UDINIS - Daredevil Stirling and Joan Moore

This is an incomplete documenting of two performers in the world of magic and the allied art of Escapology, and a serious accident which occurred in 1942.

On Sunday, September 27, 1942, a female escapologist, Mrs Joan Alice Moore, had been suspended head-down at a N.E.S. carnival at Leichhardt Oval (in Sydney) while restrained in a strait jacket and hung on scaffolding above a fire. The inflammable material placed directly under Mrs Moore’s suspended body was fanned by the wind, such that the flames rose and ignited the ropes.  As she struggled to escape, the rope snapped, according to newspaper reports.

Moore fell several feet to the ground in front of 3,500 people,  and suffered injuries which Stirling 1 required her to be admitted to Balmain hospital; a fractured forearm and ankle, and damage to the lower part of her spine.

Joan Moore was reported to be aged 21, from Victoria St, Potts Point, Sydney. Her professional name was Udinis, though countless incorrect spellings of this name (eg. Eudiness) add to the difficulty of tracing her story.

It appears that the name “Udinis” was a title used for his partners by a showman who called himself ‘Stirling the Great’, or more often ‘Daredevil Stirling’.

As early as June 28, 1930, Stirling was noted as the organiser of an escapology demonstration on Princes BriStirling 2dge (Melbourne), where Harry Houdini had previously made a shackled bridge jump. He was locked in four pairs of handcuffs and placed in a weighted sack, and thrown in the Yarra River, escaping fifteen seconds later with the still-tied sack in his hand. “Udinis, the only woman escapologist in Australasia” was then pinioned in a strait jacket and suspended from the parapet of the bridge where, after five minutes, she released herself.  Presumably this was an earlier “Udinis”, since Joan Moore would have been only eleven at the time.

Stirling appears to have been a touring showground exhibition performer, making appearances at carnivals and fairs, and occasional variety theatre performances in which he is mentioned, between 1930 and 1953 as an illusionist, mind-reader, and escape artist. His showpiece escape was also featured in such locations as the top of the Adelaide Exhibition Building, and Grey’s Bridge in Brisbane.

In later years, Stirling announced a performance in Katoomba, west of Sydney, featuring little Janice Hollister, age 11, as ‘the youngest mind reader in the world’, answering questions while blindfolded. Apparently her mother though otherwise, for on January 29, 1953 she advertised in the Blue Mountains Advertiser to assure readers that her daughter would not be appearing in the show.

Joan Alice Moore, according to the article shown here (Truth magazine, August 20, 1944) joined up with Stirling around 1941 after leaving her husband.  She may have remained as a partner of Daredevil Stirling until as late as August 1946, when a “farewell  appearance” was announced at the Townsville Speedway.

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