Transformations | CARDINI


Cardini, The Suave Deceiver

Richard Valentine Pitchford was born in Mumbles, Wales, November 24th, 1895. This beautiful mind and nimble fingers descended from hardworking parents who filled roles of clergymen, a watchmaking jewelers, theater-owners, and bandleaders. As a child he would become enchanted by Chung Ling Soo and developed an interest into the fine art of magic. Lafayette, Liepzig and Van Hoven would further the boy's growing passion for conjuring.

Legend has it that as a caretaker for a billiard parlor, the young Richard would become intimate acquaintances with billiard and gaming hustlers. From them he is said to have become initiated into the art and science of manipulation.

During his tutelage he studied with a world class billiards player, George Gray, and he himself developed into a billiards player of note. If the Great War had not have broke out it is very likely he pursued his ambition to turn playing this game into a career.

In France with the King's Shropshire Light Infantry, Richard practiced with a dirty pack of playing cards. The trenches were cold and damp and he is said to have worn gloves to stay warm. The world would eventually sit breathlessly watching cards appearing in fans from these same gloved hands.

"Twice wounded in France and shell-shocked, I was in a military hospital in Liverpool. All day long I practiced tricks. Indeed I was so constantly manipulating cards that the doctors, thinking I must be insane, put me in a mental ward." - Richard Valentine Pitchford

T. Nelson Down's classic book, the 'Art of Magic' was a constant companion in the trenches. In 1916, mid-way through the war his body was found almost lifeless at the front. These injuries are believed to be caused by a blast concussion. Reports were circulating that he had been Killed In Action. He was revived in a field hospital and suffered from severe shell shock.

During his recovery he would ask for playing cards and practiced non-stop. Thinking he was mentally ill for wearing gloves and repeating the same manipulations with cards all day the doctors had him incarcerated in a mental hospital in Southhampton, England.

"Learning how to do card tricks saved my reason,"

Richard's first audiences were soldiers and physicians. Deeming him harmless he was eventually released and given the chance to audition in front of a manager as a musician but did not make an impression. Dejected he decided to work as medium, reading minds under disguise as a woman named Madame Juliet. Struggling as an artist he traveled the English country performing his own magic act at the various music halls. His health and finances endured many tribulations at this period of his life and he ended up being employed by Gamages in London as a magic demonstrator.

One day at Gamages a very short, extremely well-dressed man walked into the department store while Richard was practicing vanishing cards. In those days Richard constantly practiced, even in public, and when he noticed this short man watching him he asked,

"Excuse me Sir, is there anything I can get you?"

and the little stranger replied,

"You're vasting your time, you're vasting your time!"

Richard responded,

"Well, I'm just doing a little practicing."

The little stranger took the cards and said,

"If you vant to vanish a card, here's the vay you do it!" and suddenly held up a card and it just seemed to vanish into thin air...

Both hands were empty, there was no reversing or maneuvering of any kind; the card just seemed to melt away.

The little stranger dropped a visiting card face down on the counter, walked away to the lift and went downstairs. Richard looked around to see if the vanished card was on the floor, but it was not there... it truly had vanished!

When Richard recovered from his astonishment, he ran to the lift, went downstairs, out of the store, and looked in both directions up and down the street, but the stranger had gone. Richard returned to work and remembered the face down visiting card that was left on the table. He turned it face up, and on it was written:

Max Malini

Honest to Goodness, I only cheat a little.

This was the only time these two legends would ever meet.

Moving ever onward Richard found work as a crew member on a cargo ship and sailed the world. Falling in love with Australia he underwent another transformation and became, Val Raymond, The Australian Gloved Card Expert. He found work on an ocean liner as a steward and was given the job because management like that he could also entertain the passengers, not with his card magic but with his ventriloquism.

Landing in Sydney flat out broke he decided to try his luck at the Tivoli circuit of theaters. He prepared himself by pounding back two Scotch & Sodas and stormed the stage in his street clothes. His card manipulations dazzled the onlookers and he was booked on the spot and advised to change his stage name as another man named Val Raymond was known to be wanted by the police.

Houdini had many imitators who would perform under his name or derivations of his name such as Whodini. Richard was advised to take on Houdini's name as it could boost his career and instead of throwing the idea away he thought about it and came up with the most iconic name in magic,


Under this name he would conquer the world, giving commands performances at the ends of the Earth for Royalty, Presidents, and Emperors. The name CARDINI would be featured on all the most prestigious theaters in the world and at the top of every bill he appeared on. He was considered to be an absolute sensation by everyone who saw him perform. Cardini is the single greatest artist ever to become involved in magic. Cardini became the most imitated and iconic act in history. His act soared above all other acts in magic and is perfect.

Cardini, The Suave Deceiver with Swan on board an oceanliner after a run of shows in England.

Changed Lives

Richard Valentine Pitchford transformed from a casualty of war into CARDINI, the greatest artist of all time.

Max Katz Breit came to America as a poor Polish immigrant and became MAX MALINI, the Conjuror of The Century & Royal Entertainer.

William Ellsworth Robinson went from being a struggling magician to CHUNG LING SOO, The Marvellous Chinese Conjuror.

Erik Weisz spend his formative years as a starving artist only to become HARRY HOUDINI, the world famous magician & escape artist.

Héctor René Lavandera lost his hand as a child, then went from being a clumsy bank clerk to being RENÉ LAVAND, a sensational card magician.

אורי גלר spent his early life in a Kibbutz, was injured in the Seven Day War as a paratrooper and survived to create a new field in magic and become URI GELLER, a global phenomenon.

A small boy was born without hands or feet and began his career as a nameless exhibition at fairgrounds only to become MATTHIAS BUCHINGER, The Greatest Living German.

An American child lost his sight at an early age only to become RICHARD TURNER, the World's Greatest Card Mechanic.

A young runaway and homeless youth would become Kellar's successor and conquer America as HOWARD THURSTON.

Orlando Carmelo Scarnecchia dropped out of the 8th Grade and went on to become a best-selling author and expert of gambling under the name JOHN SCARNE.

David White was born with his feet turned in and with small lungs only to revolutionize magic as DAVID BLAINE, the celebrated magician and endurance artist.

"There is real magic inside of each one of us. It's a magic that we all have that allows us to fulfill our dreams and turn them into reality, and all you have to do is believe in your own magic and then nothing is impossible." - Doug Henning