Nebraska Authors

David Abbott

AKA: David Phelps Abbott

Born 1863-09-22 near Falls City, NE (USA)

Died 1934-06-12
Omaha, NE (USA)

Abbot was an Omaha businessman who was famed as an amateur magician. He performed only on a stage he had built in his home, near 33rd and Center Streets in Omaha. The quality of his performances and of the magic tricks he invented brought numerous professional magicians to see his shows. Harry Houdini, Ching Ling Foo, the Great Blackstone and Harry Kellar were among his frequent visitors and Houdini was a close friend. The professionals admired his work, learned from him and adopted his tricks.

He was an early and persuasive skeptic of the work of so-called "spirit mediums" who claimed to contact and speak with the dead. He adapted some of their techniques of deception for his own magic tricks and wrote a best-selling expose of their fakery, his 1907 Behind the Scenes with the Mediums.

While Abbott wrote several books, he had been rumored to be working on a kind of magnum opus, his book of secrets, at the time of his death, but nothing publishable surfaced. The story of how the work, with meticulous documentation of his tricks, was saved by the owners of his former home and discovered by fellow magic enthusiast Walter Graham in 1974 is the subject of a June 2, 2013 Omaha World Herald article by Casey Logan "In this illusionist's house of mysteries, secrets didn't vanish."

NSHS has an on-line biography of Abbott, and there is a Wikipedia article.

Places Lived

Omaha, NE

Author Of

  • Nonfiction


Magic; Magicians




Behind the Scenes with the Mediums. 1907. In HR
The History of the Strange Case. 1908.
The Marvelous Creations of Joseffy. 1908.
The Spirit Portrait Mystery. 1913.
Spiritual Medium. 1919.
David P. Abbott's Book Of Mysteries. 1977.

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David Abbott

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)