Dell O'Dell No. 4: Nekko Omar Perfect Mystery

In this home movie, Dell is performing her adaptation of the Nekko Omar Perfect Mystery, a prop created by William "Doc" Nixon in the early Thirties. She vanishes or produces a rabbit from an apparently empty box that has been suspended between two uprights.

Nixon's props were expensive in their day, and this one was advertised as virtually self-working. That term, of course, is a misnomer. It meant that a prop didn't require specialized sleight-of-hand skills to operate, though no effect is good without a masterful presentation. And that's where Dell shined as a performer.

It's likely that Dell owned more than one Nekko Omar Perfect Mystery, as she often bought multiples of her apparatus so that she could replace them as she wore them out. Dell was hard on her props, which had to endure rough and frequent handling.That's why her husband, Charlie Carrer, often reinforced them, frequently adding a shiny Krinkle Krome exterior that resisted fingerprinting. It's visible in this video. Charlie was a master mechanic and metalworker and thus an essential partner to Dell, besides being a brilliant juggler in his own right.  

—Michael Claxton, with thanks to Gabe Fajuri and Phil Schwartz


playlist 5 videos

Dell O'Dell

Starting her training early as a circus juggler and acrobat, Dell O’Dell eventually found success as a glamorous and entertaining magicienne, launching her magic career in 1929. Working with her husband, Charlie Carrer, a professional juggler from Switzerland, the couple often worked together, and Charlie did double duty by serving as Dell’s assistant on stage, too. During the Fifties, Dell and Charlie moved to the West Coast. While maintaining a touring show, Dell also made time to film her own television show, aptly called The Dell O’Dell Show. Her live, half-hour, magic show aired weekly in Los Angeles for two years, and in 1953, she became the first female magician nominated for an Emmy.


Dell and Charlie made hours’ worth of home movies, filming themselves and with magician friends; and there are also short clips of Dell and Charlie performing. These scenes form a lively archive of the couple in their prime. We are pleased to present a few of these treasured moment of history in this playlist. Clips here were originally housed in the McIlhany Collection and are now a part of Magicana’s archive.

By Michael Claxton
Author of the biography Don’t Fool Yourself: The Magical Life of Dell O’Dell