Her Career Lasted The Rest Of Her Life
In 1926, everything from Adelaide Herrmann’s magic act burned to the ground when her storage buildings caught on hire. She was in her 70’s, and she lost absolutely everything, including the 200 animals she used for Noah’s Ark. One man even died in the fire, as well.
Despite this major setback, she decided to rebuild and start over from scratch. She created completely new acts with things she could pull together quickly. Audiences still loved her act, and were impressed that she was able to make a comeback. She continued to practiced magic up until her death, when she died at age 79 from pneumonia.
So, if Adelaide Herrmann was really so amazing, why is she not remembered amongst the likes of Harry Houdini? The reason for this is likely because most of her belongings were burned, which meant that there was no market to sell her items. Part of the reason why magicians like Houdini were remembered is because auctioneers played up his memory to make his items seem extremely valuable. And there was no shocking or tragic end to her life that was a juicy story for the newspapers. Without any financial motivation to keep her memory alive, everyone stopped talking about Adelaide Herrmann after a few years.
If the fire had never happened, the world may still remember Adelaide Herrmann and talk about her just as much as they talk about Harry Houdini. Unfortunately, the world of stage magic is still dominated by men, even to this day, and it’s most likely because girls do not have female role models to look up to, like Adelaide. But she proved over a hundred years ago that sometimes, being yourself and showing your talent can pay off in a big way, and that girls can be magicians, too.
Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:
She Caught Bullets With Her Bare Hands- and Made Magic’s Glass Ceiling Disappear. Allison Meier. Narratively. 2018.
Adelaide Herrmann. What’s Her Name Podcast. March 5, 2018
Adelaide Herrmann. Wikipedia.