Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Water Torture Cell in the 1980s

Our friend Harry Houdini (and that is his legal name) has sent over a terrific photograph that he took of the original Water Torture Cell in the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in the early 1980s (he thinks this is '83 or '84). This really gives a good look at the cell and the sorry condition it was in. Also, it appears this is when the cell had the infamous aquarium effect installed. Note the lighting fixture on top.

Click to enlarge

Thank you Mr. Houdini for sharing this pic from the past. You can read all about the 100 year history of the Water Torture Cell here.

11 comments:

  1. Here's a shot of the cell I took in 1981 from a virtually identical angle. Makes me sad to think about its condition.

    http://houdini.intervalmagic.com/hall/wtc.jpg

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    1. Yes, I remember that pic. At first I thought this was the same photo!

      BTW, HH doesn't think the aquarium effect was installed at this time. But there certainly appears to be something going on in there.

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    2. Actually, I think the double glass of the "aquarium effect" is still inside, but it's not filled with water. I wonder when/if Sid Radner became aware of what condition the cell was in during this time.

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  2. It sure does look that way in the pics. Not sure why H.M. thought that was a good idea at the time.

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    1. Nor why he wouldn't think to even clean off the rust that had collected at the base of the cell. It's there in your pic, it's still there in this pic. It was probably there eating away at the cell until 1991. It's shocking.

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  3. Exactly. So very sad. BTW, do you know if the authorities ever found out who set fire to the museum (if that was the case)? I know they suspected arson, but I couldn't find any follow-up news stories.

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    1. No, I've never heard anything about the cause. BTW, the only thing destroyed was the USD. Everything else seemed to have made it out.

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  4. I suspected a lot of stuff made it out, including the Iron Maiden, which Copperfield now owns, and the slides Houdini used for his presentation on Spiritualism, which I assume are the same slides Arthur Moses now has. Nonetheless, I was under the impression much more was destroyed, probably because of what the Niagara Falls Review reported the next day: "The suspicious fire caused an estimated $100,000 damage and completely gutted the building..." I hadn't read or heard anything to the contrary until now, so I'm glad to know everything didn't burn or melt.

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    1. I think that $100,000 was all the USD. I don't think anything else was burned. In fact, I'm now thinking the fire didn't go beyond the small room at the end of the museum that housed the USD.

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  5. Hey Ask Jon the Amazing Oliver he sleeps in Houdini s bed he might know about the water cell and the pics

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