Harold D. Russell, dubbed “The Divine Mind,” died Monday from complications of pneumonia. He was 86.

Believed to be the first black magician to join the prestigious International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians, Russell performed for 20 years, entertaining crowds at the “Breakfast with Santa” event at Dillard’s and many nightclubs in the St. Louis area.

In a 2005 interview with the St. Louis Journal, Russell described practicing his early tricks on Bullet, the family dog, saying “If he went to the wrong hand when I tried a disappearing trick, I’d think, ‘Hmm, I did it good because I fooled Bullet.”

A World War II veteran, Russell took up magic while in his 40s and married with five children. He received the Gold Medal Award from the Society of American Magicians in 2005, one of only seven magicians to receive the honor since its inception.

PHOTO: Wiley Price

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