9780786715121

The Glorious Deception: The Double Life Of William Robinson, Aka Chung Ling Soo, The "Marvelous Chinese Conjurer"

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780786715121

  • ISBN10:

    078671512X

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2005-05-24
  • Publisher: Perseus Books Group

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Summary

In a biography woven from equal parts enchantment and mystery, Jim Steinmeyer unveils the secrets behind the most enigmatic performer in the history of stage magic, Chung Ling Soo, the "Marvelous Chinese Conjurer"a magician whose daring made his contemporary Houdini seem like the boy next door. 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. Here is a look at the rough-and-tumble world of turn-of-the-century entertainments, the West's discovery of Oriental culture, and Soo's strange descent into secrecy as he rose to stardomwritten by the foremost chronicler of magic's history and culture. Due to the scandals surrounding Robinson's death, this is the first time his full story has ever been told. Photographs are included.

Author Biography

Jim Steinmeyer has invented many of the famous illusions used by leading magicians from Ricky Jay to Siegfried and Roy. He created David Copperfield's vanish of the Statue of Liberty. Steinmeyer has also designed magic for six Broadway shows and many other productions, including Mary Poppins, currently playing in London's West End. He is the author of Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear (also available from Carroll and Graf), the Los Angeles Times bestseller, which Teller hailed as "a radiant celebration of the genius, glamour, and gargantuan egos of stage magic." Steinmeyer lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Frankie Glass, an independent television producer. For more information visit jimsteinmeyer.com.

Table of Contents

Introduction vii
The Wood Green Empire
1(16)
Harry Hill's Saloon
17(15)
The Palace of Magic
32(12)
The Great Herrmann
44(12)
Olive Path
56(12)
The Black Art
68(14)
Harry Kellar
82(16)
Nana Sahib
98(16)
Abdul Khan
114(14)
Out of Sight
128(13)
The Marvelous Bullet Catch
141(11)
Escape from Sing Sing
152(12)
Ching Ling Foo
164(16)
Keith's Union Square
180(14)
The Folies Bergere
194(15)
The Alhambra Theater
209(18)
The Great Lafayette
227(15)
Defying the Boxers
242(11)
The London Hippodrome
253(16)
Tavistock Square
269(16)
Lonsdale Road
285(18)
Australia
303(17)
Edinburgh
320(16)
Asleep in the Air
336(16)
The Expanding Die
352(16)
The World and Its People
368(16)
The Charmed Bullet
384(14)
Death by Misadventure
398(14)
Epilogue 412(9)
Acknowledgments and Notes 421(16)
List of Illustrations 437(4)
Index 441(12)
About the Author 453

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