Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Grave of Chung Ling Soo

(photo used with permission of Tom Atkinson)
Chung Ling Soo was the stage name of magician William Ellsworth Robinson. He was an American born in NY on April 2, 1861. His life story has been covered in a number of books, but the most extensive book is GLORIOUS DECEPTION by Jim Steinmeyer (a must read). Robinson was probably the most knowledgeable man in magic in his lifetime but he struggled to be successful. Instead he worked for the big names of the time like Alexander Herrmann, then Harry Kellar and then Herrmann again.

One day he witnessed a performance by an authentic Chinese Conjurer Ching Ling Foo and was so inspired by the performance that he decided to create his own oriental character Chung Ling Soo. Before long, a feud would break out between the two culminating in a showdown at a London Newspaper Office. However, Soo won the title as the best magician because FOO didn't show up.

On March 23rd 1918, Soo was fatally wounded on stage during a performance of the dangerous Bullet Catching Feat. He died the following day. Speculation continues to this day of whether or not it was an accident or perhaps some sort of planned suicide by Robinson. I tend to lean towards accident.

Soo/Robinson is buried in East Sheen Cemetery, Section B, grave number 219/220/221 London. Here is a photo of the cemetery entrance. The photo at the top of the page was kindly furnished by Tom Atkinson of Maidstone, Kent, England.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Max Malini Grave

Max Malini was born Max Katz on August 14, 1873 in Ostrov, which was near the border of Poland and Austria. According to information in the new article about Malini in Genii Magazine, Max got inspired to become a magician after watching a performance of Alexander Herrmann.

He began his professional career in Washington D.C. and eventually became a performer for royalty and high society. He chose a performing style different than most of his contemporaries. Where Houdini and Thurston and Kellar traveled with huge amounts of apparatus and props, Malini developed an act mostly on sleight of hand routines. But he learned that it was his personality that was the real selling point. His ability to garner publicity was similar to that of Houdini's. He did do rely upon exciting dangerous escapes however, rather his small close-up effects bordered on the miraculous and he made sure to present them before influential people.

Max died in Hawaii on October 3rd, 1942. He is buried in the Waldheim Jewish Cemetery 1400 Des Plaines Ave, Forest Park, IL 60130, Gate 47, Lot 137, Section D, Row 11, Grave 6. He is buried next to his first wife Lizzie Katz, though his grave is unmarked.

IN the October 2012 issue of Genii Magazine there is a fantastic article by David Ben about Max Malini, I encourage you to pick it up as it contains a wealth of new information on Malini.

IF you have a photo of the grave you'd be willing to share, please email me at

Monday, September 3, 2012

Adelaide Herrmann - Grave

photo courtesy of Richie Magic & Barbara Nista

The Queen of Magic, Adelaide Herrmann was the wife/widow of Alexander Herrmann. After her husband died on a train in 1896, Adelaide decided to carry on the show. First, she sent for her nephew Leon Herrmann from Europe to fill in for Alexander. This partnership only lasted a short time and then Adelaide created a solo act of her own.

In 1926, a fire in a NYC Warehouse destroyed most of the props from the Herrmann show, but with the help of other professional magicians like Harry Houdini and Harry Blackstone, Adelaide began to rebuild.

She passed away Feb 19, 1932. She had been writing her memoirs at the time but never finished them. An attempt was made to publish the memoirs after her death but the Great Depression prevented that from happening. Then in 2011, Margaret Steele had the good fortune to locate and acquire the manuscript and she later published a very wonderful version of Adelaide Herrmann's Memoirs.

Adelaide is buried next to her husband Alexander in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx NY in the Oak Hill section.