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Jack Merlin

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Jack Merlin
BornJohn William Myers
circa 1885
Schenectady, New York
DiedDecember 28, 1943 (age 57)
Marion, Indiana
Resting placeMarion National Cemetery
CategoriesBooks by Jack Merlin

Jack Merlin (c.1885-1943), born James (or John) William Myers (or Meyers), was an American card manipulator who performed as a vaudeville headliner.[1]


He originally teamed up with Frank Nightingale from upstate New York to do magic shows as Nightingale and Merlin. It was Frank who suggested that his friend use the stage name of "Jack Merlin". He legally change his name to Merlin and became a famous vaudeville act.[2]

In fall of 1908, Merlin left his partnership with Nightingale for England with the object of establishing himself as a professional magician. Within two years he was a vaudeville headliner. After returning to the United States in 1911 for more success, he made a trip to Australia in 1916, where he played the leading vaudeville houses there.

During World War I, he enlisted in the U.S. Cavalry in San Fransisco, California making the rank of Lieutenant by the wars end.

Jack lived for awhile in Indianapolis. His wife assisted him in the act in the manner of a spectator (picking cards and showing them to the audience).

Merlin always opened his act with the penetration of a glass of water through a derby hat and closed with cards across from C. Lang Neil's book The Modern Conjuror.[3]

His last known appearance was in 1934 at the Biltmore Bowl in Los Angeles. Bart Whaley's Who's Who in Magic states he was one of the magicians whose career suffered from, and life possibly shortened by, ill-controlled heavy drinking.[4]

A patient in a government hospital in Marion, Indiana for a number of years, Merlin died of a heart ailment there.[5]

He was buried at Marion National Cemetery[6] and records from VA list him as[7]:

  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/28/1943


  • "To me practice is something I cannot resist. I practice because I enjoy it. When I force myself to do it, I accomplish nothing."



  1. Ask the Doctor, MUM, JANUARY, 1985
  2. Magic A Pictorial History History of Conjurers in the Theater by David Price (1985)
  3. Genii 1966 March, Vol 30, No. 7, page 294 - Intermission by Charlie Miller
  4. World's Fair, August 15, 1963
  5. Millbrook Round Table, January 14, 1944