Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Queen of Magic - Dell O'Dell

Nell Odella Newton
(Dell O'dell)
The World's Leading Lady Magician
(20 October 1897 - 5 February 1962)

Circus performer, Vaudeville actress, magician, and television star, Dell O'Dell was born to perform. After all, what kid can brag that her father owned a circus? She grew up amongst jugglers, circus animals, clowns and acrobats among others. She started off by juggling and magic tricks and became quite good at it, even developing her own cute rhymes and snappy style that endeared many to her act. Of all the acts in her father's circus, however, it was magic that truly fascinated Dell. She studied it ruthlessly.

So it only made sense that she would rise as a star within the big top. As her popularity grew, soon, not even the big top was enough. She entered vaudeville and even did magic tricks at burlesque shows. And she did it at a time when women had to work hard to even be noticed. But noticed she was indeed! Charles Carrer, a famous juggler from Zurich, Switzerland fell in love with her and the couple married in 1931. He not only managed her career, but also assisted in her show and even created and built special props for her. Soon, the beauty was gracing the covers of magazines. 

She became so popular, that in 1951, ABC signed her up for her own show - The Dell O'Dell Show. 

Sadly, Dell died of cancer in 1962 and donated her body to UCLA Medical School for research purposes. She will always be known and remembered for being a pioneer of magic and television!

Author Michael Claxton has done years of meticulous research to immortalize Dell in a biography entitled Don't Fool Yourself: The Magic Life of Dell O'Dell. It is a story filled with love and courage, tenacity and boldness. A tale for historians and anyone who loves magic. A spellbinding story of a fascinating woman. 

Synopsis:  In a field dominated by men, one of the most successful and busiest magicians of a generation was also a woman. Dell O'Dell grew up in Kansas, and learned to love show business amidst the sawdust and spangles of her father's circus. She began to entertain as a teenager, teaching herself to juggle, perform acrobatics, and work with animals. Eventually, she would go on to own her own circus, perform as a comedy magician in vaudeville, and finally find certified stardom as a headlining night club performer and television star. Half a world away, in Switzerland, Charles Carrer was learning many of the same feats of digital dexterity. He developed a polished, dapper, and amazing juggling act that took him on tours throughout the European continent, South America, and eventually landed him in America. It was there, in New York, that the two troupers met, married, and embarked on a partnership - on and off stage - that has to be read to be believed. In the pages of Don't Fool Yourself, author Michael Claxton draws on first-person accounts, revealing research, and rich historical archives to paint humanizing and captivating portraits of Dell O'Dell and Charlie Career - remarkable entertainers whose lives were intertwined - as well as fascinating bygone eras of American show business. A quality 6 x 9" hardcover, 332 pages, illustrated with dozens of unpublished images. As a bonus, each book includes a Dell O'Dell Dancing Doll novelty.

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