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BornWilliam F. Moore
Westerly, Rhode island

Onaip (1885 - 1959) performed an amazing illusion with a piano (Onaip spelled backwards).


Onaip ran away from home and his father's successful business to become a very successful vaudeville magician. Years later after he had retired from the stage, he and his wife were given a small pension by the family, on condition that they never speak again of their past which his father never approved. To ensure this, his wife burned all of their scrapbooks. [1]

Onaip, who opened at the New York Hippodrome April 27, 1908 and created a sensation with his new and mysterious illusion. Onaip would be "hypnotized" and placed on a stool at a piano. Immediately he began to play, when piano and player would begin to rise from the stage. When about five feet in the air, the piano and player moved from side to side, swaying and knocking, and finally piano and player were turned upside down, in which position Onaip continued to perform on the piano. As a closing to the act, piano and player turned a series of somersaults at the rate of about forty revolutions a minute, while Onaip continued to play tunes. The act would draw very little applause, because the people so mystified. [2]

Milbourne Christopher named it one of "The Great Magic Illusions of All Time". [3]

Around 1918 , M.S. "Doc" Mahendra learned that the illusion was in storage at a Chicago freight depot and was to be sold as unclaimed freight. He purchased the illusion for $20. Although he considered it a great illusion, he never did present it. [4]

The term "Onaip" has also been used to refer to any floating piano routine.


  1. A COLLECTOR'S NIGHTMARE by John A. McKinven, Magicol, November 1999
  2. Sphinx June 1908
  3. Popular Mechanics, December 1958.
  4. "Passing of 'Onaip'" By M. S. Mahendra in Linking Ring, August 1941 .