Dai Vernon

"The Man Who Fooled Houdini"

Born: 11 June 1894 in Ottawa, Ontario
Died: 1992 in Hollywood, California

David Frederick Wingfield Verner started practicing magic tricks at age five. He attended the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, then moved to New York in 1919 when he was ready to begin his magic career. He began using the name "Dai" after a typo appeared in a newspaper early in his career and "Vernon" when he discovered that New Yorkers were mispronouncing his last name.

In 1919 in Chicago, Vernon decided to challenge Harry Houdini's claim that if he saw a trick performed three times in a row, he would be able to figure it out. Vernon performed a trick called "The Ambitious Card" eight times in a row and Houdini was unable to determine how it was done. After that, Vernon advertised himself with the line, "He Fooled Houdini".

Dai Vernon improved old tricks and created many new ones. People travelled from all over to learn from him when he was resident magician at Magic Castle in Hollywood. Called "The Professor" by many, Vernon was arguably the most influential magician of the twentieth century and is considered the father of close up magic. He died in 1992 at the age of 98.

Additional trivia:

Vernon supplemented his magician's income by silhouette cutting.

More information on:

Magic Castle
Vernon as a silhouettist


By Name · V
By Province · Ontario
By Claim to Fame · Stage & Screen

Added 08 September 2002.