National Library of Australia

W.G. Alma, magician

William George Alma (1904–1993)Model for The Elastic Lady undated

fabric, painted plywood, plastic and metal; 22.0 x 22.0 x 10.0cm

W.G. Alma Conjuring Collection

Donation by bequest, 1993

State Library of Victoria
Model for The Elastic Lady undated

The Amazing Alma, born William Bishop (1904–1993), was Australia’s best known magician.

When the vaudeville era ended, he opened the Alma Magical Company from the 1930s to 1947. He continued performing at popular cabaret shows, touring overseas and he entertained the troops in Korea.

These scale models for the illusions of ‘the Elastic Lady’ and ‘the Morritt Cage’ are from the W.G. Alma Conjuring Collection in the State Library of Victoria. (Such models helped Alma demonstrate products to customers.)

Alma stipulated that whenever an apparatus was displayed, its secrets must not be revealed.

‘the Elastic Lady’ required an assistant to place her head, hands and feet in stocks. The magician drew each section apart, giving the impression that her limbs were being stretched into impossible positions.

For ‘the Morritt Cage’, an assistant was locked in the narrow cage and the blinds drawn. Seconds later, the magician released the blinds to reveal an empty cage.

In 1958, Alma was awarded Gold Star Membership of the Inner Magic Circle, the highest tribute the international society of magicians can bestow.

He was awarded the Order of Australia for services to magic in 1991.

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