London was shocked when Chung Ling Soo, “the marvelous Chinese conjurer,” died onstage in a magic trick gone wrong in 1918. Perhaps even more shocking was the truth about who he really was.
Magician Dai Vernon chased down gamblers and cardsharps to learn their techniques. So when he heard about a man who could perform a once-thought impossible card sleight, he set out on a quest through the seedy underworld of Kansas City to find him.
In 1770, inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen debuted his latest creation before the court of Maria Theresa of Austria. His chess playing automaton caused a stir when it appeared to not only move on its own, but also match wits against skilled chess players. Even though it was all an illusion, its effects were profound, far reaching, and long lasting.
Illusion is a bi-weekly podcast that explores the many forms of illusion that we experience, through true stories about magicians, grifters, makers, and visionaries. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and join host Brian Earl for true stories of impossible things, and the people behind them.
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