David Abbott (magician)
David Phelps Abbott (1863 – 1934) was a magician, author and inventor who created such effects as the floating ball, later made famous by Okito. The best known of his books is Behind the Scenes with the Mediums (1907) considered to be one of the best exposures of the tricks used by mediums. One exposure being the "spirit portrait paintings" by the Bangs Sisters.
David Abbott was born in 1863 near Falls City and lived most of his life in Omaha. Abbott died in 1934 of diabetes. His burial was at Westlawn-Hillcrest Memorial Park, Omaha, Nebraska. He was married to Fannie E. Abbott.
Abbott became a wealthy businessman in the American Mid-West. He was well versed in arts and science. After Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity, Abbott attempted to explain it in a newspaper article. As an amateur magician, he performed for invited guests in his private theater he built at his home from 1907 until he died. There he demonstrated his Talking Teakettle (around 1907, decades before miniature radio electronics came into use) and Talking Vase (in 1909). Abbott built his work of magic and deception on the devious principles he learned from spirit mediums. Many of the greats in magic– Kellar, Thurston, Horace Goldin, Theo Bamberg, Ching Ling Foo, Blackstone and Houdini among others–made pilgrimages to Omaha Field Club neighborhood "Mystery House" to be dumbfounded and to learn.
Note: No relation to magician Percy Abbott (1886-1960), the owner of Abbott's Magic in Colon, Michigan.
- The Spirit Portrait Mystery: Its Final Solution (1913)
- The Marvelous Creations of Joseffy (1908)
- The History of a Strange Case (1908)
- Behind the Scenes with the Mediums (1907)
- David P. Abbott's Book of Mysteries, published posthumously by Walter Graham (1977).
Note: Abbott wrote a second full-length book, describing not only the "seances" given in his home but many magical feats which had astounded top professional performers; he died before it could be published, and for a long time the manuscript could not be found. When the Abbott home was sold in 1936, the manuscript was thought to be lost. It was discovered by Walter Graham and published as "David P. Abbott's Book Of Mysteries" in 1977.
- The Sphinx, October, 1906
- Who's Who in Magic History
- Brief Biography at The Magic Nook
- Karr, Todd. "David P. Abbott and the Notorious Bangs Sisters" at the Wayback Machine (archived October 26, 2007). Excerpt from Teller and Todd Karr, eds., House of Mystery: The Magic Science of David P. Abbott (The Miracle Factory, Los Angeles, 2005)
- Works by David Abbott at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about David Abbott at Internet Archive
- Works by David Abbott at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Behind the Scenes with the Mediums
- Abowitz, Richard. "A man, a ball, a hoop, a bench (and an alleged thread)… Teller!", Las Vegas Weekly, November 20, 2008
- Famous Head Removal