Showing posts with label Dot Robinson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dot Robinson. Show all posts

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Grave of Olive Dot Robinson, Wife of Chung Ling Soo

Dot Robinson being floated by Harry Kellar
When it comes to one of the greatest magician's assistants in history, surely one of the early ones was also one of the best. Olive Robinson was the wife of William E. Robinson. She was born Olive Path and had been with William Robinson since the very beginning of his career. For a time she worked as Harry Kellar's chief assistant in his show. Her husband was stage manager, illusion designer, and even performed his Black Art Act in the show. Olive, or Dot as she was known because of her small size, presented The Cocoon Illusion in Harry Kellar's show. She also was featured in an amazing levitation that was co-created by her husband and several other magicians, the effect was known as Astarte.

Later, when the Robinson's were wooed away by Alexander Herrmann, she became an assistant in his show. Astarte was performed in Herrmann's show also, but it was retitled The Maid of the Moon, and again featured Dot Robinson.

Finally, when William Robinson decided to go out on his own, he presented a show as an Asian character named Chung Ling Soo. His wife Dot was renamed, Suee Seen, and became the chief assistant in her husband's show. So Dot Robinson got to perform with three of the most iconic magicians of their era.

After the tragic death of her husband, who was shot on stage at the Wood Green Empire Theatre in 1918, Dot Robinson quietly fades into the background. The book The Glorious Deception by Jim Steinmeyer, suggests that Dot had become embarrassed by the scandal and controversy involving her husbands death. In 1921, she leaves London without informing her friends there and relocates to New York. She moves not far from many well known magicians, including Houdini. But she never let anyone in America know of her move either. She remained in seclusion throughout the rest of her life. In 1933, Dot Robinson was diagnosed with cancer. She died the following year at the age of 71. Olive 'Dot' Robinson was buried in the Bronx in Woodlawn Cemetery in an unmarked grave. But that's not the end of the story.

In 2016, magic historian, Diego Domingo, started raising money to put a stone marketer on her grave. The dedication for the stone marker was Oct 24th, 2017. Olive Robinson is buried in the Robinson Family plot not far from Williams' brother, and apparently just down the path from one of her former employers Alexander Herrmann. And today she has a proper gravestone.
Photo courtesy Diego Domingo

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dot Robinson, Wife of Chung Ling Soo

Olive 'Dot' Robinson was the wife of William Ellsworth Robinson, known professionally as Chung Ling Soo. She was born Olive Path and had been with William Robinson since the very beginning of his career. She worked with him in his Black Art act. When he signed with Kellar, she was there and acted as assistant in the illusions. Later, when they switched over to work with Herrmann the Great, she continued on, performing the illusions as only she could. Her nickname was Dot, due to her small stature. And because of her size, it allowed for very deceptive illusions. Several sources, including Magic: A Pictorial History of Conjurers in the Theatre, mention that she was one of the greatest assistants to ever live. When William Robinson created the Chung Ling Soo character, he renamed his wife Suee Seen.

Her life was not all sunshine and roses however. Though everyone thought she was married to
Robinson, they actually did not marry until 1906.   Robinson had a reputation for being a womanizer and Dot overlooked it all those years. But after the marriage, his extramarital affairs strained their relationship.

In 1918, Chung Ling Soo/William Robinson was shot on stage of the Wood Green Empire Theatre in London while performing the Bullet Catching Illusion. He died as a result of his wound and was buried in London. Dot, remained in London until 1921 when she quietly returned to America. She moved to the Bronx and became a recluse, never again associating with her friends in the magic world.  She died November 13, 1934 from cancer.

Olive 'Dot' Robinson is buried in an unmarked grave in The Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.  Other notables in the magic world who are buried there include: Alexander and Adelaide Herrmann, Max Holden, and Black Hermann.

Fellow magic historian, Diego Domingo is now working to raise funds for a grave marker for Olive Robinson. I learned of this at this years Yankee Gathering, when Diego gave a brief talk about Olive and the unmarked grave. As you know, I am a believer in caring for these graves of our brethren, and have contributed to the fund and would like to give you an opportunity to as well, if you so choose.

If you would like to contribute to the fund Checks should be made out to:
Funds have been collected and a new gravestone is in place.