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Adelaide Herrmann

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Adelaide Herrmann

Cover of Sphinx (April 1903)
BornAdele Celine Scarcez
August 11, 1853
London, England
DiedFebruary 19, 1932 (age 78)
Community Hospital, New York City
Resting placeOak Hill section, Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx New York

Adelaide Herrmann (b.1853-d.1932) was born of Belgian parents in London, England. She came to the United States in 1868, when sixteen years old, as a member of the Kiralfy family of celebrated dancers. After her marriage to Alexander Herrmann she was chief assistant for her husband. She continued his show after his death with his nephew Leon Herrmann. She later created and starred in her own oriental act. Adelaide died 1932 in the Community Hospital, 8 St. Nicholas PL, New York City, of pneumonia.


Adele Celine Scarcez (Adelaide) met Alexander Herrmann while he was performing at Egyptian Hall in England. At the time she was part of the Kiralfy’s Dance Troupe. She later learned to ride a Velocipede, which was a unusual kind of bicycle, which became a specialty act that she could perform.

The two would run into each other again a short time later and began a relationship. On March 27th, 1875 Alexander and Adelaide were married in New York.

Adelaide was quickly brought into the Herrmann act, though in the earliest days she actually dressed in male clothes and was referred to as “Mr. Alexander”. Eventually, her male clothes gave way to female attire as Adelaide became an important part in the illusions presented by Herrmann. Their version of the Aerial Suspension was called “The Slave Girl’s Dream” and they created a unique presentation for the effect. Other routines which featured Adelaide included the Spirit Cabinet, The Cremation Illusion, and an act where Adelaide was shot out of a cannon!

They enjoyed a busy and prosperous life together until Dec 17, 1896 when Alexander passed away in route to Bradford, Pennsylvania. According the Adelaide, her husband had always intended to pass the show onto his nephew Leon Herrmann, so Adelaide summoned him from Europe to join her in a new show. Though he was a fine magician, Leon didn’t have the command of the language that Alexander had and therefore did not quite fill the shoes of the Great Herrmann. Leon and Adelaide performed together for three seasons and then split up and went their separate ways.

Adelaide soon returned to Vaudeville stages presenting her own solo act. She even learned difficult billiard ball manipulations and featured them in her show. She had a flair for beautiful costuming and also for developing clever twists to add to her show. She had a very successful solo career until 1926 when a warehouse fire destroyed all the Herrmann illusions and magic props and killed all the animals featured in her show.

With the help of fellow magicians, she was able to rebuild an act and continued to perform until her retirement from the stage in 1928.[1]

Adelaide was one of the few magicians to perform the infamous Bullet catch trick, which had been an occasional feature of her husband's act. On January 19, 1897, a month after his death, she stood in his place in front of a firing squad at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Publicity material describes her as catching six bullets fired at her by local militiamen.[2][3]


  • Adelaide Herrmann Queen of Magic: Memoirs, Published Writings and Collected Ephemera (2012)


  1. Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic
  2. Cover, Genii Magazine, Vol. 63, No. 8, August 2000, Adelaide Herrmann, by James Hamilton, page 40
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