Chung Ling Soo

The World's Greatest Magician
Birth Name:
William Ellsworth Robinson
Birth Date:
April 16, 1861
Birth Place:
Westchester County, New York
Death Date:
March 24, 1918
Place of Death:
Passmore Edwards Cottage Hospital, London, England, UK
Cause of Death:
Accidental gunshot wound to the lung during his stage act
Cemetery Name:
East Sheen Cemetery
Claim to Fame:
Other Entertainers
At the beginning of the 20th century, audiences across Europe were wowed by a Chinese magician who drew on ancient Asian mysticism to perform illusions and contact the spirit realm. But he was, in fact, none of these things, as “Chung Ling Soo” was actually William Ellsworth Robinson, an American of Scottish ancestry who built a phony, racist Chinese persona and magic act based directly on that of another magician, Chung Ling Foo (who actually was Chinese). Yet audiences looked past the obvious identity theft as Chung Ling Soo was actually a great magician.

Fun Fact

William Robinson had adopted the persona of Chung Ling Soo so convincingly that only his wife and multiple girlfriends knew his real secret. It was only when, during his final performance at the Wood Green Empire Theatre in London, the final trick of the “bullet catching illusion” went horribly wrong and Soo was shot in the chest. It was only then that Chung Ling Soo broke character and spoke in perfect English, “Oh my God. Something’s happened. Lower the curtain.” These were the last words he ever spoke and died the next day.

Cemetery Information:

Final Resting Place:

East Sheen Cemetery

Sheen Road

Richmond, , TW10 5BJ

England, United Kingdom



Grave Location:

Section B, Grave 219/220/221

Grave Location Description

As you enter through the main gate on Sheen Road, drive past the cemetery office and the first section you see on the right is Section B. The angel monument is visible from the road.



Read More About Chung Ling Soo:

Videos Featuring Chung Ling Soo:

See More:

The Great Lafayette

popular name: The Great Lafayette

date_of_death: May 9, 1911

age: 40

cause_of_death: Theater fire

claim_to_fame: Other Entertainers

best_know_for: Sigmund Neuberger (aka The Great Lafayette) was a master illusionist and one of the most highly paid entertainers in the world in his era. Sadly, on May 9, 1911 a devastating fire broke out at the Empire Palace Theatre in Edinburgh, Scotland. Performing to a sell-out crowd when fire erupted on stage, with the fire safety curtain descending to the front of the stage and all the backstage exits locked to prevent freeloaders, all 3000 members of the audience escaped unharmed. However, those on stage and behind the scenes were less fortunate. The Great Lafayette perished along with 9 members of his troupe, his horse and his lion.

Harry Houdini

popular name: Harry Houdini

date_of_death: October 31, 1926

age: 52

cause_of_death: Peritonitis secondary to a ruptured appendix after a physical beating

claim_to_fame: Other Entertainers

best_know_for: Harry Houdini is most often remembered as an escape artist and a magician. He was also an actor, a pioneering aviator, an amateur historian, businessman and performance artist of such great success that his name will live in perpetuity.

Alexander Herrmann

popular name: Alexander Herrmann

date_of_death: December 17, 1896

age: 52

cause_of_death: Heart attack

claim_to_fame: Other Entertainers

best_know_for: Alexander Herrmann was a French magician, better known as Herrmann the Great. He was married to magician Adelaide Herrmann, known as the Queen of Magic. Together, Alexander ("Professor Herrmann" or "Herrmann the Great") and Adelaide entertained audiences with a variety of magic tricks, including escape tricks and the bullet catch trick. Adelaide was a key part of many illusions, performing as a levitating sleeper, a human cannonball, a bicycle rider who carried a girl on her shoulders, and a dancer who spectrally swirled in red silk like a pillar of fire. The Herrmanns toured the United States, Mexico, South America, and Europe.

Back to Top