Stage magician and actor;

Stage magician and actor;

Born August 5, 1911; Died September 27, 2013.

John Calvert, who has died aged 102, spent more than 90 years doing magic tricks. He first produced an egg out of thin air to impress his friends when he was eight and received a standing ovation at the London Palladium two years ago shortly after his 100th birthday.

Calvert started working as a professional illusionist in the late 1920s and perfected many of the illusions that are now standard fare around the world, including levitating objects and sawing people in half. Houdini's widow ranked him second only to her husband in the field.

He also enjoyed a relatively brief career as a film star, after taking over the role of The Falcon from George Sanders and Sanders's brother Tom Conway in the popular detective film series in the late 1940s.

But it was as an illusionist that Calvert enjoyed his greatest success. It is estimated that he made more than 20,000 stage appearances between 1919 and 2013.

His act made him rich and he travelled the world by private plane and yacht, surviving his plane crash-landing, an encounter with pirates and the loss of several boats. He once spent 16 hours in shark-infested waters off Borneo, according to his biographer William V Rauscher, who compared him to Indiana Jones.

Calvert was due to appear at the Palladium in the early 1950s at the end of a UK tour, but Norman Wisdom's run was extended and Calvert's show was switched to the Finsbury Park Empire. Calvert said he would like to play the Palladium when he was 100. And he did.

Born Madren Elbern Calvert in New Trenton, Indiana, in 1911, he became fascinated with magic tricks after his father took him to see an illusionist and he began touring in the US in his late teens, building up a reputation and a fan base that included Hollywood celebrities, who would sometimes serve as volunteers in his routines.

On occasion Danny Kaye would come on stage, dressed as Hitler, and Calvert would saw off his head, put it in a sausage machine and produce wieners, much to the delight of the audience.

Calvert got into films after being recruited to teach Clark Gable how to handle playing cards in the western Honky Tonk (1941). According to Calvert, Gable was "all thumbs", so the film-makers used close-ups for Calvert's hands instead.

Calvert subsequently appeared in a string of supporting roles, played The Falcon in Devil's Cargo (1948), Appointment with Murder (1948) and Search for Danger (1949) and wrote, produced and starred in a couple of later films.

He is survived by Tammy, his wife, whom he married in 1982, and by a daughter.