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Chung Ling-Soo
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    (April 2, 1861-March 23, 1918)
    Born in New York City, New York
    Birth name was William Ellsworth Campbell
    Changed his name to William Ellsworth Robinson and performed as 'Robinson, the Man of Mystery'
    Died onstage when his bullet catching trick went wrong and he was actually shot
    He started as an assistant to two different magicians, poaching each performer's tricks for the other.
    After failing to make much of an impression as Robinson, he went to Europe and claimed to be a Chinese magician.
    His name and act were both ripped off from an actual Chinese magician, Ching Ling-Foo.
    He abandoned his wife and child in America, bigamously married his assistant and had a mistress with yet another family.
    He signed letters 'Mystically Thine.'
    A coroner's inquest concluded his death was essentially an accident waiting to happen, as his repeated disassembly of the guns used for the trick caused a mechanical failure that allowed the bullets to actually fire.
    Claiming to be a Chinese magician who could not speak English and thus performed in silence was an inspired solution to his inability to master stage patter for his act.
    His rivalry with Ching Ling-Foo delighted London newspapers, which ran headlines like 'Did Foo Fool Soo?' and 'Can Soo Sue Foo?'
    He was the second highest-paid magician of his day, behind only Harry Houdini.
    After being shot, he spoke English in public for the first time in 19 years: 'My God, something's happened! Lower the curtain!'

Credit: C. Fishel

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