Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The last battlefield

It isn't surprising that Houdini's campaign against fraudulent mediums brought on lawsuits. It's said Houdini was facing over $2 million in lawsuits at the time of his death. And while we could expect mediums to file suit against Houdini himself, here's one who took the extra step of suing the theater, in this case B.F. Keith's in Boston. This is from the August 5, 1926 New York Times (page 34).


Houdini didn't seem to be troubled by lawsuits. He had the means to defend himself and made the most of the publicity. But suing individual theaters (or circuits) could make them reluctant to book Houdini, and that could impact his career. So this might have been a shrewd tactic late in the battle.

In fact, this is shrewd enough that I can't help but wonder if Boston's own Dr. Le Roi Crandon (husband of Margery) might have been guiding the medium here?

Thanks to long-time reader Harry Houdini (real name) for this one.

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NOTE: If you enjoy historical posts such as this one, please see that I now offer a custom Viewing Option in which you can view only Houdini history related posts.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Houdini Museum of New York moves to new location

The Houdini Museum of New York at Fantasma Magic had moved to a NEW location at 213 West 35th Street, Room 401, New York, NY 10001. Below are the first photos of the new expanded museum, which, as you can see, now includes Q!




While I've not confirmed it, I'm pretty certain the museum's new Q The Automaton figure (from Houdini's The Master Mystery) is John Gaughan's terrific "working" reproduction that he created for the 2015 Los Angeles Magic History Conference.

For more on the new Houdini Museum of New York, check out their website, Facebook and Instagram.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Houdini and Dunninger lurk in The Shadow 124

An article by Will Murray exploring the "Gibson-Houdini-Lovecraft connection" is included in volume 124 of Sanctum Books The Shadow. The collection includes two stories in which The Shadow unmasks phony spiritualists, including "House of Ghosts" in which he teams with Joseph Dunninger.

THE SHADOW Volume 124: “The Ghost Makers” & “House of Ghosts”. The Master of Darkness unmasks phony spiritualists in two legendary pulp novels. First, in one of Walter Gibson’s greatest classics, the Dark Avenger investigates “The Ghost Makers” after a glowing dagger materializes to bring death at a seance. Then, The Shadow teams with real-life ghostbuster Joseph Dunninger to investigate a series of spirit murders in a “House of Ghosts." This haunting collectors collection showcases the original color pulp covers by George Rozen and Modest Stein and interior illustrations by Tom Lovell and Paul Orban, while Will Murray explores the Gibson-Houdini-Lovecraft connection and Anthony Tollin recalls The Shadow Big Little Books. (Sanctum Books) 978-1-60877-241-4 Softcover, 7x10, 128 pages, B&W, $14.95

You can purchase The Shadow Vol. 124 via the Sanctum Books website and on Amazon. For more information visit Sanctum Books on Facebook.

Thanks to Tim King for the alert.

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Winner of the McCord's Houdini poster contest

The McCord Museum in Montreal has announced the winner of their "Houdini Last Show Poster Contest." Entrants were asked to create a poster for Houdini's last show at the Princess Theater in Montreal. Samuel Clairoux won the prize of the jury and the public's favorite prize for his poster below.

Winner

Finalists
Come discover the posters by our "Houdini: The Last Show" contest finalists, exhibited at the Museum from December 8, 2017 to January 7, 2018! It is your last chance to visit the exhibition "Illusions: The Art of Magic" before it comes to an end.

For more information visit the McCord Museum website or Facebook.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

278 asking price drops by $1 million

The asking price for Houdini's famous New York home at 278 West 113th Street in Harlem is now $3.6 million. That's a full $1 million reduction from the original asking price of $4.6 when the house first went on the market in June. The sale of the brownstone is being handled by Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Houdini purchased "278" (as he called it) in 1904. This is the first time the house has been on the market in 26 years.

If you follow this blog, you'll remember that I attended the first open house and gave a full report on what I saw inside. I also posted a history of the house and its owners over the years.

Thanks to Janet Davis for the alert.

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Houdini musical can't escape sound problems

This one slipped past me last year, but it appears a Houdini musical, Houdini, a varázslatos musical (Houdini, the magical musical) had its premiere in Hungary. I discovered the official artwork (below). But reading the comments at PORT.hu, it looks like the venue sunk this show with poor sound and parking. Said one attendee, "The actors seem to have tried to give it everything, to no avail."


Below are links to some other Houdini stage musicals, successful and otherwise.

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Apologies if I've not answered your email


Hey everyone. Just wanted to say I'm sorry if you've sent me an email and I've not yet responded. My real-world work has kept me very busy this season, and it takes my all just to keep up with Houdini news and the blog. Something has to be neglected, and that something is my WAH email. But I'll do my best to answer all when I get some holiday downtime.

Thanks for understanding. -John

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Vivianne Perret's 4th book brings Houdini home

Even though I can't read French, I still look forward to each installment of Vivianne Perret's French language "Houdini Magicien & Detective" series. That's because the author sets her fictional stories within a historically accurate time and place in Houdini's career, and it's fun to see where Vivianne will send Harry next.

Book 1, Metamorphosis was set in San Fransisco in 1899. Book 2, Le Kaiser Et Le Roi Des Menottes, was set in Berlin in 1900. The just released book 3, La Reine de Budapest, is set in Budapest in 1902 (okay, she cheated the year a bit for that one).

Now comes word that the fourth book will be set in New York in 1904, taking place largely inside Houdini's newly purchased home at 278 W 113th Street. The book is called La Maison Mystère (The Mystery House) and will be released in February 21, 2018. It can be pre-ordered now at Amazon.fr.

You can purchase all the "Houdini Magicien & Détective" books from Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.com.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bob Brown's 1933 Houdini poem reprinted

What is likely the earliest book of Houdini-inspired poetry, 1933's Houdini by Bob Brown, has been reprinted in a new paperback edition from Roving Eye Press.

Bob Brown (1886-1959) was an American writer and publisher, central to the pulp fiction factory of the early twentieth century, the expatriate avant-garde in France, and the Bohemian arts scene in Greenwich Village in the 1950s. Originally published in 1933, Houdini was a pamphlet-length book part of The Modern Edition poetry series under the editorial direction of Kathleen Tankersley Young. This new edition includes a Foreword by K. A. Wisniewski, an Introduction by Craig Saper, and a new cover and text design. It is the latest title from the revamped Roving Eye Press, the press originally started by Brown in the late 1920s.

You can buy Bob Brown's Houdini at Amazon.com (U.S.) and Amazon.co.uk (UK).

UPDATE: Be alerted that while this book is 19 pages, most of that is the introduction and forward. Brown's actual poem is only 4 pages.

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Monday, December 4, 2017

A Regular Little Houdini comes to New York

Daniel LLewelyn-Williams' acclaimed one-man play A Regular Little Houdini will make its New York City debut December 12 through the 31st at the 59E59 Theaters. A special press opening will be held Sunday, December 17 at 3:30 PM.

An enchanting story that blurs the lines between childhood imagination and the cynicism of adulthood. An extraordinary tale of hope, determination, and magic!

Newport, South Wales: A tenacious young dockworker's son, smitten by Harry Houdini's amazements, dreams of a life of magic to "escape" a suffocating, impoverished future and unlock his shackles—the brutal Welsh working-class reality of Edwardian Britain. Is it possible to follow one's dreams in a world where poverty weighs you down like mud?

A Regular Little Houdini is written and performed by Daniel LLewelyn-Williams and directed by Joshua Richards. Original music is by Meg Cox. Magic was created by Adrian Solar and Tom Silburn.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit 59E59 Theaters. You can read my review of the play below.

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

LINK: Magician Harry Houdini -- Hot or Not?

This post at The Flaming Nose TV Blog appeared back in 2014. It's a terrific post by Lisa that assess the relative "hotness" of Houdini and the actors who have portrayed him on screen.

I'm sorry I failed to link to this back then, not only because it's an excellent post, but because I like supporting fellow bloggers who share their passions and knowledge. I think independent blogs like The Flaming Nose represent what's best about the Internet, and I fear they are now being downed out by the Twitters, Facebooks, and organizational blogs that are less about sharing passion and more about spreading agendas and advertising.

Or maybe I just like this because Lisa and I appear to be kindred spirits in our affection for the 1976 TV movie The Great Houdinis. It's also interesting to hear she worked in programming at TNT when the 1998 Johnathon Schaech biopic aired, so she has an insider's take on that film.

But why am I telling you this? Click on the headline and have a read for yourself, and let's keep on blogging!

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Saturday, December 2, 2017

100 year ago: The Houdini-Hilliar Code hand off


It was 100 years ago today that Houdini entered The Billboard offices in New York and gave an inscribed copy of Roget's Thesaurus to his good friend William J. Hilliar. Houdini said, "Hilliar, there is OUR code, but never breathe it to a living soul. If I go first and you get a message from me which includes these words you will know it is genuine. If you pass on first I will look for the same from you."

Hilliar keep the book and what Houdini had written inside a secret. In fact, it remained a secret until it was finally revealed right here on WILD ABOUT HARRY on Halloween 2016 to mark the 90th anniversary of Houdini's death.

So on the anniversary of the famous hand-off, I thought it would be fun to link back to that two-part post and relive the story of the secret Houdini-Hilliar message code:


Thursday, November 30, 2017

American Pinball offering Houdini game artwork

American Pinball is offering high quality prints of the translite and playfield of their new "Houdini Master of Mystery" pinball machine. The artwork is by Jeff Busch.

We are proud to offer the Houdini Translite which is a unique art piece that utilizes the eye-catching art from our backglass, and showcases some of the characters on the stage getting ready to open the curtain on the API Grand stage for Houdini to appear. Only $85 shipped to your door within the US. International Shipping is also available.
We are offering High Quality Miniature Playfield Prints. These are a 12x24 miniature print of the art of the Houdini Playfield. It is printed on high gloss quality paper and is perfect for framing and showcasing the art behind Houdini. Only $35 shipped to your door within the US. International Shipping is also available.

To purchase the Houdini Translite or Playfield print email: sales@american-pinball.com.

American Pinball's "Houdini Master of Mystery" pinball machine is yet to be released, but you can keep up with the progress at their official website and Facebook. There you can also watch a video of the gameplay.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Russian Houdini escape room

Escape Room attractions certainly remain popular around the world. In Moscow the Escape Room facility Claustrophobia features a Houdini-themed room. Love the promotional images below (click to enlarge).

Harry Houdini is a renowned conjuror and illusionist. He has demonstrated to the whole world that he could get out of any set of handcuffs and escape from any locked room. This time the conjuror decided to share his art and find some trainees. How far can you go? Test your luck! Are you ready to pass an exam and enter Houdini’s academy? You have one hour to make an escape in an attempt to excel your legendary teacher!

For more vist the Claustrophobia website. Below are links to a few other Houdini-themed Escape Rooms.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Rough Riders Vol. 2 collected edition released

Aftershock Comics has released a collected edition of Adam Glass's second series Rough Riders: Riders on the Storm.

Three years have passed since the Rough Riders last adventure, but when an assassins’ bullet takes President William McKinley’s life, Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt is thrust into the role of Commander in Chief. As a country mourns the loss of their leader, Roosevelt believes that the assassin is part of a bigger conspiracy, ones whose tentacles reach back to Europe and whose intentions are to destroy humanity through world-wide ANARCHY.

To stop them Roosevelt must convince Harry Houdini, Jack Johnson, Thomas Edison and Annie Oakley to band together again. But time has strained the bonds that once united them and the ideologies of their enemies may have already seeped into one of their own.

The collected Rough Riders Vol. 2: Riders on the Storm can be purchased at Amazon.com (U.S.) and Amazon.co.uk (UK).

A third series, Rough Riders: Ride or Die, will kick off on February 18, 2018.

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