Anyone who has seen the show "Breaking the Magician's Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed" that was popular in the mid 90's knows that the masked magician is indeed Val Valentino. But who is this Valentino guy anyway?
Birth NameLeonard Monatono
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 Alpert. 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, 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.