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Max Holden

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Max Holden

Cover of Genii (1948)
BornWilliam Holden Maxwell
August 20, 1884
Boston, Massachusetts
DiedJuly 03, 1949 (age 64)
Oceanside, New York, United States
Resting placeWoodlawn Cemetery
CategoriesBooks by Max Holden

Max Holden (August 20, 1884 - July 3, 1949) was born William Holden Maxwell in Boston, Massachusetts (although some references claim Glasgow, Scotland). He spent much of his time as a boy traveling between New England and Scotland, accompanying his parents on junkets. He began as assistant to David Devant in 1901.


He enjoyed success in England before coming back to the United States to work in Vaudeville. He worked with wife as the team "Holden & Graham". His major act was a colored-light Shadowgraphy[1]

He also worked with Vivian Le Clair around 1910 in Massachusetts (their photo can be seen in the Conjuring Arts' exhibit "The Many Faces of Magic"[2]

In 1914 Mr. Holden invented and patented a colored smoke picture trick called shadowgraphs, with which he toured Europe, Africa, Australia, the Par East and the United States as a headliner.

Holden spent his later life as a magic dealer, opening Max Holden Magic Shop in New York city (with branches in Boston and Philadelphia). He opened his first store in 1929 with support from Lewis Davenport.

He was a member of the London Inner Magic Circle, the Society of American Magicians, the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Magician's Guild .

Holden wrote a column which ran for several years in the Sphinx titled "Trouping Around In Magic".

Holden created the very popular Cross Cut Force. He also secretly helped Camel cigarettes with their series of magazine ads that explained magic tricks in 1933 under the tag line "It's Fun to Be Fooled, but It's More Fun to Know". It caused quite a scandal in the magic community, but no one found out Holden's involvement until after his death.[3][4][5][6]



  1. THE ART OF SHADOWGRAPH on Quick Change Artistry
  3. Knack Magic Tricks by Richard Kaufman, page 29
  4. Cover Genii Magazine, Vol. 13, No. 4, December 1948, MAX and TESS HOLDEN, page 109
  5. The Bat, Issue 68, August 1949, reprint of New York Herald Tribune, Wednesday, July 6, 1949: Max Holden, Ex-Vaudeville Magician, Dies, page 529
  6. Obituary Genii Magazine, Vol. 13, No. 12, August 1949, In Loving Memory, MAX HOLDEN, page 371
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  • Cover, The Sphinx, Vol. 25, No. 7, September 1926, MAX HOLDEN, page 181
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 8, No. 12, February 1929, MAX HOLDEN, page 978
  • The Sphinx, Vol. 31, No. 5, July 1932, Who’s Who in Magic, page 205
  • The Sphinx, Vol. 40, No. 1, March 1941, MAX HOLDEN, page 79
  • Goodliffe's Abracadabra, Vol. 7, No. 182, July 1949, IN MEMORIAM. Max Holden, Died 3rd July, 1949 by Goodliffe, page 412
  • The Sphinx, Vol. 48, No. 5, July 1949, Max Holden, page 138
  • The Conjuror’s Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 6, August 1949, In Memory Max, by Julien J. Proskauer, page 7, William Holden Maxwell, page 17
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 29, No. 6, August 1949, William Holden Maxwell, 1884-1949, page 79
  • Tops Magazine, Vol. 14, No. 8, August 1949, Max Holden Dies, page 25
  • Bio-bibliographisches Lexikon der Zauberkünstler Edition Volker Huber, April 2002, Maxwell, William Holden = Max Holden, Holden & Graham, USA Zauberkünstler (*20.08.1884 Boston, Massachusetts; †03.07.1949), page 228