back when:

Apparently places red ball in right and vanishes, producing duplicate from right pants pocket, with shell on it. Works moves with these two red balls and the shell, vanishing and reproducing back and forth from one hand to the other. Steals a different colored ball from vest. Introduces it into shell held in right, which also holds a red ball. Looks at other red ball in left and at same time does color-change with right hand, by working red ball into shell and forcing out the ball of a different color to take its place. Shows the three balls freely and taps. Steals a fourth ball of another color from vest and gets it into shell. Does color-change with right again while looking at red and other ball in left. Shows balls freely and throws off stage singly, palming shell in left. Takes a bow. Places both hands in pants pockets and gets rid of shell.

The cig. He has been smoking throughout is now very short. He turns and walks to left of brass bowl on stool at right of stage, stealing a cig. from under breast of coat with left hand. Produces this second cig (which is not lit), places in mouth and puffs some smoke retained from other cig. Then throws in bowl the dead cig. just produced. As there seems no reason for this, think the idea is that the second cig. is supposed to be a lighted one and that frequently it has gone out by the time he steals it, so he cannot use it. Otherwise he would throw away the short cig. he has been smoking and use the lighted cig. just produced.

Moves away from drop and takes white silk handkerchief (a second one) from outer breast pocket. Twirls it ropewise, attempts to tie a knot in it and fails. Repeats. Ties knot and the silk unties itself (usual thread method). Replaces in pocket.

Is still smoking what is left of cig. Quickly goes to stand at left, bends over it and looks into box on stand. Meanwhile steals from back of stand six lighted cigs. placed there by Mrs. C. through slit in drop while he worked with the silk. Makes a half-turn with cigs. thumb-palmed in right and quickly goes over to brass bowl and stool on right of stage. Stands to left of bowl and catches first palmed cig., throwing butt in bowl. Places cig. between lips, goes to take it again with right hand and discovers another in this hand. Takes cig. from lips with left and places second one between lips. Looks at cig. in left, then discovers another in right. Throws two in bowl singly, smokes third and catches another. Throws third in bowl and catches fifth. Throws fourth in bowl and backs away, catching another. Throws fifth in bowl. Orchestra plays "Good-night, Ladies". Turns and meets Mrs. C. coming on with hat, cane and cloak. She hands them to him, with another load of lighted cigs. behind hat, which he palms in right. Mrs. C. gets bowl from stool and follows him with it as he backs across stage to left wing, wearing hat and with cloak over left arm and cane under it. He continues to catch singly the cigs. she brought on and throws them in bowl. One is caught by his left hand and must have been transferred there or else was a separate load received from Mrs. C. Twice he steps close to her and only apparently puts cig. into bowl, really tonguing. Then apparently catches a cig. and places between lips, really revealing tongued cig. Also steals a couple of dummy cigs. from under coat, the last one being taken openly -- apparently from right inside breast pocket. Apparently smokes those before throwing in bowl by using tongued lit cig. Finally removes a cigar, apparently from this pocket, and exits puffing it, having retained smoke from a previous cig. Reappears for a bow and is smoking a pipe. FINALE.

There you have it, a first hand account with the methods (as best the guy could tell) included. This is an amazing letter, and there is more of it, but mostly gossip and supposition. The meat of the letter is what you have read thus far. I hope this has been of some interest to you. I have other documentation like this if people are interested. Letters describing other great acts of the Cardini era. Let me know if there is an interest in this kind of historical information...

Best, PSC
Message: Posted by: Schaden (Jun 19, 2003 07:45PM)
Thanks, for taking the time to right that PSC. It is intresting to learn how he worked.

Message: Posted by: Sid Mayer (Jun 19, 2003 10:49PM)
I had the privelege (and that's what it was) of seeing Cardini (real name Richard Pitchford) perform on stage a number of times. This was in the '40's (1940's not 1840's). His act, at the time, was very much as described by PSC although I do not recall the elaborate stage set.

Cardini, in addition to being a master manipulator, was an excellent actor. He appeared as the epitome of the English clubman on his way home after a night on the town. He portrayed slight befuddlement at the magical happenings, almost as it he had nothing to do with them.

His physical misdirection (his was, of course, a silent act) was superb. When the monocle fell out as he opened his eyes in astonishment, he could have stolen any kind of a body load.

Some of you may find it hard to believe, but Cardini was actually better than David Blaine.

Message: Posted by: Attilio (Jul 16, 2003 04:32PM)
Hello pchosse

Thank you so much for posting that letter!!!! I've always been fascinated with magical history and reading about some of the masters. This was a real treat!!!!!

thanks again :)
Message: Posted by: jonmeister6 (Jul 16, 2003 05:56PM)
Yeah, he was better then David Blaine.. lol... He is better than a lot of people of todays scene.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Jul 16, 2003 06:57PM)
The film I saw of Cardini had a really cool ending... all the while he worked, there was a gent sleeping in a big stuffed chair behind him (the scenery was like a gentleman's club) and as Cardini finished with the pipe production, he noted the sleeping gent had a "better" pipe... Cardini walked by him and swapped the pipes, smiled and walked off.

It was very common for acts in that era to have their own stage scenery. Almost no one worked just in front of whatever curtain happened to be there....

I have suggested to a number of performers to have their own curtains painted by a scenic theatrical outfit, but few seem to care...

Message: Posted by: zombieboy (Jul 16, 2003 08:00PM)
Thanks for the description. I have long wanted to see his act, but this decription is great until I can find a video. Thanks again.
Message: Posted by: Ron Giesecke (Jul 17, 2003 02:34PM)
On 2003-06-10 19:20, pchosse wrote:
I don't know where you would get a clip of Cardini now. I have one video of him from a TV show circa 1954, and that is it as far as I know.

Tommy Wonder is shown watching Cardini's manipulation act on a video monitor at the L&L studio. . .perhaps Louis Falanga has it.. . . it appeared to be a good copy.

Tommy used it as a springboard for the intro to one of his three volumes (I can't remember which and am too lazy to go dig it out right now).

Hope this helps,

Message: Posted by: magic4u02 (Jul 17, 2003 04:48PM)
Wonderful stuff. Thank you so much for sharing that with us.
Message: Posted by: Vibono Magic (Jul 18, 2003 10:18AM)
The great Norwegian manipulator Toreno did a lecture on the Cardini act a while back. It is avalible from International Magic in London. On this tape you will find some intresting facts and it analizes why Cardini was/is so great and why it worked.
Message: Posted by: Gary Plants (Aug 3, 2003 09:20PM)
Thanks for finishing up the Cardini letter. Just great!!
Message: Posted by: bigchuck (Dec 9, 2004 08:07PM)
Reading stuff like that is one of the main reasons I started coming to the Café in the first place... Mr. Chosse, thanks so much for taking the time and the trouble to dig this up, type it all & share it with us.
Message: Posted by: zaki_rafih99 (Dec 9, 2004 09:34PM)
I saw the same act as pete. with the bigger pipe in the end. my friend has it on tape, with a greg frewin act, lance Burton candle/dove act, norm neilson card/violin act, paul gertner tonight show act , and a few other performers.... I hafta get that tape again lol!!!!
Message: Posted by: Regan (Dec 9, 2004 10:18PM)
Thanks Paul!

Message: Posted by: rtgreen (Dec 10, 2004 10:57AM)
I posted this a few weeks ago, but since there has been so much discussion on Cardini lately, I'll post it again...

I found this site mentioned on alt.magic. It is about Cardini and has some interesting stuff posted. You may want to check it out.