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Joseph Vanek

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Joseph Vanek
BornJuly 31, 1818
DiedDecember 11, 1889 (age 71)

Joseph Vanek (1818-1889), born in Hungary, was a scientist, then politician before becoming a professional magician that toured the world. His most well known illusion was taking the head off an assistant, even passing the decapitated head among the audience.

In 1843, was appointed professor at the Pester Seminar and was decorated by the Hungarian Government with the Silver Medaille de l'lndustrie for his work.

In 1849, Professor Vanek, fled to Turkey after his part in a failed coup in Hungary. Having to start anew, he decided to try performing. He was an immediate success began touring the world. In 1855, Vanek was finally able to return to his homeland after the Hungarian government declared amnesty. He performed throughout Hungary. Bartholomeo Bosco met Vanek in Budapest and adopted some of his tricks for his own program.

In 1868, he had built a magical pavilion in Calcutta which could hold five thousand, where he gave performances for several months.

In 1873, as part of another world tour, he included performances in the United States.

Vanek gave his farewell performance in Budapest on October 12, 1878.[1]


  1. Professor Joseph Vanek by Ottokar Fischer in Sphinx Vol. 36, no. 5, July 1937.