Samri Baldwin, “The White Mahatma”



Today is the birthday of Samuel Spencer “Samri” Baldwin (1848-1924) . Originally from Cincinnati, Baldwin became inspired to become a magician by studying the Davenport Brothers, and became one of the first mentalists by studying the tricks of Anna Eva Fay (who claimed to be a true medium).

Billed under the culturally appropriative and cheerfully racist soubriquet “The White Mahatama”, Baldwin publicly performed handcuff escapes and debunked fraudulent mediums, both activities prior to Houdini. His wife Kate or Kittie was often employed as his partner in the mentalism part of his act, as was his daughter Shadow, a.k.a. “Miss Baldwin”.

The lady confederate would be led onstage in a trance, blindfolded, and then asked to ascertain the content of messages audience members had written on pads of paper. The Baldwins were the first to do this type of act.  Samri Baldwin’s books include Spirit Mediums Exposed (1879) and Secrets of Mahatma Land Explained (1895).

For more on vaudeville historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.