Radiana was a “robot” or “automaton” employed by the magician Professor John Popjie, who toured in the 1920s and 1930s. Radiana could do some amazing things, like co-pilot a plane, drive a car, bake a cake, and even shave a brave member of the audience.
However, Radiana was no robot. In a version of the Golem illusion, there was a real person inside the automaton. The magician’s assistant was a small woman who used real hands to perform the feats while the audience was focused on Radiana’s face or Professor Popjie.
It would appear that Great-Aunt Kathleen – something of a ‘trouper’ – worked for one “Professor Popjie” who toured the world with his amazing “robot” Radiana. This supposed automaton would perform feats such as shaving willing audience members, apparently under Popjie’s control.
According to Great-Aunt Kathleen’s son, the pictures were taken around 1927 when Kath was 21. “She was small enough to fit inside the sphinx and manipulate the head, hands and legs. She worked for Popjie for 3 years. He proposed marriage to her – which was not accepted…”