The Radium Girl is a stage illusion of the classic type involving a female assistant in a large box and is probably best categorised as a penetration or restoration-type illusion. Its origins and history are much less well documented than those of many other "big box" illusions but some sources indicate it might be one of the earliest examples of that type of trick. References and picture captions indicate it was the creation of British magician and designer
The magician recruits several volunteers from the audience. A female assistant is then introduced and one or more of the volunteers are invited to help her into a series of
restraints, which consist of leather straps with short chains or cords attached. Four short straps are fitted as cuffs around her wrists and ankles, a slightly longer one as a collar around her neck and an even larger one as belt around her waist. As the first group of volunteers complete the fastening of the restraints to the assistant the magician presents a cabinet and invites the remaining volunteers to inspect it. The cabinet is just large enough to accommodate a person in a standing position and it is initially open at the front and back. A panel, with a series of slots and holes in, is presented and fitted to the back of the cabinet.The assistant, now fitted out with the straps and chains, steps into the cabinet. The chains are passed through holes in the side of the cabinet and secured to fixings on the outside. This leaves the assistant apparently held in a standing posture inside the cabinet, with her arms at her sides and with little leeway for movement. A second panel, similar to the first, is presented and fitted to the front of the cabinet. This second panel has a stylised silhouette of a female figure painted on it, which indicates the approximate position of the assistant who is now hidden inside.The magician then pushes a series of rods through holes in the front panel (these are shown to have emerged through matching holes in the rear panel). The first rods apparently serve to further prevent any movement by the assistant and later ones look as if they must actually be pushed through her body. In addition a series of blades are pushed through slots in the front panel so that it appears the cabinet is divided into sections, each of which is too small for the assistant. Finally, a large square-sectioned tube is pushed through the middle of the cabinet from front to back. It is demonstrated that it is possible to see through the tube and pass objects through it.The tube, the blades and the rods are then pulled out of the cabinet and the front panel is removed, revealing the assistant unharmed and still held in position by the restraints.
References listed below attribute the creation of this illusion to British magician
Val Walker. Tad Ware, writing in the magazine "Magicol", has made a case that "The Radium Girl" was a source of inspiration to P.T. Selbitwhen he created an illusion called "Sawing Through". [cite web
url = http://geniimagazine.com/forum/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=17;t=000019
title = "The Genii Forum", November 2004
accessdate = 2007-02-26] Given that Selbit is widely credited with performing the first "sawing a woman in half" illusion in 1921 this would suggest that "The Radium Girl" pre-dates many other well-known "big box" type illusions. Some sources give 1919 as the date when Walker first presented "The Radium Girl". Known performances in more recent times include a presentation by English magician Jeffery Atkins at the
FISMcongress in Paris in 1973. [cite web
url = http://www.fism.org/Historic-Part4.htm
title = "F.I.S.M. History: part 4"
accessdate = 2007-02-26] Atkins, together with host
Paul Danielsand an assistant named Jackie, also performed the illusion on an episode of the BBC television series "The Paul Daniels Magic Show" (see picture). Another television magician, David Nixon, performed a version on one of his shows in the 1970s using singer Anita Harrisas his assistant. He titled it the "Thai Torture Trial" but, other than the omission of some restraints, it was essentially the same as the "Radium Girl".
* Tad Ware, "The Radium Girl", in "Magicol Magazine", pub by Magic Collectors' Association, (date unknown)
* Val Walker, written recollections published in "Abracadabra" magazine in 1968 (full details unavailable)
*A page at [http://www.marlowj.freeserve.co.uk/mg2.html The Magic Cave] website, which contains an image of an early performance of "The Radium Girl" by a magician referred to only as "Jeff".
*A section of the [http://geniimagazine.com/forum/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=17;t=000019 Genii online forum] containing references to Val Walker and "The Radium Girl" in the context of a discussion about books on the history of magic.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Radium — (pronEng|ˈreɪdiəm) is a radioactive chemical element which has the symbol Ra and atomic number 88. Its appearance is almost pure white, but it readily oxidizes on exposure to air, turning black. Radium is an alkaline earth metal that is found in… … Wikipedia
Val Walker — Valentine Val Walker (1890 1969) was an English magician, escape artist and illusion designer. Born in Mosely, Birmingham, he served in the navy and was billed as the Wizard of the Navy . [cite web url = http://www.houdini connections.co.uk/4… … Wikipedia
Jeffery Atkins (illusionist) — TOCrightHenry Jeffery Atkins (3 September 1919 19 March 2001) was a noted British magician. He is cited as a major force in the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) British Ring, for which he was honorary secretary and convention… … Wikipedia
Magician's assistant — Contents 1 History and critiques 2 Notable assistants 3 Assistants in art, fiction and movies … Wikipedia
List of magic tricks — This page contains a list of magic tricks. In magic literature, tricks are often called effects. Based strictly upon published literature and marketed effects, there are hundreds of millions of effects; a short performance routine by a single… … Wikipedia
Stage illusions — are large scale magic tricks. As the name implies, stage illusions are distinct from all other types of magic in that they are performed a considerable distance away from the audience, usually on a stage, in order to maintain the illusion.… … Wikipedia
List of Marvel Family enemies — Through his adventures, Fawcett Comics/DC Comics superhero Captain Marvel and his Marvel Family gained a host of enemies, including the following: Contents 1 Acrobat 2 Adolf Hitler 3 Amoeba Family … Wikipedia
Ottawa, Illinois — Coordinates: 41°21′04″N 88°50′16″W / 41.35111°N 88.83778°W / 41.35111; 88.83778 … Wikipedia
Marie Mattingly Meloney — Meloney Marie Mattingly Meloney (1878–1943), who used Mrs. William B. Meloney as her professional and social name, was one of the leading woman journalists of the United States,  a magazine editor and a socialite who in the … Wikipedia
medicine, history of — Introduction the development of the prevention and treatment of disease from prehistoric and ancient times to the 20th century. Medicine and surgery before 1800 Primitive (primitive culture) medicine and folklore Unwritten history is not… … Universalium