Tony Slydini (September 1, 1900, Foggia, Italy – January 15, 1991), also known simply as 'Slydini', was a world renowned magician. Best known as a master of close-up artistry, he served as inspiration to a generation of magicians, including Doug Henning.
Tony Slydini was born as Quintino Marucci in Foggia, Italy. He was the son of an amateur magician who encouraged him to pursue sleight of hand at an early age. Slydini was attracted to the psychological aspects of the art, which would later show itself in his magic in the form of precise and expert use of timing and misdirection. He was also inspired by the relationship between the magician and his audience, which fueled his desire to be a close-up artist. While still young, Slydini and his family left Italy to live in Argentina. It was there that Slydini began to experiment more seriously with magic. He worked in South America's version of vaudeville for a time. But soon, the Great Depression hit and work became scarce. In 1930, he moved to New York City, landing a job in a museum on 42nd Street. From there, Slydini found work in carnivals and sideshows. On a visit with his sister in Boston, Slydini attracted the attention of an agent there, landing a job for $15 a day for a three-day show. His skill was apparent to those who saw him on those three days, including another agent who offered him another contract. This streak continued for some time: Slydini ended up performing in Boston for seven years.
Slydini died in 1991.
In 1945, in New Orleans Slydini showed his own special brand of magic. His style of close-up was something that had never been seen before: he was one of the first to show close-up magic as an art in itself, rather than as a lead-in to bigger and grander illusions. Slydini's magic was impromptu: rather than follow a set sequence of tricks, he allowed his audience and the situation to dictate his show. Reportedly, Dick Cavett once asked Dai Vernon who could still fool him. His answer: nobody but Slydini.