Posted 5 years ago
Thurston and Theo. Bamberg (Okito)
By Chris Berry
About 1908 Howard Thurston was on a roll. He had been endorsed as "Kellar's Successor" and at the time was the most famous magician in the United States. It was during that period that Theo. Bamberg — better known to magicians as Okito —was featured as a guest artist on the Thurston show.
As an interlude during the full-evening illusion show, Bamberg would perform his hand shadow act - a feature so significant that Thurston engaged the Strobridge Litho Company to executive this custom half-sheet. Today magic scholars remember Bamberg (Okito) as an accomplished magician and tremendous craftsman who designed and built magical props and illusions, but his successes on the stage were as a shadowgraphist. As a boy in his native Holland, Bamberg performed his hand shadow act for the nation's royal family and in 1908 Thurston brought Bamberg on not only as a featured act, but also as a technical advisor.
Bamberg would later return to vaudeville and European variety theatres as Okito the magician, topping the bills and earning enviable salaries. He died in Chicago in 1963. This paticular Thurston lithograph is extremely rare. It sold at auction in the spring of 2011 for $20,400 (a $17,000 hammer price plus a buyer's premium of $3400).
- Chris Berry