Rare footage of magician Cardini (Richard Valentine Pitchford, 1895-1973). .
Richard Valentine Pitchford was born in Britain on 24 November 1895, in the Mumbles, in Swansea. Some sources use the incorrect year of 1899.
He joined the British Army during World War I, where he passed time in the trenches by practising card manipulations. One result of his many hours of practising outdoors in frigid weather was that he developed the ability to perform card manipulations while wearing gloves. After being injured in battle, he continued to hone his magic skills in a hospital.
After an unsuccessful attempt to establish himself as a stage magician in British variety, he travelled to Australia, where he performed initially as Val Raymond before adopting the name Cardini. His new name advertised his mastery of card manipulation and paid homage to the most famous magician of the era, Houdini. Cardini subsequently performed in Canada and then entered the United States from British Columbia. While working his way across the U.S. he met Swan Walker in Chicago, who became his wife and lifelong assistant. In New York City, Cardini became an almost immediate success, as audiences (and magicians) had never seen such an act. Cardini enhanced his performance by incorporating his magic tricks into a skit. Sleight of hand, gestures, and the appearance and disappearance of objects were all timed precisely and exactly coordinated to music.
He performed in New York at The Palace, Radio City Music Hall, Copacabana and other prominent nightclubs and reviews, and in London at the London Palladium. In 1938 he gave a command performance for King George V.
In 1945 he became president of the Magician’s Guild, at the death of Theodore Hardeen.
In 1957 at the age of 62 he appeared on one of the few magic television shows broadcast at that time, Festival of Magic.
He died on 13 November 1973 in Gardiner, New York.