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Professor Vertelli

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Professor Vertelli
BornJohn Morcom
June 12, 1840
Cornwall, England
DiedJanuary 8, 1914 (age 73)
West Berkeley, California

Professor Vertelli (1840-1914) was a renowned tightrope walker in 1860s who later worked as a magician almost exclusively for the rest of his professional career.[1]


His father, a miner, left for the newly discovered gold fields in South Australia in 1848 and two years later his family followed him. In 1862, he won the championship medal for long range rifle shooting and in 1863 he made his debut as a performer on the flying trapeze. In 1865, he appeared in a triple trapeze act at the Theatre Royal, Melbourne. In 1866, he became a tight rope walker, accomplishing perilous feats on lofty wire ropes.

Then, as a magician, he visited every town of consequence in Australia and Tasmania. Later he left for China and Japan. While he was in Japan around 1875, for more than one year he appeared at many vaudeville theatres in Yokohama and Tokyo wher was very successful. Until then, no western magician had appeared at any popular downtown theatre in Tokyo because of many reasons. Therefor, he is considered a very influential western magician in early Japanese magic history.

After staying in Japan, he moved to San Francisco touring many cities in United States for more than twenty years. In his later year, he was stricken with paralysis of both feet and turned his attention to astrology and card reading, which then became his sole means of livelihood.[2]

His brother is brother Samuel was a leading 19th-century South Australian cricketer.[3]


  1. Sphinx Vol.12 Feb 1914