For former dancer and actor, see Valia Valentinoff.
Val Valentino, born Leonard Monatono (June 14, 1956) is an American illusionist who gained fame by starring in four magic specials exposing magic secrets on the Fox network, using the stage name the Masked Magician. He became well known in Brazil after his sketches were broadcast in Rede Globo's Sunday newsmagazine show Fantástico from 1999 to 2000, in which he was referred by the alias Mr. M.
Valentino was born in Los Angeles, California.
Valentino's first foray into magic was at the age of five with a trick called "the ball and vase" that his father gave him. In his teens, Valentino performed with the "International Cultural Awareness Program" for over a million students throughout the Unified School Systems. The performances also included revealing magic secrets to encourage others to become magicians. By the end of the 1980s and into the 1990s, Valentino had moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and was performing in casino shows including Viva Las Vegas and Splash, after having appeared on The Merv Griffin Show, as well as in the music video for Herb Alpert's "Magic Man".
For a span of two years (circa 1997-1998), Valentino performed, unbilled and disguised, as the "Masked Magician" on Fox network television specials called Breaking the Magician's Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed which exposed long-guarded trade secrets. The Masked Magician was also shown in the UK on the ITV network during the late 1990s and is still occasionally repeated on ITV4.
Valentino had been approached by Fox while he was performing in Las Vegas showrooms. After some negotiation, Valentino signed to do the program, promising that he would only reveal the secrets behind old illusions. However, when the programs aired, many newer illusions were also revealed. This sparked controversy, as many magicians feared that their illusions were now worthless. When he finally revealed himself at the end of the fourth show, he emphasized that he felt that revealing the secrets would encourage children into trying magic instead of discouraging them, and that the entertainment of magic shows was more in the magician's showmanship instead of the wonder of how the trick was pulled off.
New episodes of the show later returned to broadcast on MyNetworkTV. Episodes can also be seen on Fox Reality Channel. It has been disclosed that Valentino is reprising the role. Valentino appeared in the Masked Magician persona on a 1999 episode of Diagnosis: Murder.
In October 2007, a graphic novel starring the character of the Masked Magician was released.
The website of Nash Entertainment -- the producers of the Breaking the Magician's Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed -- lists a movie called Masked Magician, about a magician who uses illusions to fight crime, as "in development".
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license