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Mystic Craig

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Mystic Craig

Cover of Genii (1968)
BornWilliam M. Vagell
Passaic, New Jersey

Mystic Craig (1900-1987), a professional magician who later owned a model railroad shop, was known for taking early movies of many magicians.[1]


Bitten by the magic bug by the age of nine, he started working a few school shows. By the time he was 13 he quit school and decided to become a semi-professional. He joined a small carnival where he did his act and then sold slum magic afterwards. He learned to lecture in the sideshow, tried vaudeville, spent time with a medicine show and then with Chautauqua.

He had hired Walter Plummer as his personal manager who gave him the name, "Mystic Craig."

Max Holden, who bought out the Al Baker Magic Company and opened a shop in New York, hired Craig as demonstrator. There he met Todd Petrie, of Petrie-Lewis, who hired him to demonstrate the P&L Magic Sets at Saks Fifth Avenue during the Christmas season.

Around 1925, Jean Hugard and Ralph Read helped him work out a pantomime act which became very successful. He began working clubs with the act and then close-up at the tables for tips.

He went back into vaudeville in 1929 just when the talking movies were coming in and vaudeville was starting to go out.

During With World War II, he went with the USO where he did shows in the Southwest Pacific, England and in France.

He was semi-retired after the war and invested in a model railroad shop where he sold Lionel trains.

He traveled the world and using expensive sound equipment, he shot thousands of feet of color 16mm color film of magicians. He donated his complete film library of magicians to the William Larsen, Sr. Memorial Library of the Academy of Magical Arts, located in the Magic Castle.[2]

In appreciation of that gift the Academy of Magical Arts bestowed on him the Honorary Life Membership.[3]


Marketed Tricks

  • Craig's Miracle Bar (1937)
  • The Simplified Bullet Catching (1938)


  1. Mystic Craig's Camera: A Record of 20th Century Magic, 3-DVD Set
  2. Obit, Genii 1987 September
  3. Cover, Genii 1968 January