K. T. Kuma

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby MitsuMatsu » 05/06/05 06:56 AM

Does anyone know biography of K. T. Kuma a.k.a. Kim Yen Soo?

Since his life has not been clarified enough, I would like to appreciate his life properly.
If I can find his passport issuance record at the time of leaving Japan, I could examine his wife and birth origin; however I still don't know the exact timing of his departure from Tokyo that allow me to investigate the record.

If someone gives me any info on Kuma's life, it would be appreciated very much.

Mitsu Matsu
MitsuMatsu
 
Posts: 82
Joined: 02/11/08 01:00 PM
Location: Yokohama, Japan

Postby Allen Tipton » 05/08/05 08:44 AM

Mitsu Matsu. Re J T Kuma. he was born in Seoul, Korea on 4th. Feb. 1884. Died on 27th. March 1963.
Full name is Kinjiro Tanko Kumjaro. Though born in Korea, he was Japanese. During World War 2 he claimed he was Kim Yen'Soo.He began magic at the age of 5 as an apprentice to a Japanese magician.
Became a professional and first performed in this capacity in 1892. Moved to the USA in 1904. Invented the Kuma Tubes. Any other information I have I will e mail to you.
Sayonara. best Wishes.
Allen Tipton
Allen Tipton
 
Posts: 107
Joined: 07/20/08 08:42 AM

Postby Max Maven » 05/08/05 03:04 PM

Although the trick is called the Kuma Tubes in the west (because Kuma may well have been the first to perform it outside of Asia), the trick itself is several hundred years old, of Chinese origin.
Max Maven
 
Posts: 349
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Hollywood, CA

Postby Guest » 05/08/05 04:22 PM

The Kuma Tubes (but not under that name) are nicely decribed in Okito's book, Quality Magic, published by Goldston in 1921. It may have well been taken from Kuma's act, but there's no origin indicated in this book.

Vic Torsberg, who I knew from Chicago. was a great admirer of Kuma's act, and described it to me. He used to finish with the Kuma Tubes. Through the act, he wore a grey "morning suit" with striped trousers, a dark grey cut tail coat and light grey vest -- not an Oriental costume. He produces silks from the tube, and then a large vase of water. At the finale, two cords were lowered from the flies of of the theatre and Kuma attached the ends of these lines to two bits of silk projecting from the tube. He claped his hands. The cords were pulled taut and instantly a gigantic American flag was pulled from the tubes.

The flag appeared downstage of Kuma, so he was momentarily obscured. As he stepped around the side of the flag for his bow, seconds later, the audience saw that he was dressed in a white suit and trousers and was carring a white straw hat.

It was one of the first "quick change" finales to an act. Vic worked as a stage manager with him, and described him breaking away the costume just as the flag appeared.

I presume that earlier in Kuma's career, it may have been more attractive or exotic to appear in an oriental costume, but later in vaudeville, circa 1930, this was the finale of his act, according to Vic.

Good luck with your research. Kuma is certainly an interesting subject.
Guest
 

Postby MitsuMatsu » 05/08/05 09:46 PM

Thank you for all the comments you gave me.
According to Tenkai Ishida's autobiography (Tenkai was a Kuma's close friend), K. T. Kumar told him that he first joined a certain Japanese circus troupe when it visited to perform in Korea, not becoming an apprentice of Japanese magician. After he married with a Japanese, he left the circus and learnt some magic, and then went to England where a large Japanese exhibition or some kind of world fair was held, sent by a event promoter, along with other several dozen performing artists. After that, he went to USA, not like most other performers who returned to Japan.
Some reference says that he moved to USA in 1904. This is possible, however I wonder if this is true.

From the context and some other years referred in Tenkai's note, I think Kuma performed at the Japan-British Exhibition 1910 held at White City in Shepherds Bush, because no other major exhibition regarding Japan was held around the years. So I assume he went to USA (California) in 1911 after the exhibition. However at this moment I have never found his name in a list of passport issuance record for the dispatched performers for the exhibition.

So, could I ask another question to UK friends whether there was another big fair in England where many Japanese artists were sent from their home country around 1903?

In addition, his Japanese name, Kinjiro Tanaka Kumajo, sounds quite strange for me because no Japanese has any middle name in it. That is one of my reasons to look for his registry. I should explore further.
Thanks again for your cooperative advice. I really appreciate it.
MitsuMatsu
 
Posts: 82
Joined: 02/11/08 01:00 PM
Location: Yokohama, Japan

Postby Guest » 10/20/05 09:39 AM

Hi and thanks,

I'm doing some research on Bela Lugosi's live appearances made with Kim Yen Soo, which seem to have occurred in the late 1940s. Could anyone be of help with this?

Thanks,
Gary Rhodes
Guest
 

Postby Pete Biro » 10/20/05 10:12 AM

A "little" off topic, I used to see Johnny Platt do the Kuma Tubes and the kicker was the giant bowl of water produced would NOT fit back into the tube at the end.

I still remember Tenkai and Okino's finish with the cords coming down and lifting to produce a stage-filling multi colored silk.

Where it came from was so cool... it was litarally like a parachute on Okinu's back... and looked OK as many women in that kind of wardrobe had this kind of item on their backs... it just looked like a part of that style wardrobe.
Stay tooned.
User avatar
Pete Biro
 
Posts: 7124
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Hollyweird

Postby Guest » 10/20/05 11:05 AM

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
A "little" off topic, I used to see Johnny Platt do the Kuma Tubes and the kicker was the giant bowl of water produced would NOT fit back into the tube at the end.

.
Hi Pete!

I have a photo of Johnny from his "Castle Days". He gave it to me during a trip to SF, where he was looking at a set of "Kuma Tubes" that we had for sale. Buma, knowing it was a signature trick for Johnny, offered them to him before he would show anyone else, out of courtesy.

You are right, the surprise, after the bowl production, was that the bowl was TOO BIG for the tubes. I think in all the years I worked for Buma, (remember, we specialized in hard-to-find props and magic), that I only handled two sets of "Kuma Tubes", and Johnny was the ONLY guy I recall using them regularly. I THINK Don Budge(spelling?) did the trick for a while, and I know we sold a set to Bob Albo, but that's it. An uncommon effect, to be sure...

Best, PSC
Guest
 

Postby Guest » 10/20/05 11:28 AM

De Yip Loo from Chicago used to do the Kuma Tubes as well. He still resides in the Chicago area.

Best Regards,
Chuck Romano
Guest
 

Postby MitsuMatsu » 10/23/05 05:47 PM

I tried to investigate his life thoroughly as much as possible, but unfortunately I still don't have any evidence to prove his real name, some important dates (move to Japan, England, USA), his wife's name, family photo and registry info as well as his cemetery.

Although I identified his last residence at his death (341 W. 45th St., New York City), I was rejected to obtain his death certificate at New York Health Department because I am not eligible. Alas!
I wonder how I can get those vital records.

MitsuMatsu
MitsuMatsu
 
Posts: 82
Joined: 02/11/08 01:00 PM
Location: Yokohama, Japan

Postby Timothy Hyde » 10/31/05 12:35 AM

I love the Kuma Tubes. Must have performed it hundreds if not thousands of times in cabaret & stage performances. It's the one effect I really miss performing now I perform mostly mentalism.

It's actualy a very "commercial routine" and I'm surprised more people do not use it. Our routine included multiple extra loads and with the large initial load it is perfect for "theming" at product events. Perfume, Jewellry, Software, Toys etc and for one memorable event - explosives and detonators.

There is only one drawback with the effect though, as I used to explain. When you pack to go to the show, you can just throw the small bag with the 2 tubes on the back seat of the car. When you pack up at the end of the show, there's all this extra c**p everywhere that you have to find somewhere to put.

Timothy Hyde


Was thinking of writing up our routine one day. Is it a full description in the Okito book or just a description of the prop construction?.
The Secret Notebooks of Mr Hyde - Vol 1 & 2 - http://www.MagicCoach.com
User avatar
Timothy Hyde
 
Posts: 169
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Australasia

Postby Guest » 10/31/05 08:35 AM

Timothy and Lynda's routine is outstanding.
Guest
 

Postby Timothy Hyde » 10/31/05 04:27 PM

Thanks Buster.

The props we used belonged to Emil Schaller. He made them himself. Better know as Oliver. He was born in Hungary in 1901 and worked extensively in circus early in his career.

We purchased them from his daughter, who gave us a quick lesson, mainly on the initial packing, but the routine just slowly evolved. Sure helps with a partner, though I have seen a couple of great solo performances.

Oliver worked this all over the world, including extensive work in the big touring South American circus shows. I wish I'd seen him do it.

The first time I saw it performed was in New Zealand in the '70s. There was a Chinese troop that was based in Hong Kong, that came out for a tourism promotion. The guy produced a second identical vase at the end. Unbelievable. What we Australians would descibe as a bold "Ned Kelly" move.

Timothy
The Secret Notebooks of Mr Hyde - Vol 1 & 2 - http://www.MagicCoach.com
User avatar
Timothy Hyde
 
Posts: 169
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Australasia


Return to Magic History and Anecdotes