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Zera Semon

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Zera Semon
BornZera Babel Semon
Richmond, Virginia
DiedApril 9, 1901
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Resting placeMikveh Israel Cemetery #3, Philadelphia

Zera Semon (1847-1901) was a prominent American magician and ventriloquist who toured the east coast of the United States and Canada.[1]


Making his home in Richmond, Va, as was perhaps the leading conjurer at the time in the States making gifts a feature of his show. His program consisted of the usual effective tricks that are found in the repertoire of the better class of magicians and included a full stage set of life-size marionettes. Accompanied by his wife Irene (1850 - 1906)[2], they would perform a spiritualistic canopy act, similar to Robert Heller.[3][4]

Zera Semon's prizes would range from hams, lamps, and butter knives, to a fifty-six items set of French chinaware and a three piece living-room suite.[5]

He always won the sympathy of the audience because of his being a cripple—one leg being shorter than the other.

Kit Clarke reported in MUM that when he last heard of Zera he was located in Halifax, Canada engaged in the fish industry.[6]

After his death, his son Lawrence (sometimes confused as the son of Baron Seeman) was a cartoonist of the Evening Telegram, performed as a comedian and later as a magician.[7] Also known as Larry, he exposed some magic tricks in local papers while employed at a cigar store in Philadelphia in 1909.[8]


  3. Leaves from conjurers' scrap books, or, Modern magicians and their works by H. J. Burlingame (1891)
  4. Mahatma Vol. 4 No. 11, May 1901
  5. The Illustrated History of Magic by Milbourne Christopher (1973)
  6. MUM, Jan 1918
  7. Mahatma Vol. 4 No. 11, July 1901
  8. Sphinx,January 15, 1910