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Radium Girl

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The Radium Girl is a stage illusion of the classic type involving a female assistant in a large box and is probably best categorized as a penetration or restoration-type illusion created by Val Walker. Its origins and history are much less well documented than those of many other "big box" illusions but some sources indicate it might be one of the earliest examples of that type of trick.

Tad Ware, writing in the magazine Magicol, has made a case that The Radium Girl was a source of inspiration to P.T. Selbit when he created an illusion called Sawing Through.[1] Given that Selbit is widely credited with performing the first "sawing a woman in half" illusion in 1921 this would suggest that The Radium Girl pre-dates many other well-known "big box" type illusions. Some sources give 1919 as the date when Walker first presented The Radium Girl.

Known performances in more recent times include a presentation by English magician Jeffery Atkins at the FISM congress in Paris in 1973.[2] Atkins, together with host Paul Daniels and an assistant named Jackie, also performed the illusion on an episode of the BBC television series The Paul Daniels Magic Show. Another television magician, David Nixon, performed a version on one of his shows in the 1970s using singer Anita Harris as his assistant. He titled it the Thai Torture Trial but, other than the omission of some restraints, it was essentially the same as the Radium Girl.


  1. The Genii Forum, November 2004
  2. F.I.S.M. History: part 4
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