Sunday, September 1, 2013

AUDIO: Marie Hinson remembers Houdini's private show in Newport


Today we continue our special Labor Day Weekend audio interview with Bess Houdini's sister, Marie Hinson (Rahner), recorded by Stanley Palm around 1980. These clips come courtesy of Jon Oliver and are shared here with the blessings of John C. Hinson, the great nephew of Harry and Bess Houdini.

In this except, Marie remembers traveling with Houdinis to Newport, Rhode Island, on August 21, 1912 to give a private show at the estate of the Belmonts (now called Belcourt Castle). Our friend Dean Carnegie recently posted a nice account of this party on his blog The Magic Detective. But here is what it was like to have been there in person, right down to the magnificent strawberries.

As I said yesterday, hearing first hand recollections from someone who knew Houdini and Bess in life is the most incredible experiences any Houdini buff can have. So let's listen to Marie tell us all about her experience in Newport with her famous brother-in-law and her seemingly always mischievous sister. Enjoy.



Courtesy of Dean Carnegie.

Tomorrow: Marie shares what might be the most intimate recollection of Bess Houdini ever to be made public.

18 comments:

  1. This is quite amazing. I love that she talked about this private entertainment event because she had been there. Just great stuff! Wonderful job John.

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    1. Thanks Dean. Hope it's cool that I included your newspaper clipping.

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  2. I couldn't make out the last part--something about a coming storm and Houdini was sick? I wonder if they took some type of passenger ship to get to Rhode Island.

    Interesting that Marie said Houdini performed his escape from the packing case and afterwards did magic for the guests. The newspaper account has it the other way around.

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    1. One of them has it reversed. Frankly, I'd trust a 93-year-old woman more than most newspaper reporters. :p

      Yeah, the story in the end is a little unclear, but what I hear is on the way over (via a ferry maybe?) they were in a storm and Houdini showed Marie and Bess how he would save them on his back if the boat capsized. I think he showed how he could carry them both on his back at the same time.

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  3. Some people online claim that Houdini performed at Rosecliff, another mansion less than a mile away from Belcourt: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosecliff. Herman Oelrichs (one of the "committee" mentioned in the news clipping) lived there, so I can see where the confusion comes from. Another great entry, John!

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    1. I noticed that. Maybe he performed there as well? Or maybe it got confused with Belcourt over the years.

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  4. Its brings back memories of my grandmother
    I remember. Those story, thanks Jon

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  5. Its funny that Houdini could do all escapes, But he got sea sick all the time when he traveled.

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    1. It was truly his Kryptonite. He said even the sight of a boat in a harbor would make him sick.

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  6. Just wonderful. This web site is the best! I wish you could come across something similar that would be a first hand account of a Houdini performance. I've read every book and watched every video concerning Houdini over the years but still can't visualize his typical prime performance....what he said, how he said it, his movements on stage, audience reaction etc.

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    1. Yes, I wish we had something like that!

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    2. I am not sure if you have ever seen these but here are a couple of Houdini's performances. Remember some were silent and Houdini just preforms his escapes without speaking.
      http://www.magictricks.com/houdini-videos.html

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    3. You should get the Houdini The Movie Star DVD set. It has these clips and more. I have some HH escape footage -- again from Jon Oliver -- that has never been seen. I will post at some point.

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  7. I've seen all the films of Houdini aside from the full Pathe film back in 1904.

    Randi it seems was in with people who saw and knew Houdini back in the 50s before they all past away. It would be great to sit down with him or someone like him who may have a great minds eye as to what it was like to see Houdini in his prime. John I am sure could ask all the questions Houdini fanatics would like asked.

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    1. So you've seen The Grim Game? I'm envious.

      Did you see my post of the picture Randi took of Houdini's sister in 1957? It would indeed be interesting to interview he specifically about Houdini and whatever untold info he may have discovered in those days. Randi is a great guy and very approachable, so maybe that can happen.

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  8. Sorry....I did not mean to imply that I saw the grim game. What I am saying is that I've been a Houdini nut for 40 years and have seen all the typical film clips etc. Im still not grasping what it was like to watch Houdini live in his prime. Would love to have someone who is a Houdini fanatic ask Randi the kind of questions Houdini fanatics want answered. Do you think there is anyone still living that watched Houdini perform?

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  9. The principle Belmont estate at that time was By-the-Sea, as Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, 2nd husband of Alva Vanderbilt Belmont and owner of Belcourt, was dead in 1908. See this link for more about the mansion and its proximity to the cliff and ocean here:
    http://www.newportmansions.org/learn/history-highlights/lost-newport/1856-1865

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    1. Ah, thanks. So did I grab a pic and link to the wrong Belmont estate?

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