Below is Young's Million Dollar Pier in Atlantic City in Houdini's day. It was demolished in 1983 and today is the site of Caesars Playground Pier.
SAINT: Well how would you have him receive this message, through crystal or clairvoyance or...
PRESS AGENT: Mr. Saint, I haven't even gone into that. That is something that I'd have to first get your okay, then I'd broach the subject to him, if only to bring him something to him unless I knew I could go through with it. And then have the two of you sit down -- I understand you are a very smart publicity man yourself, or along research lines that is I've been told so -- and then sit down and figure out a way in which it could be done, you understand?
PRESS AGENT: And the only thing that would be necessary for Mrs. Houdini in the matter would be to say, "Well, at last it came!" And there wouldn't be any public demonstration or anything of the kind of it.
SAINT: I see. Other words all you would need is a signed statement that it was...
PRESS AGENT: Yes, and have nothing public because the minute you make it a public thing it would look like publicity. This has to come at an opportune time, or you might term it an inopportune time. That Alexander didn't do it while the $10,000 that was offered -- I think that was the publicity at the time, is that right? Well whether or not it was makes no difference.
SAINT: Well, I'll tell you, Mr. Runny[?], I know that the legitimate angle that Mrs. Houdini has carried from the time of Houdini's death all the way through the present moment would prohibit even broaching such a thing, and is to pervert or falsify or prostitute such a, well, I'd say almost a sacred thing as an occasion of Houdini... [the recording cuts off].
PRESS AGENT: He was a very sour man toward show business because he had been a rank failure at it. And he laid in wait for anyone to come along with a handcuff act. He had lever cells which are unbeatable as you know.The conversation ends with:
PRESS AGENT: And so, Martin Beck... I happened to be doing, during the summer, I happened to be handling the publicity for Springfield and Terre Haute, Indiana. And I got to talking to Saul Bear here. And I dropped in and happened to see Harry at the Penn Hotel in Philadelphia. I met him there and I said, "I see you're into Indianapolis at the Orpheum there." He says, "Yes." I said, "Well, they got the new county jail there." He says, "Well I don't have to take..." He was doing some cabinet escape, I forgot what they called it, upside down in water or something. You probably remember.
SAINT: Aha. Yeah.
PRESS AGENT: I said, "Would you like to beat that jail?" Well he says, "Not necessarily." Well I says, Saul Bear's a friend of mine, and I said if you want to beat him, then I'll take care of that for you. Well he says, "I'll take care of you." And I says, "You don't need to take care of me." I don't know if Mrs. Houdini remembers it or not. But when he got there, everything was all perfectly arranged. Now that was ace publicity.
PRESS AGENT: But I don't want to try and convince you of anything, Mr. Saint, you're probably much older than I am and know all the answers and all the angles. The thought just came to me and there is no harm in everyone giving vent to what their real feelings are when they got the nucleus of a good idea.
SAINT: [laughing] Surely, surely.
O'CONNER: Of course, everybody in the show business knows Houdini, they know what he stood for and what he'd done, and it's merely a matter of devising a fictional treatment, see. They are not concerned with biographies at all, such as the Paramount thing is concerned, you see? Biographies are a dead issue. All the biographies have failed at the box office. That goes for all of them, including Pasture. That was a terrible flop by reason of it being a biography.
O'CONNER: The story has to be written by a top flight writer, such a Dudley Nichols or John Steinbeck. In other words they want something to exploit in the publicity. Life of Houdini by John Steinbeck. Steinbeck the author of Mice and Men, Tortilla Flats and numerous others. Or Hemmingway, somebody like that, see? He'd probably do very little of the work, but his name will be used. All of which they call box office insurance.
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In reality, this trick is absurdly simple. Handcuffs not being an article in extensive demand, there are but a few kinds made. Professor Houdini is supplied with these, and with the keys that unlock them. He keeps conveniently about him all keys known to the handcuff trade.