The Magic of Joseph Dunninger
Featured in this week’s History of Magic is Joseph Dunninger, who was born on April 28, 1892 in New York City. He was the son of a textile manufacturer. As a self-taught, child prodigy, he became fascinated with magic about age 5, after watching street magicians. He gave his first performance aged 7 for a Masonic Club in New York, billing himself, “Master Joseph Dunninger – Child Magician”. Dunninger specialised in sleight of hand with cards and by age 16 had secured his first one year engagement at the Eden Musee in Coney Island. The Musee was a large entertainment complex / wax works featuring variety acts but it was not long before Joseph Dunninger was signed with the then famous Keith-Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit. While on tour he became fascinated with a two person mind reading act presented by the husband and wife team Mr & Mrs John T. Fay and from this he developed his single person mental act, reading the minds of his audiences, many of whom were celebrities. At age 17 he was invited to perform for US President Roosevelt and for Pope Pius X11. In his early youth he met Buffalo Bill Cody and Sioux Indian chief Sitting Bull who left marked impressions upon the young Dunninger for their respective strength of character. His voice was to become more recognisable than many radio and T V personalities. He became the first person to hypnotise someone on radio and often did blindfold drives for publicity.