Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bess originally planned Final Houdini Seance as a "hunt for magician ghosts"

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This article from The Fresno Bee Republican dated April 24, 1936, reveals an early and intriguing concept for what became the Final Houdini Seance on the roof of Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood on Halloween of that year. Here we see Bess originally planned to hold the seance on a mountaintop, "as near the heaves as possible", and the idea was to not only contact Houdini, but Howard Thurston and Charles Carter as well!

Says Bess, "Now that Houdini, Carter and Thurston have joined forces on the other side of the grave, I am going to make, here in Hollywood, the one supreme effort to contact these great magicians and maybe together one of them may 'come through'."

While the "Final Houdini Seance" has come down as a sincere last attempt to contact the great magician -- and Edward Saint did insist it be a legitimate seance without trickery -- the truth is the seance was largely conceived as a publicity stunt to further Houdini's name and legend, and also goose Hollywood into making a Houdini biopic with Bess and Ed Saint involved in the production.

It both these regards, it was successful. The seance garnered headlines across the country, and Bess and Ed where able to make a development deal for a Houdini biopic at Paramount, as well as an independent starring vehicle for Bess herself.

Looks like Carter and Thurston got left behind.

Related:

7 comments:

  1. I remember hearing something about Thurston/Carter also being contacted, or the desire to contact them on a Houdini Special years ago. I'm not sure which special, but I believe the mention was that Houdini had pacts with Thurston and Carter to contact them after his death, or something along those lines. It's been a long time so I dont recall fully, but it's probably this article you mention above where the info came from.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The mountaintop I knew about, but this Carter/Thurston bit is new to me.

      Yeah, the article does talk about how they all had a compact to try and contact each.

      Delete
  2. Let have seance on a moutain top try to contact them.

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  3. Who in the world could have played him? Especially at Paramount? Maybe they could have borrowed Paul Muni from Warners?

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    Replies
    1. You can find the answer to that and a lot more HERE (Paul Muni was actually once considered).

      Delete
  4. Seem to remember in the back of my mind a picture story in a magazine like Look or Life mentioning this.
    Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz
    The Houdini Museum
    Scranton, PA

    ReplyDelete
  5. Knew it was familiar. Checked our files.

    Here is a different version on this page...

    http://houdini.org/seance.html

    I still remember yet another story. Will keep looking

    Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz
    The Houdini Museum

    ReplyDelete

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