|Born||June 11, 1894
|Died||Aug. 21, 1992 (at age 98)
Ramona, California, United States
Dai Vernon, also known as The Professor, was a famous Canadian magician. Due to his expertise and extensive knowledge, he was highly respected by many people including his fellow magicians. He had a great influence in the world of magic and was a mentor to many famous magicians. He spent his final years at the Magic Castle.
Dai was born on June 11, 1894, in Ontario, Canada. Originally, Dai was born as David Fredrick Verner. At the age of seven, his father took him to a magic show and this changed his life. From that day, he fell in love with magic. He was enthralled when he got an early edition of the one of the most famous card book ever penned, The Expert at the Card Table. Dai processed the chapters of this book and by the time he was 13, he had memorized the book’s contents.
During his early teenage years, Dai had a famous encounter with an up-and-coming magician named Cliff Green. Green asked Dai what kind of magic he could do. Dai answered by asking Green to name a card. Dai them turned to the deck to reveal the card named and replied to the speechless Green saying, “That’s the kind of magic I do.”
Early Magic Career
As a young man, Dai Vernon made the move to New York where he found favor among many great magicians of this time. Some of those magicians include Harry Kellar and Dr. James Elliot. He started using his first name Dai when a newspaper used this name instead of using David.
When he first moved to the United States, there was a popular ice-skating pair with the surname Vernon. The American kept mistaking Dai’s last name for Vernon and so the magician finally gave in and adopted Vernon as his second name.
Fooling Harry Houdini
In 1919, Dai Vernon heard Harry Houdini boast that no one could fool him if he saw a trick performed three times in a row. Vernon decided to challenge him. He performed “The Ambitious Card” trick seven times in a row and stumped Harry. After this encounter, Dai took the opportunity to advertise himself as “The Man Who Fooled Houdini” in the 1920s and 1930s.
Becoming “The Professor”
After a short while, one of Dai’s friends, Garrick Spenser, named gave him the nickname “The Professor.” This was because of Vernon’s supreme knowledge and skill in sleight of hand. The name stuck and Dai dedicated most of his life to travelling all over the U.S. searching for card magicians, card cheats, and anyone skilled in close-up card manipulation.
Death and Legacy
Dai was among the most knowledgeable sleight of hand magicians that has ever lived. He has become the single most influential figure in modern magic, and he is also credited with inventing and improving many standard close-up effects with coins, card, cups and balls.
Dai Vernon spent his last few decades as a magician-in-residence at the popular Magic Castle in Los Angeles, California. On August 21, 1992, he died in Ramona, California. He was cremated and his ashes are interred at the Magic Castle. He was 98 years old.