William l. Lindhorst by Roger Edgar Linden
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii May, 1997)
"Will Lindhorst was St. Louis's best-known magician from the early part of this century
until [his death in] 1954." So begins this modest little monograph on the life and times
of the original Chandu. Lindhorst used the now-famous stage name on the charter of
Assembly Number Eight of the S.A.M. in 1921, and so apparently was the first to adopt
the moniker that would later appear in radio and film, the latter with portrayals by
Edmund Lowe and Bela Lugosi. In 1931, Lindhorst also began to make extensive
personal appearances as Chandu the Magician on behalf of White King Soap, by which
he continued to promote himself throughout much of his life.
Lindhorst worked for Howard Thurston as an assistant in 1910, 1911 and 1912, an
experience which no doubt served him well throughout a lifetime in magic. He wrote
several small books of magic for the public, some of which sold exceedingly well, and in
which he often exposed significant professional methods. Mr. Linden includes the text
of a letter from John Northern Hilliard commending Mr. Lindhorst's first book, A Bag
of Magic Tricks, released in 1931, consisting of a series of articles contributed to the St.
Louis Star Times the previous year. In 1925, Lindhorst opened his first magic shop in St.
Louis. Although in interim years he operated a magic business out of his home, he
eventually opened the Lindhorst Magic Den in 1944, and from then until the end of his
life, the store and performances became his entire source of income. After Lindhorst's
death, the shop was purchased by Gene Devoe, who carried on the great tradition of this
highly regarded St. Louis shop for many years thereafter.
The author worked for Lindhorst in the shop from 1946 until 1949 and again during
Lindhorst's illness in 1954, and knew him well until the end of his life. The material in this monograph is drawn from Lindhorst's own scrapbook, along with the author's
personal recollections. The production values are minimal, and it would have been
exceedingly preferable (and not terribly difficult) to make certain that the press
clippings and photographs had been far better reproduced, but nonetheless this a
valuable slice of magic history, and the author has done us some service in assuring that
the original Chandu retains his place in the pantheon of magic.