Marion, Frederick (1892– )
Stage name of Josef Kraus, famous European performer of
stage telepathy and clairvoyance during the 1930s, who also
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Marion, Frederick
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claimed paranormal powers. Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia,
October 15, 1892, he was the son of a businessman and grew
up in a practical atmosphere. When he manifested psychometric
and clairvoyant talents, his family was annoyed rather than
impressed, and prescribed castor oil for an oversensitivity. At
school, however, the boy became adept at games of locating
hidden objects and sometimes enlarged this talent by giving
detailed descriptions and information relating to the owners of
the objects. Towards the end of his school days, he found it expedient
to present his psychic abilities in the form of so-called
‘‘tricks’’ at school concerts and other entertainments. He
passed his final examination in mathematics, not because he
understood the principles involved, but because he had the unusual
talent of being able to memorize the test volume of problems
and formulae from beginning to end.
After enrolling for university studies, he saw a newspaper report
about a Viennese performer named Rubini who claimed
special powers of finding concealed objects. Stimulated by his
student friends, Marion issued a challenge that he could rival
Rubini’s feats. The story was taken up by a local newspaper, and
a committee was appointed from among the Prague police and
personalities of the city. Marion undertook to find, in a stipulated
time, several objects hidden by the committee in different
parts of Prague and described in a sealed envelope deposited
at police headquarters. Marion later stated that his spectacular
success was due to the fact that he established telepathic communication
with the chairman of the committee, and indeed,
there seems no other way in which he could have obtained access
to the sealed information.
He became an overnight celebrity, and at the age of 19 was
invited to perform at music halls throughout Europe. He was
billed as ‘‘The Telepathic Phenomenon’’ or ‘‘The Man with Six
Senses.’’ In 1913 he appeared in Moscow on the same bill as
Fred Karno’s ‘‘Mumming Birds,’’ a show that included Stan
Laurel and a little clown who later became world famous as
Charlie Chaplin. In England Marion was sometimes billed as
‘‘The Human Bloodhound,’’ since he helped the police in various
European countries to unravel crimes through his telepathic
powers.
During World War I, Marion served in the Austrian Army,
and while stationed in Albania, he tried his hand at water dowsing.
He rapidly became so well known for his successes that the
military authorities commissioned him as an officer and sent
him to different areas to find water for the troops. He found
traveling around the country somewhat arduous and experimented
with what has since become known as ‘‘teleradiesthesia,’’
holding his divining twig over a large-scale map instead
of visiting the area (see radiesthesia). He was remarkably successful,
and this gave him more time to spare, which he spent
in giving shows to entertain the troops. After a bullet wound
and a bout of malaria, he was sent back to base at Innsbruck in
the Tyrol.
After the war, he returned to his music hall demonstrations,
and in 1920 met the remarkable stage clairvoyant Erik Jan
Hanussen, who combined extraordinary talents with blatant
trickery. Marion warned Hanussen that his growing preoccupation
with black magic would have disastrous consequences, but
the warning was not heeded. According to Marion, it was
Hanussen who instructed the inner circle of the young Nazi
Party in the power of signs and words and first proposed the
swastika as the party symbol. Hanussen was murdered by Nazi
thugs in 1933, for disclosures that were embarrassing to the
party.
In his later years Marion appeared less frequently at music
halls and confined his talents chiefly to lecture demonstrations
and private consultations. In 1934 he visited England and gave
impressive demonstrations of his psychic talents. During a lecture
at the Aeolian Hall, New Bond Street, London, he was
challenged by Lady Oxford, who stated that his reconstructions
of past incidents in the lives of members of his audience were
too precise to be genuine and must have involved confederates.
Thereupon Marion correctly reconstructed an incident in the
life of Lady Oxford’s husband, Lord Asquith, in August 1914,
which no other person could have possibly known. Lady Oxford
was tremendously impressed and made a public apology,
acknowledging that Marion’s talent was genuine.
In 1934 Marion submitted to a long series of scientific experiments
directed by S. G. Soal at the National Laboratory of
Psychical Research, London. Soal was skeptical of Marion’s
ESP but concluded that Marion had unusual hyperaesthesia,
or unusual acuity of the senses. Soal stated ‘‘My laboratory experiments
show that Marion performs his amazing feats by the
aid of remarkable powers which are probably possessed by not
one man in a million. There can be no question of either collusion
or trickery in his public performances, judging from what
I have seen him do single-handed in the laboratory. . . .’’
However, this hardly did justice to Marion’s amazing feats
outside the laboratory, including precognition, clairvoyance,
and telepathy.
Marion was also tested by noted psychic researcher Harry
Price, chiefly in locating hidden objects. Price, like Soal, concluded
that Marion somehow gathered imperceptible indications
from the other individuals present who had seen the objects
hidden. But he could not say how minute indications were
possible, since Marion had no physical contact with the audience
(as in the famous ‘‘muscle reading’’ technique by which
some stage performers make contact with a spectator and can
interpret imperceptible movements of their muscles towards or
away from objects). Price even attempted to limit Marion’s view
to only one member of the audience, the others being screened
by curtains. Then the single agent’s body was further screened
off progressively by a box with adjustable panels, so that at
times only a fifth of his body was visible to Marion, and eventually
only his feet. Even under such extraordinary conditions,
Marion had a high rate of success.
After two years of laboratory experiments, R. H. Thouless
and Dr. B. P. Wiesner stated ‘‘We can say definitely that we are
satisfied that Marion shows paranormal capacities of an unusually
high order under strictly controlled experimental conditions.’’
During World War II, Marion joined ENSA (the British
troop entertainment service) and traveled around army camps,
demonstrating his ESP talents at troop concerts. On May 23,
1946, he took part in a BBC radio program investigating his
psychic abilities, one of the first British radio presentations of
a subject that was not deemed respectable.
Sources
Marion, Frederick. In My Mind’s Eye. London Rider, 1949.
Preliminary Studies of a Vaudeville Telepathist. Bulletin III.
London London Council for Psychical Investigation, 1937.
Price, Harry. Confessions of a Ghost Hunter. 1936. Reprint,
Causeway Books, 1974.