Cardini (Richard Valentine Pitchford)

Cardini (Richard Valentine Pitchford)
Born Nov. 24, 1895
Mumbles, Swansea, Britain
Died Nov. 13, 1973
Nationality British

There have been some legendary magicians who have entertained and enthralled audiences throughout the 20th century. Cardini (Richard Valentine Pitchford) was one such great pioneer.

While those who work as magicians remember him, Cardini has not achieved the perennial mainstream fame that some other pop culture icons have obtained. Cardini was, however, a pioneer in the concept of making the magician an entertainer.

Early Life

Cardini was born on November 24, 1895, in the town of Swansea in Wales. As is the case with many magicians, Cardini gained an interest in magic after watching someone perform tricks while he was a young child.

A man named Chung Ling Soo performed a number of cigarette tricks that truly captivated the Cardini’s attention. As he grew into a young man, he began to learn basic magic tricks and practice them.

World War I broke out in the early part of the 20th century and Cardini joined the British army. The Great War was known for its grotesque trench warfare. To pass the time in the trenches, Cardini performed card tricks. He was injured in the war and spent even more time practicing from his hospital bed.

The Start of a Career

Cardini developed amazing dexterity due to all of his time practicing. As a result, he built up and perfected his sleight of hand techniques. Also, practicing card tricks in the trenches while wearing really thick gloves may have contributed to the enhancement of this skill, which is necessary for being a great magician.

The career launched by Cardini was not successful from the beginning. He traveled around to nightclubs and along the performance circuit in England for a short while and was not very well-received. In fact, he was faltering so miserably that he had to leave Great Britain. He relocated to Australia where he was much more successful. Audiences in Australia found him entertaining.

He did not work under his known name from the UK as Cardini. Instead, he selected the stage name of Val Raymond during his Australian performances. Card tricks were a major part of his performance as he was a master of them.

Cardini Travels North America

CardiniMagicians had to move on and tour in order to earn a decent income. Going to a new territory with an unseen in that location generally meant good ticket sales. From Australia, Cardini traveled to Canada. From there, he entered the United States and then started working across the country.

In Chicago, he was a major hit. Eventually, he made his way to New York City. In New York, Cardini was a massive success. Audiences had never seen anything like the card tricks that he performed. And since New York City was the epicenter of live performances during the early half of the 20th century, he was really making a name for himself by being successful there.

He played at The Palace and Radio City Music Hall. Cardini was able to mix sleight of hand tricks with synchronized music to great effect and this helped make him a huge box office draw. Cardini even made a famous appearance on television in 1957 and this further garnered him great fame.

After a long career, Cardini (Richard Valentine Pitchford) passed away in 1973.