Chung Ling Soo was a stage magician who performed in Europe in the early 20th century who was in fact an American man named William Ellsworth Robinson who created the persona of a Chinese man. To add to the allure of this mysterious character, he never spoke onstage and used an interpreter when speaking to journalists. His most famous illusion was a bullet catch that he called “Condemned to Death by the Boxers” in which Soo’s attendants fired a gun at him, with the bullet being caught either in his mouth or out of the air and then dropped on a plate. Tragically, Soo was killed performing the trick when a real bullet was mistakenly discharged from a decoy barrel. A magician in the film The Prestige, who pretends to be an elderly, crippled Chinese man, is inspired by Soo.
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