Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Connais-tu Harry Houdini?

Here's a 64-page French Canadian Houdini biography by Johanne Ménard and Denis Poulin. Connais-tu Harry Houdini (Do You Know Harry Houdini?) was released on September 22 and was discovered by our friend Arthur Moses (who else?). For those who read French, here's a description:

Connais-tu Harry Houdini... le plus célèbre magicien du début du 20e siècle? l'illusionniste acclamé par les foules pour ses évasions extraordinaires? celui qu'on surnommait le « roi des menottes » et à qui aucun cadenas ne résistait? l'inventeur de la « cellule de torture chinoise », une cage vitrée remplie d'eau dont il s'extirpait en un tour de main, même suspendu par les pieds?

Connais-tu Harry Houdini aka Harry Houdini - Nº 17 can be purchased at the Canadian Amazon.ca.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween scene makes it into the 'Houdini' extended edition DVD

October 31, 2013 was not only the 87th anniversary of Houdini's death, but it was also the 14th day of production on the Houdini miniseries in Budapest. Before filming that day, the cast and crew held a minute of silence in honor of Houdini. This was proposed by technical advisor David Merlini and embraced by director Uli Edel.

The scene shot that day featured Adrien Brody's Houdini trying to escape from his first straitjacket in a London hotel room in 1905 [wildly inaccurate, I know, but we've been through all that]. The scene also features Kristen Connolly in her most authentic Bess hair and costume. Unfortunately, when the series aired in the U.S., this entire scene was relegated to just a few black and white flashbacks during Houdini's suspended jacket escape in San Francisco.

I'm happy to report that the full scene does appear in the extended edition Houdini DVD and Blu-ray released on October 7. However, the scene is now set in Houdini's home in New York. But listen closely and you'll still hear a reference to Harrods, the famous London department store (apparently Harrods sells straitjackets?).

It's great to have this Halloween Houdini tribute scene back in the film as planned. Just another reason the extended edition -- or what screenwriter Nicholas Meyer calls the "Lionsgate version" -- is the only version of Houdini to watch. In fact, I will be posting a re-review of this extended version soon.

Purchase Houdini on DVD and Blu-ray at Amazon.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Houdini-Margery letters sell for $25,000

A remarkable collection of 14 letters from Houdini detailing and discussing his investigation of "Margery" the medium sold yesterday at a Profiles in History auction for $25,000 (not including buyers premium). The letters include one in which Houdini lays out his idea for the Margery control box (or the "Margie Box" as he later called it).

Click to enlarge.
Harry Houdini amazing archive of (14) signed letters relating to the famed “Margery” psychic fraud case. Extraordinary archive of fourteen (14) signed letters by Houdini; all but two are written to Dr. Daniel F. Comstock in relation to their investigation of purported psychic Mrs. Mina Crandon, aka “Margery”, who claimed that she channeled the spirit of her dead brother Walter Stinson.

Letters date from July 26, 1924 to February 17, 1925, all with excellent content – one featuring an actual design sketch by Houdini of the restraint box used to expose Margery as a fraud. Content from Houdini includes: “I have been bitterly attacked by the National Spiritualist of America, and if Mrs. Crandon possesses psychic power, I want to announce it, and if not, I think the public should be so informed.” – “Been thinking things over and I believe the most comfortable and efficient ‘restraint’ would be to build some sort of box, or cabinet, have the medium seated therein with only her head and hands protruding, and in this way it would be impossible for her to use her head, feet, shoulders or body to ‘project’ things.” – “I immediately sent my assistant to construct a cabinet according to my size, which will be larger and more comfortable for Mrs. Crandon, as Dr. Crandon insists that I must submit to all mechanical devices.” – “You pleaded with Walter [Margery’s dead brother] to permit you to turn on the red light and he replied, as near as I can remember, ‘you can do it but you will kill the medium.’” –– “Regarding the box or cabinet I suggested, wherein only the medium’s head and arms are to protrude, if the box should be too warm, would suggest to use some strong mesh wire, so finely meshed that nothing could be pushed through, and it would not be flexible” – “The New York papers are giving a great deal of publicity to Mrs. Crandon and I think it is about time for the Committee to give the decision.” – “There will be plenty of room in it (the box). The cabinet will be locked down with hasps and staples” – “I want to give Mrs. Crandon every possible chance to make good and if she possesses any psychic power, I will be the first to assist her in proving her genuineness.” – “This investigation has cost me close to one hundred thousand dollars, which I can prove by my bookings and the time I refused to work. Therefore, any one who states that I am seeking publicity or making money out of it, they are making mis-statements.”

Lot also includes a Western Union telegraph from Houdini to Comstock as well as numerous original newspaper clippings and breathless headlines from The Boston Post following the events of Houdini and Crandon. These letters provide an amazing glimpse into Houdini’s thoughts surrounding the most important chapter of his psychic debunking career in the 1920s.

The auction also includes several other nice Houdini lots, one of which I thrilled to say I won! I'll be sharing that treasure here soon.

Congratulations to the seller and winner of these incredible letters.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

New radio adaptation of 'Imprisoned with the Pharaohs'

Dark Adventure Radio Theatre is offering an all-new radio adaptation of Houdini's Imprisoned with the Pharaohs. The "true" story was ghostwritten for Houdini by H.P. Lovecraft and features the Escape King trapped in the heart of an Egyptian pyramid.

As war brews in Europe, world-famous magician Harry Houdini and his wife Bess stop in Cairo on a world tour in the summer of 1914. There they meet with Miskatonic professor of archaeology Nate Ward, who tells them the story of Nitocris, the dreaded ghoul queen of the 4th Dynasty. After a visit to the Sphinx and a dig site led by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, the Houdinis follow their mysterious Arab tour guide, Abdul Reis al Drogman, to the top of the Great Pyramid. Secret identities are revealed and after a desperate struggle Houdini must attempt the escape of a lifetime from under the pyramids!

In this production, Houdini is voiced by Sean Branney and Bess is voiced by Leslie Baldwin. The adaptation is by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman. Original music is by Troy Sterling Nies with "Bub-L-Pep Jingle" written by Andrew Leman and arranged and performed by Harald Lindell and Kathleen Demarest. Audio engineering is by Chris Horvath.

The CD comes in a jewel case and is packed with nice extras, including a letter on authentic Cairo Museum letterhead in which Nate Ward describes the sarcophagus and mummy of Nitocris; a Cairo postcard from Houdini to tycoon Charlie Tower; the playbill from Houdini's show at the American Cosmograph Theater in English, French, Greek and Arabic, and more.

You can buy Imprisoned with the Pharaohs on CD or as an MP3 via the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre website.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Houdini Herald

Poster collector Mark Mawston shares with us today a remarkable item from his collection. This is a copy of "The Houdini Herald" dated February 6, 1919. This appears to have been tipped inside The Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly and promotes Houdini's movie serial, The Master Mystery, in the UK. While I've heard of these, I don't recall ever seeing one. Very nice!

Click to enlarge.

What makes this Herald extra special is that Mark discovered it in a house in London where Charlie Chaplin once lived with his mother. It also still has a perforated strip attached to the bottom.

So was "The Houdini Herald" a one off, or might there have been multiple editions? Let the hunt begin!

Thank you, Mark.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Last day to see the Houdini display at Hollywood Heritage

Tomorrow is the last day to see the Houdini display at the Hollywood Heritage Museum. I be there on Saturday to take it all away to make room for their next presentation on William Castle. Check it out if you can! I'm not sure when I'll have the chance to display this much of my Houdini memorabilia in one spot again.

The Hollywood Heritage Museum is located at 2100 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90068, directly across from the Hollywood Bowl. The museum is open from Noon to 4pm. Admission is $7. Children are free. For more info visit hollywoodheritage.org.

Join the 'World Famous Houdini Seance and Ghost Hunt' in York

Pontefract Paranormal in the UK will hold the "World Famous Houdini Seance and Ghost Hunt" at York Castle Prison in York on Halloween. Here is a description from the event page:

York Castle Prison has been a site of justice and incarceration for almost 1000 years. William the Conqueror built the first castle here in 1068 as a base to control the North of England and we know from written references that it had a prison.

One of the most famous prisoners was Dick Turpin and Harry Houdini refused to attempt to escape from his cell despite his skill in 1909 so we're going to hold a Houdini Seance using an actual pair of his handcuffs to strengthen the link. Houdini seances are world famous because Houdini died on Halloween and told his wife that if there was an afterlife he would make contact on Halloween and ever since seances have been held to attempt contact with the great man.

York is the ultimate ghost town and the prison is no exception with reports of many many spirits and ghosts it is THE place to be on Halloween. So Join Pontefract Paranormal and various experts in escapology and Dick Turpin to contact possibly the worlds most famous escapologist and join our investigation when the veil between the world is at it's thinnest.

We will provide some refreshments but it is recommended that you bring some snacks. A torch is essential. You must wear appropriate clothing for the time of year plus flat shoes. You may bring your own equipment including camcorders and cameras but we ask that you upload any pictures to our facebook site.

You can buy tickets to the event HERE. The official Facebook page reports that there are only 5 tickets left, so move fast!

This of course should not be confused with the Official Houdini Seance, which this year is being held in Danvers, MA.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is Ryan Gosling our next Houdini?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ryan Gosling has been offered the lead in Summit's The Secret Life of Houdini. The showbiz paper reports:

In recent weeks, the 33-year-old actor has met with Marvel Studios to discuss starring in the title role in Doctor Strange, and he is fielding an offer to top line Summit's adaptation of The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero.

Houdini, with Dean Parisot attached to direct, was to have starred Johnny Depp but the actor will be sailing with a new installment of Pirates of the Caribbean for almost half of 2015. Summit ideally would like to get going before that.

I'm not going to get too worked up about this. The entire article stinks of being a plant by Gosling's publicist or agent. (If you are really in talks with Marvel about playing Doctor Strange, you don't blab about it.) Also, The Hollywood Reporter has had a terrible track record when it comes to Houdini-related "exclusives" lately. Remember Houdini Live?

Guess we'll see.


Houdini haunts Famous Monsters of Filmland #276

The November/December issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland (#276) contains an article by Neil McNally looking at the films made of Houdini's life. Neil covers them all -- from Curtis to Brody -- and does a really nice job. He even notes the more obscure films, such as A Night At The Magic Castle and Cremaster 2. He also kindly gives WAH a credit at the end. (Thanks, Neil.)

The issue comes in two variant covers. One features Big Trouble in Little China and the other Wolves. I grabbed a Wolves cover from the awesome Creature Features in Burbank, who also sell on eBay. You can also buy from Captain Company.

This marks Houdini's second appearance in this classic monster mag. The first was an article about the Final Houdini Seance in issue #214 back in 1996.

Monday, October 13, 2014

When Houdini returned to Hollywood

Last Wednesday, October 8, I had the great pleasure of speaking at a special "Houdini in Hollywood" event at the Hollywood Heritage Museum. I'm happy to report that the evening was a resounding success, and I think all who attended had a great time. It was a true celebration of Houdini and his film career, and the museum was a perfect venue for this.

The Hollywood Heritage Museum is housed in the historic Lasky-DeMille Barn, which sits across from the Hollywood Bowl. This was the very first movie studio in Hollywood. It was here in 1913 that Jesse Lasky and Cecil B. DeMille filmed The Squaw Man. For many years the Barn made up the cornerstone of the Famous Players-Lasky studio on Selma and Vine. This was where Houdini made two of his films, The Grim Game and Terror Island, so, yes, Houdini was here!

The museum threw open the entire front room for our use, and we turned it into a Houdini museum. Three display cases were filled with Houdini memorabilia from my own collection along with memorabilia and handcuffs from the collection of Joe Fox. (The items will remain on the display until October 18.) On the night of the big event, Mark Willoughby provided what I called "the star of the show": an original lobby painting for The Man From Beyond owned by Houdini himself. This is one of only four paintings made for the Houdini film and it has never been displayed before. A stunner!

Original The Man From Beyond lobby painting.

The event sold out at the door and we had standing room only when I took to the podium at 7:30pm. I was excited to see some major magic luminaries in attendance, such as Mike Caveney, Rob Zabrecky, Mark Cannon, Patrick Culliton, and Flim Flam playwright Gene Franklin Smith. I was also happy to see so many friends and family in attendance. (I tried not to think that if I bombed, I would be doing so in front of many people who are very important to me.)

Rob Zabrecky, Mike Caveney, and Patrick Culliton.

I am happy to say my talk went extremely well. The Keynote presentation I had been building for the past month played to perfection (the movie clips had frozen up in my last practice run, so I was biting my nails). My talk, which lasted an hour, followed Houdini's life and career with an emphasis on his involvement in cinema. Despite the fact that the air-conditioning wasn't working, I felt I had the audience with me the entire time. They applauded each film clip as if it where a Houdini performance, and they even applauded some moments in the talk itself. There were also some nice laughs, including a tremendous laugh when I shared Jesse Lasky's assessment of Houdini's acting: "He did his best acting handcuffed and locked in a trunk at the bottom of a river." I have to thank James Hamilton for providing me with this great quotation.

I made a few mistakes that I can remedy here. I said "Lilly" Lee when it should have been Lila Lee. How Green Was My Valley was made in 1941, not '59 (see, I should never go off the topic of Houdini). Also, I think I gave the impression that Nita Naldi was absent from the surviving prints of The Man From Beyond. Not so. I was making the point that any scenes she might have had with Houdini are no longer present.

I had time for a few questions before introducing Jim Steinmeyer. Jim is a living legend who has designed and built magic apparatus for every great modern magician starting with Doug Henning and David Copperfield. Jim is also a best-selling author of several excellent books on magic, including Hiding The Elephant, which I consider one of the very best books ever written on the art. Jim took the podium and spoke briefly about how Houdini tied into his books, The Glorious Deception, The Last Greatest Magician in the World and Hiding the Elephant. Jim had copies to sign and sell during intermission. I have to say, it was a real honor to be sharing the stage with a giant like Jim Steinmeyer.

With Hollywood Heritage President Bryan Cooper and Jim Steinmeyer.

We then held our raffle, which was chaotic and fun. We gave away passes to The Autry National Center; a signed copy of The Glorious Deception (the rare hardcover); a DVD of the Houdini miniseries which Lionsgate had donated for the evening (a friend won this); and a pass for 4 to the The Magic Castle with dinner included. This last prize came from Jim Steinmeyer who sits on the AMA board, and was a real treat for the happy winner.

We then had intermission in which people gathered and enjoyed our Houdini museum. Food and refreshments where provided by Grub on a table nicely themed to Halloween. Interestingly, one of the displays case lights had failed to work during our preparations, and we had given up on it. I was surprised to see that the lights were now all mysteriously blazing away. Are you here, Harry?

We then settled back in the main room for a screening of Terror Island. Hollywood Heritage had selected this particular film because of the connection to Jesse Lasky and the Barn, but I think it was the best choice regardless. Most venues screen The Man From Beyond because it is the most complete Houdini film. But I think Terror Island plays much better for a modern audience. The movie played especially well to this audience of silent movie enthusiasts, who laughed and applauded several sequences. Of course, I really wish we could have shown The Grim Game. Maybe in the future.

This was the debut of my "Houdini in Hollywood" talk and I'm really happy that it went so well. I had to cut it down to fit the full Hollywood Heritage program, but I think an audience would enjoy a slightly longer talk with more clips. I'm now looking to present an extend version of this talk, and I'm currently eyeballing locations. Stay tuned.

I want to thank all the amazing staff at Hollywood Heritage, especially Richard Adkins, Bryan Cooper, and George Kiel. This organization is devoted to the preservation of Hollywood history, from film and photos archives to historic buildings and landmarks. It's a non-profit and a true labor of love for all who work very hard.

Also thanks to Ben Roman at the Magic Castle for arranging a discount to the event for AMA members. Thanks again to Mark Willoughby and Joe Fox for making our display extra special. And a big thanks to the multi-talented Athena Stamos for being my official photographer and taking all these awesome photos you see here.

It was a glorious return to Hollywood for Harry.

Houdini was here.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Albany accident

On October 11, 1926, Houdini broke his ankle while performing the Chinese Water Torture Cell at the Capitol Theater in Albany, New York. This is generally considered the start of a chain of events that would lead to his death 20 days later. This ankle breaking incident was dramatized for the first time in the recent Houdini miniseries with Adrien Brody.

To mark the occasion, here's a sensational letter from the collection of our friend Thomas Ewing of Haversat & Ewing Galleries. This is Houdini's own account of the accident in a letter to magician James S. Harto written 88 years ago today.

Click to enlarge.

I met with an accident with the Water Torture Cell last night. The cover snapped as we were drawing it up, and I have some sort of a fracture on the left leg. The left side of my body is somewhat weaker than the right, or perhaps it just struck a glancing blow. Anyway, it hit with enough force to smash the cover which is of heavy nickel-plated steel. If the blow had not broken the cover, I was informed by a doctor who was in the audience that it would have cut off my left ankle. I cannot believe that, hardly, but I guess it is so.

Tom points out the intriguing mention of Houdini's body being weaker on the left side than the right. Evidence of some early stage of illness? The final paragraph is utterly chilling as he maps out exactly what will be his final days on stage.

Thanks to Joe Notaro for reminding me of this anniversary. Joe also has some info on the Albany accident today on his blog Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence.

Thanks to Tom Ewing for allowing me to share this remarkable letter on WILD ABOUT HARRY.

UPDATE: Here's an interesting addendum to this story. This is a newspaper notice from the Van Curler Theater in Schenectady, Houdini's next stop in his tour, downplaying the accident and assuring audiences that he would perform as planned.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Photos from new German Houdini documentary

Here are a selection of photos from the new German Houdini documentary, Spiel mit dem Tod – Harry Houdini der Meistermagier, courtesy of producer ifage filmproduktion. I had the pleasure of helping out this production with some research.

Directed by Jens Monath, the documentary features actors in the roles of Houdini and Bess in reenactments. The adult Houdini is played Paul Cimpoieru. Houdini as a boy is played by Adrian Nour. Delia Nartea and Ioana Zaharia play the young and older Bess Houdini.

The documentary also features Houdini escape reenactments by German magician Jan Rouven.

Spiel mit dem Tod – Harry Houdini der Meistermagier will air on German station ZDF October 19 at 19.30.

Thanks to Jessica Demirkaya.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Houdini grave restoration details revealed

S.A.M. present-elect David Bowers and current president "Ice" McDonald.

Last month we learned that the Society of American Magicians planned to undertake a restoration of Houdini's grave in Queens, NY. Now Christopher Barca in the Queens Chronicle has revealed details of exactly what this restoration will entail.

The project will be done in two phases and may take a total of two years to complete, according to S.A.M. president Kenrick "Ice" McDonald and president-elect David Bowers, who visited the plot last week.

In the first phase, the glass S.A.M. mosaic, which is caked in dirt and missing several tiles, will be repaired. The entire exedra will then be power-washed in order to restore its original gray color.

The second phase will be to replace the missing headstones of Leopold and Gladys Weiss, which have been absent from the plot since 1993. This is especially good news. Let's hope that the plan is to restore or match the originals.

The total cost of the project is still undetermined as the society is waiting on a price estimate for the mosaic's repair. Bowers said it is a foregone conclusion that the S.A.M. will approve the funding request.

"Houdini is responsible for the Society of American Magicians being what it is today," said Bowers. "We feel like we owe a debt of gratitude to him."

While the plot remains under the control of Machpelah Cemetery management, the S.A.M, along with Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz of the Houdini Museum in Scranton, will be in charge of the restoration.

Related posts:

"Metamorphosis" seeks a new home

In 2010, Appleton's "Metamorphosis" sculpture, which had stood in the center of Houdini Plaza since 1985, was removed and put into storage while the plaza underwent a massive renovation.

The new Houdini Plaza now has a beautiful fountain centerpiece, and WHBY reports that Alex Schultz, president of Sculpture Valley, is trying to find Metamorphosis a new home.

Schultz says one possible location is a roundabout on the east end of the College Avenue bridge. A second location would be along Lawe Street. Schultz points out that there's already a marker at the place where Houdini almost drowned as a child.

Metamorphosis sits atop a red-brick platform that resembles a stage. The abstract metal box is balanced on the point of one of its corners and draped with a padlocked chain. The sculpture was created by Richard C. Wolter and was donated to the city by Boldt Development Corp. (yes, as in Tom Boldt).

Metamorphosis is currently in storage at the city's facility and grounds building in Memorial Park.

Related posts:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs

I missed this one when it was release back in April. Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead is yet another Houdini-Holmes adventure. Here's a synopsis:

A brazen daylight robbery at Christie's becomes the talk of London, but Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are no longer in the business of solving crime. Holmes has retired to Sussex, to keep bees, and Watson, recently widowed, has returned to general practice. But when Watson, desperate for distraction, agrees to accompany his old friend to Vienna, to visit eminent neurologist, Sigmund Freud, it is not long before the pair are pulled back into the murky world of ruthless criminals bent on abduction, intimidation and murder. A shadowy terrorist group, The Black Hand, is plaguing the city, and when the tentacles of a crime committed in England reach across to Vienna to cil around Harry Houdini, the famous American escapologist, the Great Detective and his Boswell relish the chance of solving yet another puzzle.

Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs is available in hardcover and for Kindle from Amazon.

The star of the show

I'm happy to report that last night's "Houdini in Hollywood" event at Hollywood Heritage Museum was a resounding success! We had a standing room only crowd, and I really think everyone enjoyed all aspects of the evening; from my talk, to Jim Steinmeyer's appearance, to the raffle and screening of Terror Island. I'll have a full report with pics up in a few days, but I didn't want to leave you all in suspense about our mystery display item -- the real star of the show -- so here it is:

Original lobby stand for Houdini’s silent feature The Man From Beyond (1921). The film was the first made for the Houdini Picture Corporation and featured Houdini as a man frozen in ice for 100 years.

This lobby stand has a unique hand painted image and originally came from Houdini’s personal collection. It is displayed here for the first time since 1921.

From the Collection of Mark Willoughby

Thanks to everyone who showed up last night. It was indeed a glorious return to Hollywood for Harry.

UPDATE: When Houdini returned to Hollywood.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Houdini is ready for his closeup

Tonight is my big Houdini in Hollywood event at the Hollywood Heritage Museum. To mark the occasion, our good friend John C. Hinson, the great nephew of Harry and Bess Houdini, has sent over this fantastic image of silent screen superstar Gloria Swanson who has playfully inscribed this photo to Houdini himself.

I hope to see some of you at tonight's event. For those who can't make it, I will do my best to get pics up within the next few days.

The Hollywood Heritage Museum is located at 2100 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90068, directly across from the Hollywood Bowl (enter on Odin St.). Parking is plentiful and free. Phone is (323) 874-2276. For more visit hollywoodheritage.org.

UPDATE: When Houdini returned to Hollywood.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Houdini in Hollywood and Beyond

Tomorrow, October 8, I will be giving a special Houdini in Hollywood talk at the Hollywood Heritage Museum. All this week the museum has on display rare Houdini memorabilia from my own collection as well handcuffs from the collection of Joe Fox.

But tomorrow we will have on display a very special item from the collection of our good friend, Mark Willoughby. Mark has never shown this item before, and it's a jaw dropper! I'm not going to tell you what it is -- at least not until after the event -- and it will ONLY appear for this one night before it goes back to the great Beyond.

So if you want to see a rare artifact from Houdini's film career, get a ticket to "Houdini in Hollywood" via brownpapertickets. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

The Hollywood Heritage Museum is located at 2100 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90068, directly across from the Hollywood Bowl (enter on Odin St.). Parking is plentiful and free. Phone is (323)-874-2276. For more visit hollywoodheritage.org.

UPDATE: When Houdini returned to Hollywood.

Double down on Houdini TODAY

Today sees two major Houdini releases hitting the store shelves (and Amazon) here in the U.S.

First up is the DVD and Blu-ray release of the Houdini miniseries starring Adrien Brody and Kristen Connolly. The 2-disc set includes the extended international version (or what screenwriter Nicholas Meyer calls the "Lionsgate version") as well as the cut down version that aired on HISTORY last month. It also includes four behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Having now seen the extended edition, I can say it is far superior to what was shown on HISTORY. I'd even go as far as to say that the network did a great disservice to viewers and the filmmakers by showing us something that I would call unfinished. In fact, I will be doing a full re-review if the extended version in the coming weeks.

Next is the U.S. release of the first book in Simon Nicholson's new Young Houdini series, The Magician's Fire. The book is released by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and is aimed at readers 10-13. The series features the fictional adventures of a young Houdini in 1886 New York.

Purchase Young Houdini: The Magician's Fire on Amazon

You can see cover art and read a synopsis for Nicholson's second Young Houdini book, The Demon Curse, HERE. You can also read and interview with the author today at Second Bookshelf on the Right.

Monday, October 6, 2014

This week Hollywood Heritage is a Houdini Museum

This Wednesday, October 8, I will be hosting a special Houdini in Hollywood night at the Hollywood Heritage Museum in, you guessed it, Hollywood! To get ready for the big event, Joe Fox and I have set up three full display cases filled with Houdini memorabilia from our personal collections, turning Hollywood Heritage into a temporary Houdini museum!

Even you can't make it to the Wednesday event, you can still go have a look at the Houdini displays for the next week during regular museum hours. And, remember, Hollywood Heritage is housed in the historic Lasky-DeMille Barn, which was the cornerstone of the Famous Players-Lasky studios where Houdini made The Grim Game and Terror Island. So Houdini was here! For that reason alone the museum is a must visit, and what better week to do so.

Tickets are still available for "Houdini in Hollywood" via brownpapertickets. They tell me the event is now half sold out, which typically means it will sell out at the door on the night of the event. So if you want to make sure you get in, you might want to grab an advance ticket, or come early and enjoy the Houdini museum. (We will have an additional ultra-rare item on display that night only.) And, remember, Magic Castle members get a special 20% discount.

Click to enlarge.

The Hollywood Heritage Museum is located at 2100 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90068, directly across from the Hollywood Bowl (enter on Odin St.). Parking is plentiful and free. Phone is (323)-874-2276. For more visit hollywoodheritage.org.

UPDATE: The Houdini display has now been extend to October 18.


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