Illusion Builder to Fu-Manchu by Robert E. Olson, Morris Costumes

(c. 1986) (Submit Review) (Submit Update)

Details: Profusely illustrated with B&W photos, drawings, and diagrams (illustrator). This book has virtually nothing to do with the Chinese villain created in the early 20th Century novels of British author Sax Rohmer, instead referring to the parallel tradition of professional (European or American) magicians adopting Chinese garb and stage names to add an element of “Oriental Mystery” to their stage shows — in this case, sixth-generation magician David Bamberg (of the “Bamberg Magical Dynasty,”) who appeared as “Fu-Manchu” (“the greatest magician South America has ever seen”), and his friend, assistant, and illusion builder, Edmund Spreer, manufacturer of

  • Okito’s Sofa Illusion,
  • Amac’s Find the Lady,
  • the Crystal Casket containing Okito’s Floating Ball,
  • the Spreer Expanding Die,
  • and more.

The section describing how America’s theatrical agents in the 1930s made it impossible to present the entire evening of magic which had done so well in Mexico, Havana, and elsewhere — insisting that the show be cut down to a 58-minute intermission road show between film screenings at small-town movie theaters — four shows a day from noon to midnight, which meant the cast could never even leave the theater for a full meal, all for less money than they’d been making in Latin America — is either maddening or pathetic.

The Last of the Great Illusion Mechanics Many who saw the Fu-Manchu show acclaimed it as the best in the world. Now the genius of David Bamberg and his partner Edmund Spreer is detailed in this new book.

Study the showmanship of Edmund Spreer, CONTENTS who worked as chief assistant, performer, builder and idea man for his friend and confidant Fu-Manchu.

Travel through the pages of time and witness their progress from obscurity to world-wide fame. Journey with them on four continents and learn how they set box office records that have never been excelled in the magic world.

See the fantastic stage sets used to make this the greatest magical extravaganza of all time. More than 300 illustrations, 60 tricks and illusions. 40 large stage effects. Rare photographs, posters and line drawings.

We guarantee you’ll find this tribute to Edmund Spreer well worth the investment.

Contents (Chapters, from book ToC):

vii “Magic in Mexico” 
ix Foreword 
xi Introduction
xiii Acknowledgements

1 Chapter 1: Starting Out
5 Chapter 2: The Struggling Years 
11 Chapter 3: The First Show
23 Chapter 4: The Illusions 
81 Chapter 5: Okito Presents Fu Manchu 
107 Chapter 6: The Mexican Extravaganza
123 Chapter 7: Trouble In The USA
141 Chapter 8: Quarantine
157 Chapter 9: In The Movies
167 Chapter 10: Disagreement
173 Chapter 11: A New Departure
193 Chapter 12: Building Illusions
205 Chapter 13: Epilogue

215 Index

  • Publisher: Morris Costumes
  • Pages: 219
  • Location: Charlotte, NC, USA
  • Dimensions: 9″x11″
  • Date: 1986
  • Binding: hardbound

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Approx. Price: $35.00 (2003) ***

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