December 31, 1898
|Died||August 13, 1965 (age 66) |
Battle Creek, Michigan
Ade Duval (1898-1965) was a professional magician remembered for his original magic effects and routines. He was known during the 1930's as having one of the most beautiful magic acts of the era, featuring an array of effects using silk scarves, culminating with a spectacular and stage-filling, rapid-fire production of silks from a small "Phantom Tube".
Ade started performing in Chicago with a school friend, Andrew Blaeser, as the "Duval Brothers" in the early 1920s. The pair performed in lyceum and chautauqua shows around the U.S. Ade went out on his own when his partner retired in 1927. Duval created an act based entirely around silk scarves, entitled "A Rhapsody In Silk" (the title suggested by Paul Fox and inspired by the title of George Gershwin's then-popular composition, "A Rhapsody in Blue") which Duval debuted at the International Brotherhood of Magicians' 1928 convention in Lima, Ohio. Harlowe Hoyt, dramatic critic from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer newspaper saw the performance and recommended Duval to the manager of the Palace Theater in Cleveland. After Duval's appearance in Cleveland he was signed by Radio-Keith-orpheum (RKO) vaudeville, touring coast-to-coast in the U.S. over the next 5 years, with his wife, Gertrude ("True").
The Duvals appeared at the Palace Theater in New York, Radio City Music Hall (4 times) and in 1935 traveled to Europe with performances at the London Palladium, Rex Theater in Paris and Wintergarten in Berlin, among many other venues, including a command performance for England's Royal Family.
While other professional magicians were plagued with imitators, Duval's act was never duplicated. A large part of the "secret" was that the act required nearly one and a half hours of preparation before each 12 minute performance! By 1940, after appearances in Australia, Duval retired the all-silk act, and created an all-new act of general magic, including billiard ball manipulation, a vanishing cocktail shaker full of milk, and his original "Smoking Thumb" effect, a version of which was later performed by Fred Kaps. Duval's new act proved equally popular and he again headlined in theaters around the world. During World War II he made numerous tours for the USO, and following the war he became a feature on early network television show including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Ford Show, Cavalcade of Stars and The Kate Smith Show. By 1955, Duval was planning to premiere a new, streamlined version of his legendary silk act for color television broadcast.
Following a performance at the Magic Circle Golden Jubilee show in London, Ade was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and was forced into retirement, moving to Portales, New Mexico. True Duval died suddenly of cancer in 1955, and Ade lost interest in performing. His old Chicago friends, Edgar Bergen and Jim Sherman held a benefit show in Portales to raise money for an experimental operation to be performed on Duval to help his condition. The operation was a success and enabled Duval to present his manipulative act at the Buffalo IBM Convention in 1958, where he received an ovation from the audience. The effects of Parkinson's Disease returned by 1960 and Duval spent most of his later years in the hospital, near Battle Creek, Michigan.
In the early 1960's, Duval planned to write a series of books describing the details of his original magic, but only the climax of his Rhapsody in Silk routine saw publication by Magic Inc. in 1962.
The original "Rhapsody In Silk" act was sold by Duval to Adolfo Cerceda, who performed the routine with his partner as "Marcel et Petit". Cerceda retired in the 1970's.
Following Duval's death in 1965, family members destroyed his remaining props.
- A Rhapsody in Silk - Ade Duval (1962)
- Ade Duval - Silken Sorcerer by David Charvet (2009)