William Ellsworth Robinson
(New York City, NY: 2nd April 1861 - 24th March 1918)
Of Scottish-English parentage. As a youth apprenticed as a mechanic and metal worker. Turned pro magician in 1880 as "Robinson, the Man of Mystery", including a black-art act with assistant Olive Path whom he later (1906) married (his 2nd marriage after Bessie Smith). Stage manager to Harry Kellar c1887-1893. With A. Herrmann, 1893-96, as stage manager, chief mechanic, performer (as "Achmed Ben Ali"), and understudy.
During this early part of his career he made props and large apparatus for Patrizio, Balabrega, Powell, Kellar, A. Herrmann, and L. Herrmann.
Then on own again 1900-18 and world famous with his pseudo-Chinese stage act, initially in Paris in April 1900 as "Hop Sing Loo" (a failure) but then in London since May 1900 with great success as "Chung Ling Soo". Toured the Continent in 1901. In 1908 played Paris and Brussels. In 1909 toured Australia and New Zealand. In 1912 again played Paris. Began a world tour in 1917 that evidently got only as far as Bombay. In 1918 he was mortally wounded doing the Bullet Catch onstage at the Wood Green Empire Theatre in London, dying the next morning. Father of Hector Robinson.