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The Superb Lengthy Tack Sam



Lengthy Tack Sam was born September 16, 1884 in Northern China. He was born the son of an Imperial Officer within the service of the Emperor (1).

There are conflicting studies of his childhood, so it is onerous to know which one is true. One model of the story has a younger Sam apprenticing with a Chinese language Magician named Wang for six years. After that time frame, Sam had realized two tips, the Linking Rings and the Rice Bowls. He left there and went out to work as a magician in Shanghai the place we ultimately joined one other performing troupe. One other model of his earlier years has Sam being skilled in acrobatic methods by his brother and Sam ultimately operating away from dwelling.

Regardless of the case, he ultimately left China working with a western circus. In time he would turn out to be a part of The Tan Kwai Troupe and Sam turned the director. Later the title would change to ‘The Royal Pekinese Troupe’ however that title was problematic as a result of bookers thought it was a ‘canine act.’ The title of the present would change a number of occasions till he lastly determined to make use of Lengthy Tack Sam. Apparently his actual title was Lung Te Shan or presumably Lu Te Shen. However he selected Lengthy Tack Sam as his stage title & for his troupe.

His performing troupe was made up of acrobats, jugglers, dancers and he did the magic and likewise comedy. By all accounts he was a wonderful impressionist and mimic and will apparently copy the dialects of many languages together with: Yiddish, French, Italian, German, American, Australian and doubtless extra.

The magic that Sam included within the present consisted of the Burnt & Restored Turban, the Linking Rings, The Needle Swallowing Feat and Rice Bowls. However his stand out trick was one which different ‘asian acts’ had introduced, however not within the dramatic vogue that Sam did. This description is from MAGIC: A Pictorial Historical past of Conjurers within the Theatre by David Worth, “Lengthy launched his superb bowl manufacturing. The trick was carried out as a part of a flip, generally known as a somersault within the air, and was carried out with out touching the palms to the ground. After the flip, he had the bowl of water with fish in his palms”.

Nonetheless, a newspaper from the occasions describes the act as this, “As an alternative of constructing a head-roll over earlier than exhibiting the bowl, Lengthy Tack Sam did a hand-spring, which makes and causes the trick to seem like way more tough.” So maybe Sam had a number of methods of presenting the trick, however all included some feat of acrobatics simply previous to the manufacturing the bowl and it was extra dramatic than anybody else who was presenting a bowl manufacturing which is why his stood out above all others.

This bowl manufacturing trick was the creation of one other Chinese language Magician and actually the primary one on the scene, Ching Ling Foo. However different magicians copied the act, some utilizing a stack of bowls as a substitute of 1 massive bowl. Nobody nevertheless did what Sam did.

Once more from the guide MAGIC by David Worth we discover this: “Within the Lengthy Tack Sam present, every trick, magical or in any other case, was preceded by the sounding of a gong. Within the bowl manufacturing, six acrobats would carry out the flip when the gong was sounded. The Lengthy Tack Sam carried out the flip alone, on the conclusion of which it was seen that he was holding a big fishbowl with reside goldfish swimming about.”

Houdini invited Lengthy Tack Sam to be a member of the Magician’s Membership in England. Houdini was President and I consider Will Goldston was Vice President. Someday later upon his return to the US. Houdini apparently patented or copyrighted the Needle Trick, thus stopping everybody else from performing it. 

The Needle Trick had been a staple of Lengthy Tack Sam’s present for years, even earlier than he knew Houdini, and now he was restricted from performing it. (2)  

There's a enjoyable story from the biography of David Bamberg, ILLUSION SHOW. He tells a narrative of a Chinese language man coming as much as him after his present. The person first asks if he speaks English? After which he goes on to say that a number of the fabric within the present seems to be copies of the tips of the famed OKITO. Then he says, even your colourful banner, which has your title however OKITOS face….He says that although you might be very gifted, that is the flawed strategy. And David Bamberg replies that he agrees for probably the most half, besides the banner was a present from OKITO and as for the tips, his father gave him permission to make use of them. Lengthy Tack Sam, seeming considerably confused says, “Your father?”. And David says, “Sure, I'm David Bamberg and OKITO is my father” And the 2 males have a hardy giggle. What I like in regards to the story is the ending. The 2 males, after correct introductions, talked magic and magicians after which Sam noticed David’s Linking Rings. He requested to borrow them after which proceeded to point out David Bamberg probably the most unbelievable routine with the Linking Rings. He was shocked!

On Sam's first go to to the U.S. his troupe received to open for the Marx Brothers on the Palace Theatre in NYC. Previous to coming to America, Sam had married a lady named Leapoldi or Poldi, from Austria. And he would quickly begin a household. As WW1 broke out throughout Europe, it made journey to Austria unimaginable. It additionally made it unimaginable for his spouse and daughters to come back to America.

Sam had two daughters, Mina and Nepoldini, who ultimately turn out to be a part of his act within the later years. They glided by the stage names Meena and Neesa. Neesa had a particular present of taking part in the violin that was integrated into the present. Daughter Meena danced within the present and assisted Sam throughout his presentation of the Doll's Home Phantasm the place she magically seems from a tiny Doll's Home. In 1932, Sam and his daughters carried out on the now well-known Grauman's Chinese language Theatre in Hollywood California.

It’s stated that in his profession Sam would open financial institution accounts in a bunch of various international locations. He figured, if one thing horrible occurred anyplace on the planet, he would have ample funds to hold on. (3)

Sam apparently had a favourite story he would share a few piece of property he owned in Shanghai. It was a theater, and sooner or later he was standing in entrance of the theater when a Soldier appeared out of no the place. The soldier requested Sam, “WHERE IS THE OWNER?”  Sam informed him, “UPSTAIRS!”. Because the soldier went upstairs to seek out the proprietor, Sam ran in the wrong way and fled the nation abandoning his property. (4)


Lengthy Tack Sam and his troupe have been extraordinarily profitable and fairly common in America, Australia and China. Sam even invested in theatre property in China and two eating places in London. Finally, as age creeped up and life on the street received to be an excessive amount of, Lengthy Tack Sam retired from present enterprise. The primary time he was coaxed out of retirement was in 1940 when he carried out on the Majestic Theater in Shanghai. Was this the theater he left behind throughout the earlier Japanese Invasion? We have no idea.  He was talked into popping out of retirement by Herman Hanson in 1952 to seem on the Society of American Magicians Conference in Boston. He was on the invoice with Frances Eire, Silent Mora, Dr, Jaks, Jay Marshall and extra. . He carried out his fish bowl manufacturing and gave a lecture on the convention as nicely. Silent Mora was current at that lecture and stated that he was much more astounding throughout his lecture than his Friday evening efficiency. And it ought to be famous his Friday evening efficiency introduced the home down! (5)

And some years later in 1958 he did return to the stage for one final profit present for the Society of American Magicians in NYC. Sam was the Masters of Ceramonies, he was 73 on the time. Just a few years later, Sam and Poldi have been in a automobile accident. They moved again to Austria to relaxation and heal. However relatively than heal, Sam had extra well being points. He died in Linz Austria on August 7, 1961. He and Poldi are each buried there in Linz.

Simply to place Lengthy Tack Sam into perspective, Orsen Welles thought-about Sam certainly one of his mentors. Sam was pals with Dai Vernon, Max Malini, Nate Leipsig, Silent Mora, Houdini and mainly all the favored magicians of his time. The legendary comic George Burns stated of Lengthy Tack Sam, “The Biggest Vaudeville Act I would ever seen.”

On the DVD ‘The Higher Magic Video Library Quantity 29 with Charlie Miller and Johnny Thompson’, Charlie Miller demonstrates the Chinese language model of the Cups and Balls that he realized from Lengthy Tack Sam himself. One of many strikes seems to be the precise transfer that makes up one of many key components to the Roy Benson, Benson Bowl Routine.

Lastly, the DVD documentary The Magical Lifetime of Lengthy Tack Sam is a should watch. It is produced, directed, narrated

and stars his nice granddaughter Ann Marie Fleming. It's so wealthy with magic historical past and but tells an exquisite story of her household ancestry and incorporates some components which might be coronary heart breaking and a few very joyous moments as nicely. It is superb that Ms. Fleming made the documentary when she did as a result of the entire magic folks interviewed within the movie: John Sales space, Elaine Lund, Jay Marshall and Jackie Flosso are all now gone.

I've seen the documentary quite a few occasions and revel in each viewing. I solely want there have been extra documentaries like this on our brothers and sisters within the magic world. We owe an enormous thanks to Ms. Ann Marie Fleming for the great job she did to carry her Nice Grandfathers story again to the plenty the place it belongs.

BTW, Ann Marie mentions one thing within the documentary that I'm conversant in. She ponders the notion of why his household had forgotten about him, why he was forgotten by the general public, whether or not it was a cultural factor, or what precisely it was. I can’t reply the WHY, however I can let you know the very same factor occurred in my circle of relatives. My mother and father knew nothing about their nice grandparents, nothing was ever stated. It was an enormous thriller. After which I started to analysis the ancestry and located there was an enormous facet of my household that nobody knew existed! It’s as if households simply transfer on, reside THEIR lives and don’t look a lot on the previous. I believe it was seemingly the identical with Sam and his descendants. Then it takes somebody keen to dig, to find what mysteries have been left behind.

For these serious about seeing the documentary, I'll put a hyperlink within the podcast Episode description.

To listen to the podcast

HOW to see the movie

  1. Magic – A Pictorial Historical past of Conjuring within the Theatre by David Worth pg 529

2.   The Magical Lifetime of Lengthy Tack Sam Documentary by Ann Marie Fleming

3.   The Illustrated Historical past of Magic by Milbourne Christopher

4.   Magic by David Worth

5.   Silent Mora by William Rauscher

Elements of this text appeared in a earlier weblog submit from 2012. 



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