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Ching Ling Foo

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Ching Ling Foo
BornChee Ling Qua
March 11, 1854
Yang Tsnann, China
Diedcirca 1922 (age 68)

Ching Ling Foo (March 11, 1854 - c.1922), born Chee Ling Qua in a suburb of Peking, was one of the first oriental magicians to achieve international fame.[1]


A son of Prince Ching, who witnessed one of Foo's exhibitions, was so mystified and delighted with it that he induced his father to appoint Ching Ling Foo as the Court Conjurer to the Empress of China.

He was noted for his production of large bowls of water, followed by a bowl of fire, pigeons, ducks and even small children, all from a shawl.

Ching Ling Foo was the president of the Colon Cinema Company of Tien Tsin and owned several movie theaters in China.

He did a very successful tour of the United States in 1898 after a bit of trouble with the law. In April of 1899 his troupe were discharged from custody of the United States authorities by a United States District Judge, who determined that because he was an actor and not a laborer, that the alien labor law does not apply. The troupe had originally entered the country under the provisions of a special act of Congress admitting laborers and others for the purpose of participating in the construction and operations of exhibits at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha. He also toured with Harry Kellar who pronounced him to be a conjurer of the first order.

His torn and restored ribbon was described in David Abbott's "Book of Mysteries". He may have been the inventor of the Foo Can.


While Ching Ling Foo was in New York for publicity, he offered a reward of $1,000 to anyone who could produce a bowl full of water like he did. He never meant to actually hold a contest, but American magician William Robinson didn't know that. Ching Ling Foo refused to let William Robinson try for the $1,000 reward, Robinson went on to recreated himself as the magician Chung Ling Soo.

In January of 1905, both Ching Ling Foo and Chung Ling Soo were performing in London claiming to be "The Original Chinese Conjurer." Ching Ling Foo sent out a challenge which read: "I offer £1,000 if Chung Ling Soo, now appearing at the Hippodrome, can do ten out of my twenty tricks, or if I fail to do any one of his feats."

Each magician called the other names in the press, claiming his rival was lying and an impostor. When a date was finally set for the competition, Chung Ling Soo was there at the appointed time, but Ching Ling Foo never arrived.[2][3]


There have been some conflicting dates for the year of his death. See Discussion Tab above for information on research.


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