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Billy Russell

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Billy Russell

Cover of Sphinx (Jan 1911)
BornWilliam Austin Russell
January 21, 1880
Batavia, New York
DiedDecember 6, 1966 (age 86)
Billy Russell (1880-1966) was a magician and magic inventor.


In 1898, Russell toured for several years with his "A Night in Wonderland" act and moved on to school shows when vaudeville died.

Later he prepared acts for the top magicians and escape artists of his day. Russell created Houdini's paper bag escape, first performed by Harry in his vaudeville act at Syracuse, New York and built the Milk Can Escape from Houdini's original drawings.

Russell also approved many of Howard Thurston's illusions before they were built.

In 1934, the International Brotherhood of Magicians held its world convention in Batavia in his honor .


  • Tricks with Cards (1900)
  • Conjuring Tricks (1908)
  • Ventriloquism for Amateurs (1908)
  • Amateur Conjuring (1909)
  • Tricks and Puzzles for Winter Evenings (1909)