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Bill Amac

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Bill Amac
BornRobert William McFarlane
circa 1890
Birmingham, England
DiedMay 3, 1961 (age 70)
Birmingham, England

Bill Amac (ca. 1890 - 1961), born Robert William McFarlane, was a Birmingham mechanical engineer and British magician who presented an original illusion called the "Elusive Lady".


Known as 'Mac', hence his stage name "Amac", was also said to be for "A Most Amazing Conjuror".

Amac began performing around 1916 in English theaters. In 1921, he presented his original illusion "Find the Lady" (also known as the "Elusive Lady"). The illusion using three huge cards suspended from the flies and his lady assistant on stools behind them. As in the Three-card Monte, she could never be found, and finally she vanishes and reappears from the back of the theater.

During the 1920s, he toured America's Vaudeville theaters, with just this one act, and also did a European tour with his "Elusive Lady". The illusion and sole performing rights were bought by The Great Lyle for his "CAVALCADE OF MYSTERY" show in 1941, when Amac became his stage director.

Amac also create the pocket tricks: Educated Pencil, It's That Girl Again (1951) and Third Man.

At the 38th Annual Magic Collectors' Weekend in Schaumburg Illinois in 2007, Jim Steinmeyer delivered a keynote lecture entitled "Why Amac Drank."

Elusive Lady

Amac created the stage illusion "Elusive Lady", based on three card monte with giant playing cards. Amac performed it around 1921 in London. It was so successful that Amac later used it as his complete act.

Nicola developed a version in 1923 as "The Prison Door Illusion", which was also used by David Bamberg (Fu-Manchu) in 1931.

With Amac's permission, Cecil Lyle performed the original version from 1940 until 1955, calling it "Find the Lady".

Since Lyle's death in 1955, it has been owned and performed by Faust (Granville Taylor). Faust owns Amac's original "Find the Lady" equipment and holds the sole performing rights throughout the world for this illusion.

"Find the Lady" illusion is explained (but not generally believed to be Amac's method) in John Northern Hilliard's Greater Magic A Practical Treatise On Modern Magic.

At the 2007 L.A. Conference on Magic History, Jim Steinmeyer explained and performed his version of Amac's "Find the Lady" illusion. The method was not the same as Amac's.


  • Goodliffe's Abracadabra, Vol. 31, No. 798, May 1961, AMAC, page 275
  • The Linking Ring, Vol. 41, No. 5, July 1961, Broken Wands, Robert William McFarlane (AMAC), page 87
  • Genii Magazine, Vol. 25, No. 11, July 1961, page 459
  • The Magic Circular, 75, 821 December 1981, A Rich Cabinet of Magical Curiosities, By EDWIN A. DAWES, 80. When AMAC was an Undesirable Citizen in a 'Find The Gentleman' Routine, page 238