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Tobias Leendert Bamberg

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Tobias "Theo" Leendert Bamberg (1875 – 1963) was a professional magician who performed under the name Okito.

The Bamberg Family

The Bamberg family of magicians started in 1760, in Leyden, Holland with Eliaser Bamberg, the first in a line of magicians evolving six consecutive generations.

  • Eliaser Bamberg (1760, - 1833)
  • David Leendert Bamberg (1786 - 1869)
  • Tobias Bamberg (1812 - 1870)
  • David Tobias Bamberg (1843 - 1914)
  • Theo "Okito" Bamberg (1875 - 1963)
  • David Theodore "Fu Manchu" Bamberg (1904 - 1974)

Eliaser Bamberg had one son David Leendert.

David Leendert had four children, two were actors and two magicians. One being Tobias.

Tobias had one son, David Tobias.

David Tobias had six sons. Three of them are magicians. Emile, who specializes in sleight of hand work for social parties; Edward, who presented various magical novelties in America, and Theo.

Theo had two sons (David born in 1904 and Donald, born in 1920) and a daughter (Dorothy). David, who first appeared on the stage in Russia, at the age of four, as a little Chinaman, having been produced from a cloth. After completing his education in America, he joined Julius Zancig, the world-famous telepathist and worked in partnership with him for a number of years, after which he left for England. In 1921, he returned to America and appeared in various magical acts. Finally, David went abroad in pursuance of success, and presented his original comedy shadowgraph act in Vienna, touring all of Europe with his act. Theo and David also worked together for a time.


Born in Holland July 15, 1875 .

His father was a court magician. His connection with the royal family gave him entree to the highest society of Holland.

As a young boy, Bamberg nearly drowned while ice skating. The accident left him almost completely deaf and as a result he performed entirely in pantomime.

In 1893, at the age of eighteen, Bamberg created his first Japanese-style act in Berlin. Unlike William Ellsworth Robinson who performed as Chung Ling Soo, Bamberg didn't make an attempt to hide his European identity.

He adopted the name of Okito, which in Japanese means magician or wonder worker. He managed to be fairly successful, and later enlarged his act by engaging a black-face comedian. The act was called "Okito & Polising."

In 1900, during an engagement at the Theatre des Folies Marigny in Paris, he became acquainted with a card manipulator, which grew into a warm friendship. This magician was Howard Thurston, who became one of America's fore most magicians.

After discontinuing the act with Polising, he returned to Holland and enlarged the act by adding three people and changing it to Chinese which offered a larger scope for elaborateness and superiority over Japanese. He retained the name of Okito, which had won him quite a reputation. After a successful tour throughout Europe, he finally scored his first great success in England in 1902. He appeared before the Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward VII) accompanied by the Shah of Persia and played every big theatre in London.

In 1903, he eloped with the theater manager's daughter. Shortly after, his new wife convinced him to change his name from "Tobias/Toby" to "Theodore/Theo". With his wife and brother, he returned to Holland where he remained playing consecutively until 1908, with the exception of the summer of 1907 when he went to the Dutch Strait Settlements with his father.

His tour of Europe embraced England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Russia, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and all the Balkans.

February 1904, his son David Bamberg (who would later perform as Fu Manchu) was born in England.

In 1908, Bamberg and his family moved to The United States of America. He received contracts for the Orpheum Circuit in America and arrived in New York in October of that year. He opened at St. Paul and toured the States from coast to coast.

In 1909 he opened the Bamberg Magic & Novelty Co. at 1193 Broadway, New York City. Unfortunately, he became entangled in an objectionable partnership, customers were being driven away, and when he found that the business was declining, he sold out.

He returned to performing presenting a novelty shadowgraph and magical act covering the best part of the United States and Canada.

Then he began a business creating specialty magic apparatus for professional magicians at his home in new home in New York.

In 1919, he ceased producing for others and began performing once more as a Chinese act. He left New York in June 1919 sailing for South America, where success was again instantaneous.

In February 1920 he returned to England and left again to tour Africa.

Again he returned to England, only to leave for India, Egypt, China, Siam and the Far East.

By this time, conditions in Europe were more settled, and he made sensational appearance in Germany, the land where he had his first engagement as a boy thirty years before.

In Berlin, he scored a tremendous success. He was the first successful magician to appear in Europe after the war, both financially and artistically. This is evidenced by the fact he played three return dates at the Winter Gardens and three at the Scala which is the largest theater in Berlin. After his first appearance at the Winter Gardens he was booked solid for three years in advance, and from November 1922 until 1925.

During his act at this time he had an enormous collection of real Chinese costumes, over eighty in all. He work for forty-five minutes on the stage, one trick following the other in rapid succession-all Chinese and oriental. He produced a monster bowl of water on a raised platform a foot and a half from the ground.

His skills both as a performer and designer/mechanic brought him to the attention of Howard Thurston. Thurston hired Bamberg to open the second half of his large stage show as well as take the position of Thurston's chief mechanic and designer.

Bamberg's skills were such that existing handmade props created by him are highly prized by collectors today.

He led the last years after many years of travel in a quiet life in Chicago. Died on 28 June 1963.

Originated a number of magic effects including the Okito Coin Box and the Vanishing Wand (using shells) 1887. He invented the vanishing wand trick at the age of 12 as a practical joke to fool his father.

Also invented Tray and Eight Glasses, Block Illusion, Okito Mat Production, Okito Duck Production, Okito Tea Canister Mystery, Multim In Parvo (not the liquid trick, but a box production by ther same name), Okito Floating Ball (after David Abbott), Okito's Bowl of Gobi, Okito Card Mystery, Okito Handkerchief Tray, Scare Mask and Cabinet, Break-Away Casket, Disappearing Bowl of Water, Ming Toy, The Mandarin's Dream, Oho!, Barehand Silk Production, Silks and Soup Plate, Okito Glass.

Wrote: (With Robert Parrish) Okito on Magic (1951)


  • # Randi, James (October 1993). Conjuring. St. Martin's Griffin, pp. 127-138. ISBN 0-312-09771-9.