Part Two TONIGHT at 9/8c on HISTORY

Saturday, August 31, 2013

AUDIO: Marie Hinson remembers her sister Bess Houdini

Bess and her sister Marie in 1909. (Photo courtesy John C. Hinson.)

Probably the most incredible experience any Houdini buff can have is talking to someone who actually knew Harry and Bess Houdini. But with the passing of Dorothy Young in 2010, the last living connection to Houdini appears to be gone. To my knowledge there is no one left who knew, or even saw, Houdini in life. The ability to have that most incredible experience is now lost forever.

That's why what I have to share today is, I believe, the most extraordinary thing I've ever posted on this blog. Because today I can offer everyone that very experience!

A few months back Jon Oliver -- the man who sleeps in Houdini's bed -- provided me with audio of Bess Houdini's sister, Marie Hinson (Rahner), being interviewed by Stanley Palm around 1980. The Houdinis were very close with Marie and her husband John aka "Pop." In fact, Houdini paid for their wedding in 1911. In this amazing interview we hear Marie (who passed away in 1982 at age 95) talking in great detail about her sister and brother-in-law. This is as close as one can get to the real Harry and Bess Houdini!

Jon has given me free rein to present this as I like. I considered transcripts, but there's something about hearing Marie's actual voice that teleports the listener back in time. To hear her talk so matter-of-factly about how Houdini "came to the house"... Wow. So I've decided instead to post three unedited audio excerpts, which I will roll out over the three days of this Labor Day weekend.

Why only excerpts? While the full 42 minute recording is amazing, this was a casual interview and at times Marie expressed non-Houdini related thoughts that seemed too private to post online. Also at times the conversation drifted and stories never quite connected or completed. But I've excerpted three strong sections, each longer than the last, and what I will conclude with on Monday (Labor Day) is the most intimate recollection of Bess Houdini ever to be made public.

Okay, this is it. Thanks to Jon Oliver, Stanley Palm, and with the blessings of John C. Hinson and the Hinson family, the readers of WILD ABOUT HARRY can have the most incredible experience that any Houdini buff can have. Click below and meet a women who knew the real Harry and Bess Houdini and has stories that, as Stanley says in this first installment, "Aren't in any of the books." Enjoy.



16 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I knew you'd dig this, Dean. Just wait for the next two installments.

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  2. "She was a devil. But Houdini never knew that." This is wonderful, John. Cannot wait to hear the rest in the coming days! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. That's the quote of the day! It really is wonderful, isn't it? When I first heard this my brain melted.

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    2. Yes, exciting stuff! I love how she said the mother thought Houdini was the devil. And how Houdini didn't want to have lunch with Bess and Marie and, instead, went to grab a hamburger. So many interesting little tidbits in that short clip.

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  3. Incredible! Looking forward to more.

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    1. You won't be let down. Can you believe it gets even better?

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    2. I believe! BTW great photo of Bess and her sister.

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    3. John Hinson provided me with that pic and many others (stay tuned for those!). I've seen this shot before -- in Randi, I believe -- but I never knew that was Marie. She was a looker!

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  4. This is incredible John, thank you! I'd still love to read a transcript. Some of the conversation is tough to make out. It sounds like it was recorded on a cassette player and not something nicer like a reel to reel. Lots of hiss in there.

    Interesting that Marie mentioned that Bess would help her financially: "We needed it!" She gave Marie $20.00 to make a pillow. Twenty bucks was a lot of money back then. Probably about a hundred now.

    It appears that Houdini was the only one in both families making the big bucks.

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    1. Yeah, I'm sure it was made with a consumer tape recorder. Not great, but we have it!

      It's clear from this interview that both Harry and Bess were very generous and helped out their families finically. Houdini paid for Marie's wedding. Even bought her wedding dress (which John Hinson still owns, btw).

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  5. my grandmother was a great lady she had class. she only stood 5ft,and bess stood 4'11.You know when she enter a place. It brought back memory to here her voice, thanks Jon and Jon.

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    1. My pleasure, John. She indeed sounds like a great lady and, as you can see, everyone here is thrilled to hear her stories.

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  6. Absolutely awesome. Thank you so much for the share.
    Great. Thanks.
    Narinder

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  7. Superb, John, thanks for sharing. Agree that a transcript would be helpful. But you're right to run the audio, that spirit can't come across via transcript.

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  8. I second the transcript idea. English is not my native language and I bet it's the same with a lot of people reading this blog and this kind of audio quality make it very hard to be understood. Anyway just hearing her voice seems magical, great job!!!!

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