John Calvert (magician)

Madren Elbern "John" Calvert (August 5, 1911 September 27, 2013) was an American magician and film actor. He performed on stage (including Broadway) for eight decades both in the United States and worldwide. Siegfried & Roy cited him as an inspiration, and Bess Houdini said that he was second only to Harry Houdini in "play(ing) the part of a magician."[1]

John Calvert
Born(1911-08-05)August 5, 1911
New Trenton, Indiana, United States
DiedSeptember 27, 2013(2013-09-27) (aged 102)
Lancaster, California, United States
OccupationMagician, actor

He was also an actor who appeared in numerous movies and was the subject of a biographical documentary entitled John Calvert – His Magic and Adventures.[2] The Society of Young Magicians (S.Y.M.) Assembly #29 of the Boston area is named after John Calvert.

Early years

Calvert was born in New Trenton, Indiana and became fascinated with magic at age eight when his father took him to see the magician Howard Thurston perform in Cincinnati, Ohio. Shortly afterward, he performed his first trick for his Sunday school class - he made an egg appear from under another boy's coat.[1]

He made his initial magic tour when he was eighteen, performing in town halls in Kentucky backroad towns. His small troupe consisted of one assistant and "Gyp the Wonder Dog". He returned home with a $2.65 profit.

Depression era to the mid 1940s

During the Great Depression and into the 1940s, he continually increased the size of his magic show, adding illusions and personnel. He gained notoriety by performing daredevil stunts for publicity.

Acting career

From the mid-1940s through the late 1950s, he performed in approximately forty films, including starring roles in three Film Classic releases, in which he portrayed a debonair detective known as "The Falcon".[3][4] He also played as himself in a Malaysian movie in 1960, Mat Magic.


Calvert continued performing magic during his Hollywood days. In the mid-1940s, he transported his show's equipment and personnel worldwide in a Douglas DC-3 airliner, and in later years on yachts.[5]

Awards and accolades

In 2007, IBM Ring 257 named him Magician of the Year.[6]

His biographer, William V. Rauscher,[7] has called Calvert a "real-life Indiana Jones" because of his reputation for surviving dangerous circumstances in his travels. Even at age 100, Calvert traveled extensively, lecturing and performing magic.[8]

Calvert was invited to perform his magic act both on Broadway in New York City and at the London Palladium Theatre on his 100th birthday.

Personal life

Calvert married his wife Tammy in 1982. He died on September 27, 2013, aged 102.[9][10]


Year Title Role Notes
1943BombardierCalvert the MagicianUncredited
1944Ali Baba and the Forty ThievesThiefUncredited
1944Are These Our Parents?The Great Gaspar - Magician
1944The Mark of the WhistlerEddie Donnelly
1945Youth on TrialJud Lowry
1945The Return of the Durango KidLee Kirby
1945Ten Cents a DanceBreezy Walker
1945Lawless EmpireBlaze HowardUncredited
1948Devil's CargoMichael Waring / The Falcon
1948Appointment with Murder
1949Search for Danger
1952Gold FeverJohn Bonar
1956Dark VentureJohn Kenyon(final film role)


  1. Actor and magician John Calvert, who performed in Las Vegas for decades, dies at 102, by Ed Koch, at the Las Vegas Sun; published September 28, 2013; retrieved July 5, 2014
  2. Exclusive John Calvert Video | Archived 2010-01-31 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Devil's Cargo (1948) - IMDb
  4. Search for Danger (1949) - IMDb
  6. "John Calvert Named Magician of the Year by Fantasma Ring 257 of Las Vegas". The Linking Ring. 87 (11): 80. November 2007.
  7. MYSTICLIGHTPRESS.COM - Introducing William V. Rauscher
  8. Wier, Joel; McClenahan, John (February 2013). "John Calvert visits Fantasma Ring 257 in Las Vegas, Nevada". The Linking Ring. 93 (2): 59.
  10. "Happy 100th Birthday John Calvert". 2011-08-06. Retrieved 2011-08-09.
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