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Long Tack Sam

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Long Tack Sam
BornLung Te Shan
September 16, 1884
Northern China
DiedAugust 7, 1961 (age 76)
Linz, Austria

Long Tack Sam (b.1884-d.1961) was a world renowned magician, acrobat, and Vaudeville performer born in Northern China.


Comedian George Burns called him "the greatest act in all of vaudeville." Orson Welles considered him one of his mentors. Long Tack Sam was friends with all the famous names of magic during his time, like Houdini, Malini, Leipzig, and Vernon.

His magnificently dressed troupe played major cities across the globe in the early 1900's. On his first visit to the U.S. his troupe became the opening act for the Marx Brothers at the Palace Theatre in NYC. In fact, his act had the honor of performing at the Palace on 7 different occasions, more than any act in the history of the Palace.

His troupe went by many names of the years, Ten Kwais Troupe, The Imperial Pekinese Troupe and then eventually just by his name Long Tack Sam. The group of artists included acrobats, jugglers, dancers and of course Sam and his magic and comedic antics. He was known to be a master mimic and could speak in different dialects and languages. His magic include the Linking Rings, Rice Bowls, Doll’s House Illusion and his most famous feat, the production of a large bowl of water with fish. What made Sam’s presentation unique is that he did an in-air somersault just prior to the production. This flip in the air made the trick more impossible in appearance but also extremely difficult to perform.

Long Tack Sam performed all over the globe, but his favorite place to perform was Australia. Some even thought he was part Australian, probably due to his ability to mimic the language. Sam married an Austrian woman and they had three children, Mina, Poldi and Bobbie. The two daughters were both members of his cast, known by their stage names Meena and Neesa. Bobbie never became a member of the company.

In 1922 he became a member of Houdini's Magicians Club. Sam came out of retirement in 1958 to M.C. a show for the S.A.M. at the Roxy Theatre in NYC. He spent his last years in Linz, Austria, the hometown of his bride Leopoldini (known as Poldi). Long Tack Sam died in 1961 at the age of 76. Poldi died one year later.[1]

Documentary film

The greatest source of historical information we have of the performer's life comes from a Canadian documentary The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam. Written, directed, researched and animated by Long Tack Sam's great-granddaughter Ann Marie Fleming, the story is an in-depth research of the man's life. Through six years of research and traveling the world to interview relatives, professional acrobats, and magic historians, Fleming uncovers many missing holes in the historical record of her great grandfather's life.

Graphic Novel

In September 2007, The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam - an Illustrated Memoir by Ann Marie Fleming was published by Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Publishing. The book expands on the information in the biographical film, and puts Long Tack Sam's life in a more historical context.


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