Suzy Wandas Bennett (1896 – 1986)


Augustus Rapp
Suzy Wandas Bennett was born Jeanne Van Dyk in 1896, in Brussels, Belgium to a performing family. Along with her father, mother, and one of her brothers, she was part of a family act, in which she began performing at the age of eight, as Miss White Flower, the dancing violinist. She also learned to perform magic, mainly coin and card manipulations, and by 1910 was performing it as part of the show. After her father died in 1912, she, her mother, and her brother performed as the Wandas Trio. When her brother was wounded in World War I, Suzy and her mother became the Wandas Sisters. At her mother’s retirement, in 1936 Suzy became a solo act.

Later in her solo career, she was no longer including the violin as part of her routine, focusing solely on manipulation, and she was quite famous for her act. Of her performance, Suzy said, “I tried to give the audience a performance filled with beauty and elegance. This gown in the picture was designed by Chemourd, a top Parisian designer on the Champs-Elysees. The dresses I wore were created just for me and cost thousands of dollars. But that’s what separates the great magicians from the amateurs – the total performance. All the amateur does is the trick, period.” Her elegant performances included manipulation with ropes, thimbles, cigarettes, canes, silks, coins, the Miser’s Dream, card fans, eight linking rings, and after she began corresponding with Zina Bennett, she added a dove trick to the act. Miss White Flower the dancing violinist became the Lady with the Fairy Fingers, a master manipulator.

Suzy spoke five languages, which was useful, as she performed all over Europe. She toured US, British, Canadian, and Belgian army camps during World War II and in 1952, won the contests at the Magic Congress in Hastings, England. In 1953 she made her first U.S. appearance at the annual Abbott’s Get Together, where she first met Zina Bennett and his wife, Edna. When she heard of Edna’s death, she wrote Zina to express her condolences.

They continued to correspond and, in 1958, invitation to the World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium was accepted. After the trip, she had the courage to express her feelings for him, which he reciprocated, and a few short months later, they were engaged. Of the wedding, she wrote, “of course it shall be a big event in the magic world”. They were married in August of 1959, and she returned to Detroit with Zina as her husband. Her final performance was in Colon, Michigan, in 1962.

Even though her career as a performer had drawn to a close, she still performed with Zina, and she was not forgotten as an artist. In 1975 she was elected to the Society of American Magicians’ Hall of Fame, a tremendous honor. In 1981, Suzy received a Performing Fellowship from the Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood. And even though she was retired, she still practiced magic every day.

In her later years, Suzy’s health began to deteriorate, and she had more difficulty traveling. Peg Weikal, an active member of the Michigan magic community provided assistance to Suzy. She had more trouble getting by on her own, and eventually had to enter a nursing home. She died on July 12, 1986, at the age of 90.

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