Arthur H. (“Al”) Wheatley a.k.a. “Chop Chop”
Arthur H. (“Al”) Wheatley was born in Perth, Australia in 1901. Many who knew him give out his name as Albert or Alvin, but more official sources, including his granddaughter confirm that it was Arthur. In 1906 he moved with his family to a farm in Connecticut. As a youth he studied to be an electrical engineer, but also worked as an assistant to magician Jean Hugard in Coney Island. By the 1930s, he was working solo as a professional magician. He usually performed under Asiatic guises, first as Ching Ling Fu (not be confused with Ching Ling Foo, though I’m sure that was Wheatley’s idea), then as Tung Pin Soo, then as the persona he would come to be best known as “Chop Chop”. In the 50′s he toured with Ted Lewis and appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, where he made a knot disappear from a handkerchief using his breath, and caused a chicken to appear and disappear from a covered pan. His most famous creation is the simple but effective Chop Cup (see here for a demonstration). He passed away in 1965. This was a good time (long past, in fact) to stop doing Chop-Chop.
To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.