Sunday, November 30, 2014

Extreme Escapes debuts on REELZ


A new series called Extreme Escapes is airing on REELZ. The series was originally to be called Sons of Houdini. Shame they changed the name. Here's a description;

Each one-hour episode of Extreme Escapes brings the shock, wonder and danger of escapology to television with astonishing performances by artists including America’s Got Talent contestant Spencer Horsman, Masters of Illusion LIVE! performer Farrell Dillon, Las Vegas Laugh Factory’s headlining comic magician Murray Sawchuck and his counterpart Jan Rouven and Hungarian escape artist David Merlini. In Extreme Escapes top escape masters challenge the laws of physics in unbelievable stunts performed all around the world including magician Brandy LaPlante attempting to be the first woman to complete the insane car drop escape before being crushed and magician Michael Turco’s attempt at a mobster-style challenge where he’s shackled, put in cement shoes and tossed to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Other daring stunts attempted include illusionist Jonathan Pendragon putting himself in the line of fire for a dangerous and often deadly feat—attempting to catch a speeding bullet. The series also features a precarious escape set in China where internationally acclaimed illusionist Franz Harary must break free from the chains binding him to railroad tracks in the face of a powerful locomotive.

You'll notice that that among the Extreme Escapes escape artists is David Merlini who was the technical advisor on HISTORY's Houdini miniseries. The show's technical advisor is Gay Blackstone.

Learn more about Extreme Escapes at the REELZ website.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Becoming Beyond


Only a few weeks after Houdini announced the formation of his new Houdini Picture Corporation in April 1921, he announced his first film. But what we now know as The Man From Beyond originally carried a very different title. On April 16, 1921, the Boston Post announced:


The title The Far North might have been an attempt by Houdini to link his film in the minds of moviegoers to the popular 1920 D.W. Griffith movie, Way Down East. That hit film also featured a climax in the which the hero saves the heroine from river rapids and a waterfall. Later publicity would repeatedly liken Houdini's own Niagara Falls climax to that of Way Down East, touting it as being even more exciting. The two films even had similar posters. So maybe it's not a coincidence that, in the beginning at least, they had similar titles.


It appears Houdini's film carried The Far North title well into production. The clip below is from The Coffeyville Daily dated June 3, 1921:


However, a quote from Houdini himself while filming in Niagara Falls a month earlier suggests that The Far North might have only ever been a working title and the real title was being kept secret:


When the film was completed in June, the final title was revealed as The Man From Beyond. This is the earliest mention I could find from the Brooklyn Eagle on July 20, 1921:


The Man From Beyond wasn't the only Houdini movie to undergo a title change during production. The Grim Game was originally called Circumstantial Evidence and Terror Island was Salvage. Interestingly, when Houdini announced his next Houdini Picture Corporation production on July 26, 1921, it was with the "temporary" title Haldane of the Secret Service. But this turned out to be the one title that took.


Thanks to Joe Notaro for alerting me to this alternate title on his blog Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence.

Related:

Friday, November 28, 2014

AHC separates Houdini facts vs. fiction


Houdini is the subject of a new episode of America: Facts vs. Fiction called "Masters of Illusion" (Season 2, Episode 8). The episode also features P.T. Barnum and premiered November 25 on AHC (American Heroes Channel).

The episode primarily debunks the myths that physical abnormalities aided Houdini's escapes (such as the ability to dislocated his shoulder), that he was trapped under ice during a bridge jump, and the belief that he died in his Water Torture Cell. However, their conclusion that the Whitehead punch did not cause Houdini's fatal appendicitis is still debatable.

Houdini is portrayed in the reenactments by James Christopher Crooke (above). The episode also features clips from Haldane of the Secret Service, The Man From Beyond, Terror Island, and Houdini (1953).

The show was well done and the focus on facts is a welcome change from the shameless myth-making of shows like Brad Meltzer's Decoded and, of course, that recent effort by our friends at HISTORY.

You can buy America: Facts vs. Fiction: Masters of Illusion as a download on Amazon.

Related posts:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Houdini Escape

Need a distraction to help you digest? Thanksgiving Houdini Escape is a new online point and click game developed by ENA Games. The object is to free Houdini who is stuck inside his Milk Can. It takes three keys to unlock the can. Can you solve the puzzles and save Harry in time?



HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Kreskin's unpublished Houdini book

Here's a curiosity I came across in The Times from April 2, 1975. According to this column, The Amazing Kreskin was writing a Houdini biography in 1975. The book was tentatively titled The Other Side of Houdini -- A Story That Has Never Been Told, and was to be published by Random House. Have a read below.

Click to enlarge.

I do like how Kreskin refers to Houdini as a "scientist-entertainer." Houdini would have loved that. The fact that he had contact with Houdini's "relatives, friends and associates" suggests that he could have had some gold here. (I actually never knew the famous mentalist was such a Houdini buff.)

It's a shame Kreskin's "never told" Houdini story never got told. But maybe it's not too late?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Houdini grave restoration update


The Houdini grave restoration project is moving forward. Our friends Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz of the Houdini Museum in Scranton report that estimates are being taken on the mosaic repair, and conversations are taking place about restoring the headstones of Gladys and Leopold. Dorothy and Dick are overseeing the project along with The Society of American Magicians.

Says Dorothy: "The Society of American Magicians [brought in] mosaic artist Kim Hogan to go to the grave and make an estimate of what would be needed to repair the SAM mosaic there. She also brought the president of a large glass supplier to help check with color matching, which is of great concern to the management of the cemetery and The Society of American Magicians."

As to the missing headstones for Gladys and Leopold, Dorothy says the plan is to get the stones back in place by early Spring 2015.

Thank you Dorothy and Dick for the update. This is going to be an exciting project to follow!

UPDATE: CLICK HERE to read an AP story about the restoration effort.

    Literary Orphans "Houdini" is live

    The latest issue of Literary Orphans online literary journal is titled "Houdini" and celebrates the great escapist on the cover. Edited by Mike Joyce, "Houdini" (Issue 16) contains collected works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, art, and interviews. It is live now through February at www.literaryorphans.org.


    Below is some promotional artwork for Houdini Issue 16 from the Literary Orphans Facebook page.

    Monday, November 24, 2014

    Houdini gets a bad rap

    It's amazing how many modern musicians and pop stars find inspiration in the decidedly non-musical Houdini, whose favorite song was Auld Lang Syne and idea of stage music was Pomp & Circumstance. Now Long Beach rapper "and style-maker" Rajh Kirch has caught the Houdini bug, as he tells the Long Beach Post:

    The flip of “Antidote” is Magic, the album itself: the album hopes to show how hip hop and creativity revolve around magic-making, about making something insanely complex look easy. Which is why Kirch is momentarily obsessed with Houdini, introduced to him by art director and co-director for the “Antidote” video, Bro Brum.

    “Brum showed me some vintage Houdini poster art where he's locked in chains,” Kirch said. “It was sort of comic book-ish and that's what inspired the fashion styling and the chain shots for the video. ‘A man that cannot be bound!’ I interpret the song as something about escaping adversaries and personal demons. Houdini was an escape artist. Voila.”

    Finding his inner Robert DeNiro, Kirch delved into researching Houdini like an actor, discovering what he claims are parallels between each of them. In Houdini’s brilliant sense of business and understanding of his audience, there was always a sense of, “What’s next?”—a sensation that Kirch feels he always strives for as an entertainer as well as key to Magic’s overall theme.

    The Houdinis 1924 Christmas card

    A magnificent Christmas postcard sent out by Harry and Bess Houdini sold on eBay over the weekend for $355. The card has the original stamp and postmark of December 23, 1924.


    This card image appears undated in Gibson's The Original Houdini Scrapbook.

    Related:

    Sunday, November 23, 2014

    German Houdini (1953) program

    This original German movie program for Paramounts 1953 Houdini biopic starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh recently sold at an eMoviePoster auction for a modest $35. Houdini was released in (West) Germany on March 18, 1954.


    Friday, November 21, 2014

    How I learned to love the Houdini miniseries


    You know those annoying romantic comedies in which the characters start off hating each other, but then slowly begin to fall in love despite themselves? And then there's that moment when the girl comes down the stairs in her beautiful new dress, and the boy sees her as if for the first time and he's suddenly head over heels. Well, I think that's what's happening with me and the Houdini miniseries, and I think I had my down the stairs moment with the extended edition DVD, or what screenwriter Nicholas Meyer calls, the "Lionsgate version."

    The villain in this story is (still) the HISTORY channel. Showing a drastically edited and severely compromised version in the U.S. on September 1st & 2nd (also included on the DVD) did not help love bloom. The network let down the audience and the filmmakers by showing us something that I would call unfinished. While some of the cuts were small, they were critical, and I'd even say the filmmakers' work and intentions were totally misrepresented by the network. We should never have seen that version of Houdini.

    For starters, the extended version starts with this disclaimer:

    What you are about to see is FACT.
    It is also FICTION.
    We defy you to tell the difference...

    It's hard for me to say for certain, but had I seen this disclaimer on the original broadcast, I might have written a very different review back in September. Because with this the filmmakers not only announce their approach, but they also announce the tone. The disclaimer doesn't come off as arrogant. It seems playful; almost like the start of a magic performance. It reminds me of the disclaimer attached to Meyer's Sherlock Holmes adventure, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, which read: "The story is true…only the facts have been made up."

    So from the start, we now know we are going to get a story that is fact and fiction, told by Houdini himself, and if you accept the challenge to tell the difference, you'll notice there are clues along the way. For example, when the miniseries goes into its spy movie mode, the music changes significantly. I didn't notice this the first time. I just felt that the miniseries had made a sudden and silly lurch into fiction, and I felt betrayed by what I had been told was a "biopic." But in this version, with the disclaimer and challenge in my head, I noted the musical shift as a clue that we were entering a fantasy moment. Suddenly I was watching Haldane of the Secret Service, and now I was seeing Houdini (the storyteller) work his silent movie spy fantasies into his real life story. That's fun. Maybe I am reading too much into this and giving the filmmakers too much credit…but, damn, this is a whole different girl coming down those stairs!

    Because the extended miniseries now has a scene in which it's specifically stated that Martin Beck arranged for Houdini's European tour, this also made the spy narrative more palatable. Without the mention of Beck, the entire trip to Europe appeared to be a concoction of the U.S. government, and that was too big a pill to swallow. But now we are giving the facts and the fiction in much the same way it's laid out in the book, The Secret Life of Houdini, from which all this derives (again, this book should have been credited as the source).

    This extended version also seems to have an entirely different pace. The frenetic editing seems to have been removed, or at least reduced. Certainly there are very noticeable extensions to scenes. The Houdinis' wedding night bedroom scene is now longer, and I love the moment when Harry discovers that Bess's curls are just a wig. We also see a quick scene in which Bess's mother angrily slaps her and throws her out of the house for marrying a Jew. This helps us better understand her demons and her later behavior when she turns her mother's words back on Harry. Overall, you get more time with the actors, small but critical connections are made, and the experience is much more enjoyable.

    One very big difference is that the break between Part One and Part Two is completely different. In HISTORY's version, Part One takes us all the way to the bridge jump and Houdini becoming trapped under the ice. They go for the life and death cliffhanger (which we already know will resolve). But in the extended version, Part One ends with Houdini learning his box-office is slipping and his angry outburst: "I write the writing!" This version ends on a career turning point, and it's much less certain how or if it will resolve. Part Two then opens with Harry watching a Charlie Chaplin movie, the future, and he begins to work on his response. It's so much more effective.

    I always liked Part Two, so there was no dramatic conversion for me here. Part Two is still largely fact-based and strong. But a bonus is that we now get to see Arthur Ford (played by Alexis Latham) along with Bessie's doll collection at the end. And Bess's line to Ford, "You're pretty," is nicely chilling. (The real Bess said of Ford that he was "just so handsome.")

    Are there still things I dislike? Absolutely. There are still dozens of sloppy inaccuracies in regards to dates and details, and all the points I made in my Fact Checks still stand. I hate that Meyer fictionalized how and when Houdini became famous. I'm still offended by the revelation of magic secrets (expect for Walking Through A Brick Wall, which I think serves a narrative purpose). I'm also now even less in love with John Debney's bombastic, contemporary score, which I think cheapens this better version of the movie. In fact, I think it's telling that the music on the DVD menu isn't Debney, and it sets the mood so much better.

    I also wish they would have taken the time to correct the misspelling of "Erich" to Ehrich in the subtitles. I still bristle at moving Houdini's home to Brooklyn instead of Harlem (why!?). But I guess those warts will always be there.

    So, yes, all of a sudden these two characters who hated each other are now a kissing couple, and I'm sure there are plenty who will find this disgusting. Maybe I'm crazy and none of what I said above is there. Maybe this is still the same monster who offended me and I insulted in return. But I can't go back from that moment at the foot of the stairs. Yes, I now see a beautiful new Houdini movie before me. But love is blind.


    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    The WILD ABOUT HARRY Press

    A Brief History of Houdini's Water Torture Cell is the first publication of what I'm calling the WILD ABOUT HARRY Press. This is a 15 page illustrated eBook version of my post about the famous escape that ran on the 100th Anniversary. You can still read that post HERE for free. This is for those who want a standalone version for their Kindle library. It's also an experiment.

    For some time I've been thinking about offering this blog in some kind of a printed version, and this is my first baby step into the world of self-publishing. While this is an eBook only release (it's too short for a printed edition), I'm planning my next WILD ABOUT HARRY Press offering to be in both eBook and print editions.

    Eventually, what I plan to do is offer a series of printed annual YEARBOOKS containing every post within a specific year. These will contain not just all the posts and photos, but also all the internal links and comments (which in some cases are more interesting and insightful than the posts themselves!). I think this will be a great way to archive this blog and provide a helpful research tool.

    So head on over to Amazon and have a look at my page for A Brief History of Houdini's Water Torture Cell. If you are an eBooker, maybe grab a copy and help me with this latest experiment. Thanks as always to everyone for their support.

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    LINK: Houdini and his niece have NC connection

    Click the headline to read an article by Teresa Leonard at the Past Times Blog about Houdini in North Carolina and the connection the state has with his niece Marie Blood.

    Related:

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles Book 2

    The second book in Marty Chan's The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles, Infinity Coil, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. The book is due for release on March 1, 2015. Here's a description:

    Ehrich Weisz, Demon Hunter was introduced to steampunk fans in Demon Gate. Now, he is continuing his increasingly desperate quest to rescue his brother in an alternate universe in the sequel, Infinity Coil.

    Now a fugitive from Demon Watch, young Ehrich Weisz hides in the underbelly of an alternate New York where immigrants from other dimensions mingle among Americans. Amid growing racial tensions, Ehrich searches for Kifo, the man who stole his brother's mind and locked it inside an ancient medallion. He poses as a stage magician to draw out Kifo's next target—the commissioner of Demon Watch. In the wings, an army awaits Kifo to accomplish his mission so interdimensional soldiers can invade New York. Ehrich is willing to risk the outbreak of war to save his brother, but he must decide whether or not he can betray his friends.

    Pre-order The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles: Infinity Coil at Amazon.com. You can also still purchase Book 1, Demon Gate.

    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Houdini biography from India

    The mighty Arthur Moses has uncovered a Houdini biography from India published in 2013. The book runs 96 pages with over 24 photos and is written in Tamil. The title translates to: Houdini The Magician.


    Arthur has added this to his growing collection of Houdini foreign language books. But he has also made an extra copy available on eBay HERE.

    'Bound By Flesh' streaming on Netflix

    Bound By Flesh, the 2012 documentary about conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton, is now streaming on Netflix. Houdini was friends with the young Hilton sisters and gave them advice during their time in Vaudeville. The documentary mentions Houdini and includes recordings of the sisters talking about the advice the magician gave them.

    In their heyday, the Hilton Sisters were Vaudeville superstars who earned a weekly salary that was as high as Houdini's. This documentary tells their strange and somewhat tragic story.

    You can watch Bound By Flesh on Netflix or buy the DVD from Amazon. For more information visit the official website.

    Thanks to Steve Bingen for the alert. Check out Steve's new book, Warner Bros: Hollywood's Ultimate Backlot.

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

    Ehrich Weiss book pulls a Houdini

    An 1856 edition of The Confessions by J.J. Rousseau inscribed by its owner "Ehrich Weiss" magically blew past its estimate of $1,000-1,200 and sold for a healthy $13,800 (including the 15% buyers premium) in today's Haversat & Ewing Galleries magic auction. The buyer's ID name was "Copperfield", which is either someone being cute, or it really was the magic man (he did win most of the high-end lots).


    It's pretty rare to see an Ehrich Weiss signature of any kind come up for auction. What's especially interesting here is the date of 1893. This is two years into his professional career as "Harry Houdini", yet he still thinks of himself as Ehrich Weiss. Perhaps the act of getting married the following year was what finally made him shed his boyhood name.

    Overall, the Houdini items did extremely well, with most selling for well above their estimates. The Houdini Bible fetched $6,238. A Houdini lock pick unlocked $3,018. A letter that mentions H.P. Lovecraft went for $2,817. A rare Dutch advertising card sold for $2,213. A pair of leg-irons grabbed $2,415. (All prices include the 15% buyers premium.)

    The lot that I was after (but didn't win) was a Souvenir Program from Houdini's 3 Shows In One. While these aren't particularly rare (and there was a nice reproduction done by Lee Jacobs in 1979) what drew me to this program were the words: "Coast to Coast Tour - Season 1926-27" on the cover. I don't recall ever seeing this on one of these programs before. The fact that Houdini's second season was to be a "coast to coast tour" (his first season didn't travel beyond Illinois) is also a new piece of information to me. Presumably, this would have meant a stop in Los Angeles, which would have been his first appearance in LA since 1923. I wonder what theater he would have played?

    Congrats to all the winners, and to Haversat & Ewing for another successful magic auction.

    Related:

    Capital One "Houdini" ad

    This Capital One ad aired during the Houdini miniseries back in September. I never got a chance to report on this at the time, so I'm happy to discover that it's been posted to the Pacific Motion Control website, where you can also read about how it was made.


    Friday, November 14, 2014

    The Midwest Magic History Weekend


    David Charvet has announced that he will be hosting The Midwest Magic History Weekend on May 28-30, 2015 in Marshall Michigan. The event will be held in cooperation with the American Museum of Magic which will offer attendees a special behind-the-scenes tour of rare museum artifacts and their incredible research library that is not open to the public.

    In addition, the 3 days will be filled with speakers on a variety of historical magic subjects; a private day tour to Colon, Michigan, "The Magic Capital of the World" and home to Abbott's Magic Company. The day in Colon also includes a visit to "Blackstone Island," home to the famed illusionist.

    Full program details and speakers have not yet been announced, but I have a feeling this will be a convention Houdini fans will enjoy (recall that the American Museum of Magic owns a Houdini-Hardeen Mik Can).

    You can find more details and register at the official website: MagicHistoryWeekend.com. There is also a dedicated Facebook page.

    Thursday, November 13, 2014

    Haversat & Ewing auction goes live on Saturday

    The next big magic auction from Haversat & Ewing Galleries goes live this Saturday, November 15. There are over 15 lots related to Houdini this time, including one of Houdini's trick Bibles (Lot #150).

    Manufactured to Houdini's specifications, the Bible is handed to a spectator who is asked to turn to any page and silently read a selection of their choice. Houdini would then automatically know what words the spectator was reading. Approximately four of these trick bibles were made.

    The auction estimate is $7,000-$10,000. But the last time one of these Bibles came up for auction, it sold for $24,000, so this will be one to watch.

    CLICK HERE to view all the auction lots and to register to bid. Active bidding begins at 11:00 AM EST on Saturday, November 15, 2014. The first lot closes at 3:00 PM EST.

    Related:

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2

    Today sees the release of Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini issue #2 written by Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery with artwork by Carlos Furuzono. As with issue #1, Dynamite has released the graphic novel with different covers (below).

    After Harry Houdini's opening night performance is undone by a grotesque murder, he clashes with Sherlock Holmes when Holmes refuses to allow the legendary magician to help bring the perpetrator to justice. But the proud Houdini won't take 'no' for an answer, leading to an epic game of cat-and-mouse in London's dangerous streets.

    Purchase& Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2 at the Dynamite website or Amazon.com. Issue #3 will be released on December 10.

    Related:

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

    Flappers adopt Houdini

    Here's a great little news item from the Washington Times Sun dated August 20, 1922. I'm not sure I understand exactly how "Houdini" equates with being "on time for a date", but that's the young generation for you. Twenty-three skidoo!

    Click to enlarge.

    Of course, Houdini knew his way around a Flapper. Oh you kid.

    Flapper Bess.

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    The Houdinis by Ludwig Reiter

    Here's a unique "period" photo of Adrien Brody and Kristen Connolly as Harry and Bess Houdini that was not part of the regular Houdini publicity stills. This appears to have been taken either before or after filming of the miniseries as the actors are sporting different costumes and hairstyles. This comes from the website of Viennese shoemaker Ludwig Reiter (the caption points out that Brody is wearing Ludwig Reiter "Chelsea Boots"), so it appears to have been shot specifically for advertising purposes.


    The Houdini miniseries was released last month on DVD and Blu-ray and can be purchased at Amazon.com.

    Related:

    Sunday, November 9, 2014

    Rare Houdini pitchbook sells on eBay

    An uncommon edition of Houdini's standard pitchbook sold today on eBay for $801.68 (condition might have held this back from making even more). The auction says this was printed by The Caxton Press, Furnival Street, London, E.C. No date is given.

    Houdini's pitchbooks were issued with several different covers and contain wide varieties of subtle variations. The inside of this edition states: "Three Million of these Books in circulation since 1900, in various forms, Editions and Languages."

    Collector John Bushey has undertaken the task of collecting and/or documenting all of Houdini's pitchbooks (as well as those of his imitators) as part of his massive "pitchbook project." You can see many of those pitchbooks at John's site HERE.

    In 2012, a pitchbook with a Weed Chain cover sold in auction for $1,230. Houdini's very first pitchbook, Magic Made Easy, sold on eBay back in 2007 for $4,457.

    Related:

    Houdini and Randi

    Here's a clip from the documentary An Honest Liar about how Houdini influenced the life and art of James The Amazing Randi.


    Saturday, November 8, 2014

    Houdini at Yankee Gathering XV

    Yankee Gathering XV, the biennial convention of the New England Magic Collectors Association (NEMCA), concludes today in Westboro, MA. John Hinson is attending and has sent over these pics of three table displays filled with his original Houdini photos and memorabilia (some of these can be seen seen in our Unpublished Houdini series from last year). Nice to see the recently rediscovered "Dearest Vincent" Bessie letter back among John's collectibles. Click each photo to enlarge.


    Here are Houdini items on display from the collection of our good friend Jon Oliver.


    NEMCA has also released The Yankee Magic Collector #16. This latest issue includes Houdini articles by Arthur Moses (Houdini's "The Unmasking Of..."), Ron Cartlidge (The Harry Houdini Collection: Boxes 7-9 & 19), and William V. Rauscher (Houdini and the Hippodrome).

    For more information visit the New England Magic Collectors Association website.

    Friday, November 7, 2014

    The Houdini-Eisner connection

    Here's an item from the April 17, 1976 issue of The High Point Enterprise announcing the signing of Paul Michael Glaser as Houdini in the ABC biopic, The Great Houdinis. Why is this interesting? Because look who made the announcement: Michael D. Eisner.

    Click to enlarge.

    As Vice President, Program Planning and Development for ABC, Eisner would have been one of the key decision makers responsible for making The Great Houdinis happen. Until I found this clipping, I had no idea he was involved.

    Of course, Eisner went on to run the Walt Disney Company from 1984 to 2005 and became one of the most powerful men in show business. Interestingly, it was during Eisner's tenure that Disney produced Young Harry Houdini with Wil Wheaton. Eisner even personally introduced the movie on March 15, 1987 (view clip here).

    It appears the mighty Mr. Eisner understood the appeal and power of Houdini throughout his career.


    Related:

    Thursday, November 6, 2014

    DER GROSSE HOUDINI in Germany

    It's been a big year for Houdini in Germany. Not only did we see a major new documentary, but a new Houdini stage musical, DER GROSSE HOUDINI (The Great Houdini), premiered on October 24, 2014 at the Theater Hof in Hof, Germany.

    Houdini is played by Chris Murray (right). Bess is played by Cornelia Löhr. Christian Venzke plays Hardeen; Janelle Groos is Cecilia Weiss; Christian Venzke is Daisy White; and Andreas Bühring is Leopold Weiss. Book, music and lyrics are by Paul Graham Brown. Stage direction is by James Edward Lyons with musical direction by Kenneth Duryea.

    You can find more information (in German) at the Theatre Hof website. Below are pics from the production from the Theatre Hof Facebook page and video from YouTube.


    Wednesday, November 5, 2014

    Houdini le magicien

    La Cabane Magique, Tome 45: Houdini le magicien by Mary Pope Osborne is a new French translation of Hurry Up, Houdini released by Bayard jeunesse.

    The book tells the adventures of Tom and Leah who set out to discover the secret of Houdini's greatness. To help them, their guide Merlin gives them a brochure on Luna Park, a magic ring and a vial containing mist of Avalon. Will they meet their hero? You'll need to read French to find out.

    La Cabane Magique, Tome 45: Houdini le magicien can be purchased at the French Amazon.fr and well as Amazon.co.uk.

    Tuesday, November 4, 2014

    A fresh new Mirror Handcuff mystery

    There is currently a fresh new mystery surrounding Houdini famous Mirror Handcuff challenge of 1904 that has some of the best minds scratching their heads. It started with this article from a March 1904 issue of The Tatler that surfaced on eBay recently. The article not only shows a different Mirror Handcuff key, but on closer examination, it appears to be a different Mirror Handcuff entirely!

    If this is indeed a second working Mirror Handcuff, and the cuff that Houdini escaped from at the London Hippodrome in 1904, then it opens a fresh can of worms and raises a while host of new questions about the famous challenge.

    This article was uncovered by Ron Spitz and posted to the Handcuffs.Org forum where it's currently being hotly discussed. So if you want to weigh-in on this one, I would advise heading over there. (Be sure and check out the post by "Riley" on November 2 at 5:17 PM for a wild alternate theory of how Houdini pulled off the Mirror escape using these mystery cuffs.)

    Hopefully our good friend Mick Hanzlik, the man I turn to for all things Mirror related, will write a new Guest Blog for us with his own conclusions regarding what is now being called the "Tatler cuff." But even the mighty Mick seems somewhat perplexed at the moment by this new wrinkle in the Mirror story.


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