Thursday, February 17, 2011
The Divided Woman
P.T. Selbit was one of the most creative magicians of the Edwardian age. Born Percy Thomas Tibbles in Hampstead, London, Selbit invented many classic illusions still used by performers to day. Wrestling Cheese (1912), Walking through a Wall (1914), Sawing through a Woman (1921), Girl without a Middle (1924), Through the Eye of a Needle (1924) were all his creations, though some of contemporaries would claim otherwise, most loudly American Horace Goldin.
Goldin improved upon the trick by allowing a method for the subjects head, feet, and hands to remain in view for the duration of the trick, and registered many names for the illusion with Vaudeville Managers' Protective Agency which forced Selbit to call his trick The Divided Woman when he toured the states.
Mark Kalin and Jinger Lee perform a version of the original illusion.
Below, Howard Thurston performs the illusion, which he bought from Selbit for his own act. This illusion became so ubiquitous that it may well be the most recognizable stage magic trick ever.