Val Valentino

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Born

6/14/1956 , East Los Angeles, CA

Birth Name

Leonard Monatono

Gender

Male

Biography:

Val Valentino magician, illusionist and actor who gained notoriety by starring in four magic specials on the Fox Network.

Val's first foray into magic was at the age of five with a trick called "the ball vase" that his father brought home while Val was recovering from an illness. After he returned to health, Val took up magic as a hobby and later discovered that performing small tricks would fend off the bullies that roamed his neighborhood. He continued in this vein until a short-sighted high school teacher told him that he would never get anywhere.

No one person is responsible for Val's return to magic. Instead, it was the work of a local Intercultural Awareness program he watched while he was a teacher's aide at a school in El Sereno, California. Val realized that he missed performing magic, so he auditioned for (and made) the Interculutral Awareness touring group.

By the time the 80s ended and the 90s rolled around, Val had moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and was performing in casino shows like "Viva Las Vegas" and "Splash"; after having appeared on "The Merv Griffin Show" and in a music video by Herb Albert. It is while he was performing in Las Vegas showrooms that the Fox Network found him.

Fox's Alternative Programming division was looking for a magician to appear in a series of a specials revealing the secrets behind selected illusions, and they had a long list of potential employees, Val among them. Although he initially turned the network down, Fox was willing to negotiate and Val eventually signed, promising that he would only reveal the secrets behind old illusions.

For a span of two years (circa 1996-1998), Val was known as the Masked Magician and the specials came to be called "Breaking the Magicians' Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed". It is unclear what caused him to do so, but Val "retired" after four specials and revealed his identity to the viewing public.

After retirement, Val decided to try his fortune performing abroad and departed the country for Brazil. His first attempt resulted in deportation, as he did not have the performance permits required by the Brazilian government. However, this did not discourage him and once he had received the permits, Val returned to Brazil, where his popularity soared. Masked Magician mania took the country by storm as merchandise bearing the face of "Mister M" (as they call him there) flew off the shelves and television ratings went through the roof as thousands of people tuned in to watch him every Saturday morning.

From Brazil, Val went to Japan, where he was received in a similar fashion. After that, however, nothing has been reported.

~)~

In one of the few chats he gave after being on American television, Val admitted that he had a desire to become an actor. However, becoming the Masked Magician put a kibosh on that dream, as all the networks refused to work with him after. (The only exception was CBS, which asked him to guest star on an episode of "Diagnosis Murder".)

However, Val was invited to be a guest of several talk shows and it is possible that he might have done some acting while he was out of the country, as he returned home with at least one award.