Joseph Dunninger

From Kook Science

Joseph Dunninger
Joseph Dunninger - Evening Star (p. B-2) - 1938-05-01.jpg

Alias(es) "Master Mind of Modern Mystery"
Born 28 April 1892(1892-04-28)
New York City, New York
Died 9 March 1975 (82)
Cliffside Park, Bergen Co., New Jersey
Affiliations Universal Council for Psychic Research
Known for Mentalism, sleight-of-hand

Joseph Dunninger (April 28, 1892 - March 9, 1975), also known professionally simply as Dunninger, was an American mentalist and stage magician.

Selected Bibliography

  • Dunninger, Joseph; Kraus, Joseph H.; Bridges, Milton A. (1926), Popular Magic: A Selected Series of Magical Tricks for the Layman, Amateur, Lyceum Entertainer and Stage Performer, New York: Experimenter Publishing Co. 
  • Dunninger, Joseph (1935), Inside the Medium's Cabinet, New York: David Kemp and Company 
  • Dunninger, Joseph (1936), How to Make a Ghost Walk: Simple Directions for Staging a Séance, New York: David Kemp and Company 
  • Dunninger, Joseph (1944), What's on Your Mind?, New York: World Publishing Co. 

Press Coverage

Houdini Manifestation (1929)

on Haunted Houses (1936)

v. Elizabeth the Transcriber (1937)

Dunninger was a particular target of Elizabeth O'Hare, the Transcriber of the Special Elected Spirit Band, who paraded at 42nd St. and Broadway in New York City in spring 1937 wearing a placard that read: This is a challenge of Conan Doyle, the Spirit, vs. Joseph Dunninger, the Liar - or - Is Joseph Dunninger the Debunker and Ghost-Breaker Really a Ghost-Breaker or Is He Ghost-Broken?

Mentalism (1938)

  • Anderson, W. W. (1 May 1938), "Dunninger Reveals Thoughts Concealed in Mind of Author; Last of Magical Trio Puts Little Faith in Work of Dr. Rhine", Evening Star (Washington, D.C.): B-2, 

    NEW YORK, April 30 — My mind is no longer my own. Joseph Dunninger has done the impossible and shared it with me.

    Figuratively, this last of that magical trio of Houdini, Thurston and Dunninger, walked into my brain and for two hours revealed my unspoken, unwritten thoughts.

    He projected his will over telephone to my wife — whom he has never seen nor spoken to. And they were 10 miles apart.

    I merely thought of three numbers, and instantly he told me what they were.

    I sat 6 feet from him, shuffled a deck and drew six cards at random, carefully shielding each as I glanced at and numbered them face down on the table.

    Mr. Dunninger named them correctly and in the proper sequence. We were alone in a corner of a large dining room. There were no mirrors. No confederates. He did not touch the cards. I had shuffled and dealt as his eyes were averted.

    Feat Is Exhausting.

    “You could do the same, very probably, if you practiced long enough,” he said. “Many people could. You've had manifestations of this kind your self surely — thinking the same thing another person is thinking. But as I do this over and over, it is very exhausting — like running a hard foot race.”

    He lay back in his chair, relaxing. He passed a hand over his heavy forehead, cloaking for a moment his dark, piercing eyes.

    I asked if he could duplicate the recent announcement of Dr. J. B. Rhine of Duke University that 49 persons he had conducted experiments with had predicted, to an unusual degree, how cards would lie after shuffling.

    Mr. Dunninger shook his massive head. He leaned forward and lowered to nearly a whisper his full, sonorous voice.

    "As chairman of the Universal Council for Psychic Research," he said, "I will pay $1,000 to any one who can predict even one time in three, in my presence, my shuffle of Dr Rhine's 25-card. 5-suit deck (which uses stars, circles, squares, etc.). But the person must be recognized by competent authority as an expert at prophecy, for this would be no mere guessing game of crackpots."

    Emphatic in Disbelief.

    Dr Rhine had said 113,075 predictions before shuffling were made and that the average correct prophecy was 5.1: that one of the best averaged 7.1 correct forecasts in 106 calls of a full deck.

    The professor concluded that something besides chance entered into the call of the cards, but Mr. Dunninger, not attempting to explain it, was emphatic in his disbelief of prediction.

    “Telepathy,” he said, "is the only phase of the psychic I believe in. Some people have the faculty for receiving thought waves from others. Nearly every one can acquire it.

    “I cannot read your mind unless you help me by concentrating at least a little. There is no trick to it. Only practice. You can learn to be a pianist, but you may never acquire a distinctive style. You may learn telepathy, but never be a good telepathist. Too, there are good and bad subjects to work with.”

    I looked around the room at the few late diners and chose two strangers. I walked over and asked if they would lend themselves to an experiment, then shuffled a regulation pack of cards and put it in Mr. Dunninger's hands behind his back.

    He asked first one man, then the other, to choose, mentally, a card and concentrate.

    Runs Through Deck.

    They did. He began to run through the deck, and suddenly looked up at the first man.

    “You’re thinking of two cards," he said.

    The man denied the accusation.

    "Nevertheless, you are, perhaps subconsciously,” Mr. Dunninger asserted. “But I'll try. King of clubs?”

    The man shook his head.

    Mr. Dunninger waited a full minute and said: "Try again. Think of one card only.”

    Then he ran through the deck once more and, turning to the second man, said: "Trey of hearts?”

    It was right.

    To the second: “Nine of hearts?”

    The man said it was correct this time.

    I then shuffled another deck and began drawing cards one by one, glancing at each before placing it guarded and face down on the table.

    Mr. Dunninger called them all correctly.

    I thought of a name and he told me that.

    As an added experiment I put a pack of cards in my pocket and called one by one those I wanted Mr Dunninger to pull out. He pulled nine correctly and missed one.

    He said he could will another person at a distance to pick a card of his own choice and asked me to name some one.

    Picks Right Card.

    “My wife.” I suggested. “She doesn't know you. And she has no idea what we intend to do."

    Mr. Dunninger agreed.

    He selected a card from a red backed deck, placed it in a black backed deck and sealed it as we went to a phone. As I dialed he wrote something on a paper and threw it on the floor, telling me to keep my foot on it. Then he stood off to one side

    The connection was made and I asked my wife to spread out a deck of cards, pick up the first one that caught her eye and tell me what It was.

    Her voice came over the wire: "It's the ace of spades."

    I opened the sealed park and the single red-barked card was the ace of spades. I took the paper from under my foot and on it Dunninger had written: "Ace of spades."