Nate Leipzig

(1873 - 1939)

Stockholm, Sweden



. Inducted: 2004


As Leipzig himself says, "There were three particular traits [running] in our family: drawing, music and magic."

Nate Leipzig , (Nathan Leipziger), was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1873. The third youngest of a family of eight children.


While the other children in the home eventually became successful and renowned artists and musicians (especially with the piano and violin), Nate was the only one to take up magic seriously, and eventually his choice led him to the same successes as his brothers and sisters.

Dai Vernon first met Leipzig in the early 1900's in New York City. They became good friends, and Vernon praised his talents to all who would listen. Eventually, Leipzig granted Vernon permission to capature some of his fantastic moves and magic in the book, "Vernon on Leigzig" which is considered a must-read for serious students of magic.



Nathan moved about Detroit performance circles with ease as he grew up. An accomplished performer even at a young age, he performed in theaters and clubs in his teenage years. He never had any money, it seems. , Nate would often borrow his props and equipment from an amateur magician he had met as a young boy. The equipment may have been borrowed, but the inherent performance abilities of the Leipzig family was in his veins. He was a natural entertainer, and his skills with magic began to show immediately. Even as a child, , there was seldom a social function that Nate was not performing at.

He was good, but he was not great. Not yet.Nate's full mastery of magic was still far away. His act was sometimes crude, mistakes plentiful, and problems seem to happen on a regular basis. While his stage presence was not to be denied, his technical proficiency was still somewhat amateurish. Most of his effects were self-contained. Not much sleight of hand, mostly apparatus magic.

This changed for Nate after witnessing performances of other magicians in a local theater. Nate saw manipulations and effects which blew him away. He couldn't stop thinking about the moves and the routines he witnessed. . But more than that, Nate began thinking through solutions to the effects he was seeing. His knowledge of sleight of hand was not very deep at this time in his life, but that was quickly solved when the foreman of the optician shop gave him his first magic book dealing with sleights and card manipulations. This was the missing piece Nate had been looking for, and he devoured the material. He studied for hours every day.


Eventually, after some of the hardest work of his life, he began creating his own sleights and effects. "After reading the correct explanation of the rudimentary sleights and after I had mastered them, for I was more interested in card tricks than any others, it struck me that any one who had read such a book could easily follow all that I did. So right then I worked hard trying to invent new and original methods and after great efforts I succeeded in this aim. To that alone I attribute my success, since for many years my peculiar methods remained unknown and I was able to fool the magicians as well as the public. In fact many years later, when I had become a professional, my brother artists often called me THE magician."

By the early 1900s, Nate was known to many of the legends of the time. This despite the fact that he still lived in Detroit, and hardly ever left the city.

Magicians as far away as Europe were talking about his talent and skill. Because of his renown in this magical underground, Nate had a very open access to the great performers of the day when they would play in his city, and they found the young man charming and knowledgeable. As a result of this openess and his obvious knowledge of sleight of hand, many of the great magicians would pass on certain effects of theirs to him.

In what would be classical Leipzig style, he would use this knowledge and the ideas that came from others to further his own original effects and create even more powerful magic. Thurston, Kellar, Downs, and others gave him an education that books could never do, and he made the most of it. In some cases, these prominent performers became lifelong friends who admired and respected Nate and his talents.


Although Nate was somewhat well-known at this point, he felt he needed to leave Detroit to further his success. As half of a vaudeville act, Nate, against his family's wishes, traveled to New York City. In New York, Nate met many other magicians. Eventually the act split up, and Nate decided to invest himself in becoming a complete success as a magician and work on his own. It was a tough time for Nate; although he was now well-versed in the aspects of magic, the nuances of show business of the time eluded him. He struggled hard, trying to break into the business he wanted so much to succeed at.

Thanks to an acquaintance, Nate was invited to perform at a party that, unknown to him, was attended by some well-known, and well-connected talent agents. After his masterful performance at that party, Nate began receiving engagements regularly for good pay. He was on his way.

Nate was happy doing private parties. The money was good, the work steady, and his reputation was growing. However, Nate began performing on the vaudeville circuit after filling in for a friend of his. To say he was a success would be an understatement. With his regal bearing, his finely-honed continental stage presence, and his impeccable behavior on and off the stage, Leipzig was a sensation. He was such a success that when the vaudeville season came to a close, he immediately traveled overseas for engagements in Europe, performing before royalty and other prestigious engagements.

Leipzig set himself apart from others of his time by concentrating on entertaining his audiences. His success, due in no small part to the original sleights and methods he created, was spurred on by his easy presentations and grace. He was one of the first to elevate mere tricks into astonishing acts. Through natural movements during complex sequences, Leipzig appeared to be performing as easily as he breathed. He left his mark on the world of magic. As Vernon used to say, "there will never be another one like him."


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