Wednesday, April 1, 2009


The Double Life of William Robinson, aka Ching Ling Soo
Jim Steinmeyer
hardcover, 2005
26.95 sale 10.95

Steinmeyer unveils the secrets behind the most enigmatic performer in the history of stage magic, Chung Ling Soo, the "Marvelous Chinese Conjurer." Soo’s infamous and suspicious onstage death in 1918 mystified his fellow magicians: he was shot during a performance of "Defying the Bullets," in which he attempted to catch marked bullets on a porcelain plate. When Soo died, his deceptions began to unravel. It was discovered that he was not Chinese but a fifty-eight-year-old American named William Ellsworth Robinson, a former magicians’ assistant and the husband of Olive Robinson. But even William Robinson was not who he appeared to be, for he had kept a second family with a mistress in a fashionable home near London.

A great read. Fascinating as biography, mystery and chronicle of early vaudeville and the world of magic at the turn of the last century.

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