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East Indian Rope Trick: Thurston the Famous Magician

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The Indian rope trick is stage magic said to have been performed in and around India during the 19th century. Sometimes described as "the world’s greatest illusion", it reputedly involved a magician, a length of rope, and one or more boy assistants. In the simplest version, a long piece of rope would be left in a basket and placed in an open field, usually by a fakir. The rope would levitate, with no external support. His boy assistant, a jamoora, would climb the rope and then descend. Howard Thurston (July 20, 1869 – April 13, 1936) was a stage magician from Columbus, Ohio, United States. His childhood was unhappy and he ran away to join the circus, where his future partner Harry Kellar also performed. Thurston was deeply impressed after he attended magician Alexander Herrmann's magic show and was determined to equal his work. He eventually became the most famous magician of his time. Thurston's traveling magic show was the biggest one of all; it was so large that it needed eight train cars to transport his road show