Larry Grey performing with Jumbo cards in Mr. Celebrity
September 13, 1894
East End, London, England
|Died||May 5, 1951 (aged 56)
|Cause of death||Suicide|
|Other names||Dizzy Wizard
Cardo the Great
|Occupation||Comedy Magician, actor|
(?–1951; his death)
Lawrence "Larry" Grey (September 13, 1894 – May 5, 1951) was a comedy magician and actor known as the "Dizzy Wizard". He also worked as an occasional actor and is known for voicing Bill the Lizard in Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland.
Larry Grey was born in 1894, in London, England as Lawrence Grey. He began his career in the 1900s in Canada before moving to the United States. One of his earliest tricks included Jumbo Cards, which inspired many of his later card tricks.
Around 1918, Grey met Dai Vernon in Coney Island. At the time, Grey had just begun his career in magic but was with little success and was only just managing to make a living. Grey and Vernon decided to work together, initially setting up a booth along Kengsington Walk, in which Grey would sell small packs of cards and magic props while Vernon would cut silhouettes. During this time Vernon and Grey lived together in a room on Coney Island. Vernon later taught him how to cut silhouettes and they both worked together cutting silhouettes at the Toronto Exhibition in 1919 and at a booth in New York City in the 1920s. In 1926 Grey and Vernon set up the Sleight-of-Hand Artists Club, their meetings were held in their Silhouette Studio on Broadway.
After meeting Vernon, Grey began to develop his performance style. His routines were often comedic and fast paced. He was best known under his stage name, "The Dizzy Wizard", due to his zany personality. He eventually earned moderate success amongst magicians and was particularly noted for his card and sleight of hand magic.
In 1941 Grey appeared in the film, Mr. Celebrity, as himself performing magic tricks with Jumbo Cards. The film was about vaudeville performers performing in a boarding house. He also appeared in a few other films during his lifetime.
Near the end of his life, Grey had his own Magic theater. on the boardwalk at Santa Cruz, California and did a comedy Magic act with his wife, Carlotta. He also made his most famous film appearance in Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland in 1951 as the voice of Bill the Lizard. He took his own life that same year.
Death and Legacy
In 1951, shortly after appearing in Alice in Wonderland, he committed suicide, aged 56. His death was greatly mourned especially by his good friend Dai Vernon who said he was, “One of the greatest card performers who ever lived”. Grey is mentioned frequently in columns written for the Genii magazine by Vernon.
- Mr. Celebrity (1941) - Larry 'Gardo the Great' Grey
- Alice in Wonderland (1951) - Bill, The Lizard / Card Painter (voice)
- He fooled Houdini: Dai Vernon, a magical life by Bruce Cervon and Keith Burns (1992)
- The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-Of-Hand Artist by Karl Johnson (2006)
- Billboard (magazine), July 24, 1926, page 40
- The Magical Bulletin, Vol. 10, No. 4, November 1922, Cover, LARRY GRAY—"THE DIZZY WIZARD", page 52