Chang Yu Sing, the Chinese Giant
Today is the birthday of Chang Yu Sing (a.k.a Chang Woo Gow, 1847-1893). Born in Fuzhou, Fuijan China, he began to grow with startling speed at age 7; by age 18 he was nearly 8 feet tall and he began to exhibit himself in Hong Kong. Soon thereafter he moved to England with a retinue that included his wife King Foo (a.k.a “The Golden Lily, the Most Beautiful Woman in China”), a three foot dwarf named Chung Mow, and their staff. They appeared in music halls in London and Paris, and then came to New York in 1869, where they performed at Wood’s Museum and then embarked on a national tour with Newcomb’s Minstrels. From here, Chang & Co. went on to Australia. Along the way, King Foo died and Chang married a woman named Catherine Santley. In 1880 he toured the U.S. again with a P.T. Barnum show with General Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren, surviving both a train wreck in 1881 and a train fire in 1884, along the way. In 1890, he and Catherine retired to the country side in England.
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.
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