Click to enlarge
Here is a fantastic unpublished photo of Houdini on the Famous Players Lasky backlot shaking hands with actor Clarence Geldart while director Donald Crisp looks on. This image is from Arthur Moses, who generously sent this over for me to share and for all to enjoy.
Clarence Geldart appeared in 127 films between 1915 and 1936. Donald Crisp was a writer and director during the silent era. He would go on to become a well-known character actor and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1942 for his performance in How Green Was My Valley.
This photo was most likely taken during the filming of Fires of Faith (1919), the story of the Salvation Army during World War I. The movie was directed by Crisp and featured Geldart as "Railton."
But why is Houdini in a bathing suit and what appears to be movie make-up (at least his hair is dyed)? There is a pool back there -- could Houdini be shooting some underwater escape action that has been lost to time? Or maybe he is just taking publicity shots in preparation for his first Hollywood feature, The Grim Game.
A very big thank you to Arthur Moses for letting me share this image, and to Marc Wanamaker of the Bison Archives for helping me identify the players.