Tobias Bamberg

Last updated

Okito performing the floating ball Mgm Okito poster 1910.jpg
Okito performing the floating ball

Tobias "Theo" Leendert Bamberg (1875–1963) was a professional magician. Born in the Netherlands, Bamberg performed under the name Okito which is an anagram of Tokio (Tokyo). His father had been court magician to King William III of the Netherlands, making Okito the sixth generation in a family of outstanding magicians known as the Bamberg Magical Dynasty. [1]

Contents

Early life

Bamberg was the son of Judic Simon Delden and David Tobias Bamberg. [2] His family were Dutch Jews. [3] As a young boy, Theo Bamberg nearly drowned while ice skating. The accident left him almost completely deaf and as a result, he performed entirely in pantomime. [4] As a young man, inspired by a performance of the great French magician, shadowist and mimic Felecien Trewey, Bamberg developed a shadowgraphy routine which he performed professionally, beginning in his early teens.

Early career

In 1893, Bamberg created his first Japanese-style act in Berlin at the age of eighteen. Success was virtually immediate, but he eventually abandoned the show to elope with the theater manager's daughter. Shortly after, his new wife convinced him to change his name from "Tobias/Toby" to "Theodore/Theo". When he returned to performing, Bamberg altered his Japanese act to become a Chinese-style act to better facilitate a new illusion he had designed. Unlike William Ellsworth Robinson who performed as Chung Ling Soo, Bamberg didn't make an attempt to hide his European identity. [4]

February 1907 brought the birth of his son David Bamberg (who would later perform under the Stage name Fu Manchu) in England. [1] Bamberg and his family eventually moved to The United States of America where, beginning in 1908, Okito worked as an off-stage assistant/advisor and on-stage feature in the shows of illusionist Howard Thurston. On the Thurston show, he was billed as "Europe's Greatest Shadowist." [5]

Later career

In 1909, through SAM, Bamberg had become friends with other notable magicians including Clement de Lion, Nate Leipzig, and many others. Frustrated with his lack of success, Theo sold his Okito act to a Brooklyn magician and plumbing contractor, W.J. "Doc" Nixon. It was in that year that Bamberg opened, with partner Joe Klein, the Bamberg Magic & Novelty Co. in New York City. The company was the primary representative of the German firm of Carl Willmann. While minding the store and toying with a pillbox, Bamberg invented his famous Okito box used to perform coin magic. [6] Eventually, Bamberg returned to the road (playing vaudeville and variety theatres), selling his interest in the shop to Klein. Bamberg's skills were such that existing handmade props created by Bamberg are highly prized by collectors today. [5] Many of Okito's props were described by Robert Albo in his Classic Magic with Apparatus and The Ultimate Okito series. [7]

Eventually, Doc Nixon gave Theo the "Okito" title back. Discarding the old act, Okito built many larger effects that would make him into a legend. When he returned to Europe, success finally found him. He traveled the world working large prestigious contracts. He was reunited with his son David and made him his assistant like his father did and his father's father as well.

Following a South American and European tour in 1932, Theo decided to settle down and he returned to the Netherlands. [1] Meanwhile, David had established himself in South America and persuaded his father to come and visit him. Okito did so just as the Nazis invaded Belgium and the Netherlands. As a result, all of his possessions were either confiscated or destroyed. [1] Theo Bamberg, known as Okito and frequently billed on posters as The Mystic ended his last years in Chicago where he won the friendship, respect and admiration of everyone interested in magic. [1] and died in 1963.

Squash Publishing is scheduled to release an anthology of selected Okito tricks, illusions, reminiscences and his never-before-published hand shadow routine. [8]

Works

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Copperfield (illusionist)</span> American magician (born 1956)

David Seth Kotkin, known professionally as David Copperfield, is an American magician, described by Forbes as the most commercially successful magician in history.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harry Blackstone Jr.</span> American magician (1934–1997)

Harry Bouton Blackstone Jr. was an American stage magician, author, and television performer. He is estimated to have pulled 80,000 rabbits from his sleeves and hats.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sawing a woman in half</span> Stage magic trick

Sawing a woman in half is a generic name for a number of stage magic tricks in which a person is apparently cut or divided into two or more pieces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Howard Thurston</span> American magician

Howard Thurston was a stage magician from Columbus, Ohio, United States. As a child, he ran away to join the circus, where his future partner Harry Kellar also performed. Thurston was deeply impressed after he attended magician Alexander Herrmann's magic show and was determined to equal his work. He eventually became the most famous magician of his time. Thurston's traveling magic show was the biggest one of all; it was so large that it needed eight train cars to transport his road show.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Street magic</span> Genre of magic performance

Street magic falls into two genres; traditional street performance and guerrilla magic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Buatier De Kolta</span>

Buatier de Kolta was a French magician who performed throughout the latter part of the 1800s in Europe and America.

Norm Nielsen was an American magician and business owner. Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Nielsen was known for his original musical act.

A magician's assistant is a performer in a magic act who is not billed as the magician or principal name in the act.

<i>Carter Beats the Devil</i> Historical mystery thriller novel by Glen David Gold

Carter Beats The Devil is a historical mystery thriller novel by Glen David Gold centred on the American stage magician Charles Joseph Carter (1874–1936).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Julius and Agnes Zancig</span> Stage magicians and authors on occultism

Julius and Agnes Zancig were stage magicians and authors on occultism who performed a spectacularly successful two-person mentalism act during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Julius Zancig (1857–1929) – born Julius Jörgensen in Copenhagen, Denmark – and his wife Agnes Claussen Jörgensen – also born in Copenhagen, and known as Agnes Zancig – were the originators of the routine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Close-up magic</span> Magic performed in an intimate setting

Close-up magic is magic performed in an intimate setting usually no more than 3 meters from one's audience and is usually performed while sitting at a table.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jack Gwynne</span>

Jack Gwynne was an American illusionist, actor and creator of magic effects.

The Bamberg Magical Dynasty were a Dutch family of magicians, consisting of six generations of Bambergs. The Bambergs were an upper middle-class unorthodox Jewish family. Three Bambergs were court magicians who entertained the Dutch royal family, and many of the Bambergs were also trained actors. This chain was unbroken for 165 years, from the 18th to the 20th centuries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Bamberg</span>

David Tobias "Theodore" Bamberg was an itinerant magician who traveled with his full evening magic show from the early to mid part of the 20th century. In Bamberg's autobiography, Robert Parrish wrote in the introduction that no other great illusionist could match Bamberg's skill. The Fu Manchu show was known for its comedy, drama, and color.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magic (illusion)</span> Performing art involving the use of illusion

Magic, which encompasses the subgenres of illusion, stage magic, and close-up magic, among others, is a performing art in which audiences are entertained by tricks, effects, or illusions of seemingly impossible feats, using natural means. It is to be distinguished from paranormal magic which are effects claimed to be created through supernatural means. It is one of the oldest performing arts in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shadowgraphy (performing art)</span> Performance art utilizing light and shadow

Shadowgraphy or ombromanie is the art of performing a story or show using images made by hand shadows. It can be called "cinema in silhouette". Performers are titled as a shadowgraphist or shadowgrapher.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">H. J. Burlingame</span> American magician and magic historian

Hardin Jasper Burlingame (1852–1915) was an American magician and magic historian.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gerald Heaney (magician)</span>

Gerald Vincent Heaney was a stage magician and magic supplier from Berlin, Wisconsin, United States. "Heaney the Great" and his magic show toured North America for a number of years during the mid 1900s.

Robert James Albo was an American physician, surgeon and amateur illusionist. He was for 40 years team physician for the Golden State Warriors as well as the Oakland Raiders. At one point he held the largest private magic collection in the world.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 George B. Anderson (1972). "The Collector: OKITO" . Magic Digest: Fun Magic for Everyone. Follet Publishing Company. pp.  265. ISBN   978-0-695-80339-1.
  2. Collateral Families [ dead link ]
  3. Annual report ochjs.ac.uk
  4. 1 2 Albo, Robert J.; Lewis, Eric C.; Bamberg, David (1973). The Oriental Magic of the Bambergs. San Francisco: San Francisco Book Co. ISBN   978-0913374030.
  5. 1 2 Albo, Robert J. (February 2007). "Okito and the Bamberg Dynasty". Magic Magazine. Vol. 16, no. 6. pp. 62–67.
  6. Bobo, J.B: Okito coin box, page 217. Dover, 1982.
  7. Walker, Byron (February 2011). "Dr. Robert J. Albo" . Linking Ring. Vol. 91, no. 2. pp. 24–27.
  8. Squash Publishing: About. Accessed February 16, 2020.

Further reading