Sunday, February 15, 2015

Houdini's open grave

File this one under macabre, but while watching The Miracle Factory's new Houdini Captured on Film DVD compilation the other night, I spotted this among the footage of his funeral. As you can see, the camera affords a quick but clear shot of Houdini's open grave in the family plot at Machpelah Cemetery. This is moments before the casket arrives. Wild.


The footage also gives us a good look at the exedra on the day of the funeral. What's interesting is it doesn't yet have the Houdini bust, nor does it have the Society of American Magicians mosaic emblem. The bust I understand; it needed to be cast. But one wonders exactly when the S.A.M. symbol was added and whether it was Houdini's idea?


Maybe the origin of the mosaic -- which is beautiful work -- is something the S.A.M. will investigate as part of their upcoming restoration of the grave site.

Related:

11 comments:

  1. Another episode of Houdini's Tales from the Crypt...

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  2. Obviously at one time the entire burial was filmed....perhaps by several cameras. Maybe one day it will resurface in its entirety. In the historical films site there is a camera shooting from above probably from the second floor of the building that until recently stood at the cemetery entranceway. Another at ground level besides the building and finally another near the grave that took the above and the clip that shows the coffin being lowered into the ground. Where is all this footage?

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    1. Hard to know what survived. This clips were probably shot by newsreel cameramen. Who knows how much they shot, developed, or what was saved apart from what they used.

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  3. JOHN COX: THIS OPEN GRAVE OF HARRY HOUDINI'S BARIIAL AND HIS BELOVED LOVED ONES AND CLOSE FAMILY MEMBER'S IS SACRADE TO ME AND MY FAMILY AND TODD KARRS HAS NO RESPECT FOR MY PICTURES AND CORPORATION HOUDINI PICTURES CORPORTATION AND DOS NOT HAVE MY PERMISSION OR ANY LEGAL RIGHT TO MAKE MONEY FROM MY PICTURES OR ANY AUDIO RECOORDINGS OF MY PICTURE FILMS THAT I MADE WITH MY BELOVDED WIFE BESS HOUDINI; i HAVE GIVEN HIM AND HIS COMPANY A WRITTEN WARRNING TO STOP USING MY MOVIES OR PICTURES THAT i OWN; SIGNED ; HARRY HOUDINI , 02,19,,2015

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    1. Good to hear from you, Harry. We've been waiting a long time for you. Especially glad to see you've gone into the Natural Health and Wellness business. Be well, good spirit!

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  4. John - The MUM (newsletter of the Society of American Magicians) published in the Sphinx magazine of October, 1927, noted under "Committees" reports of the Parent Assembly meeting held October 1:
    "Houdini Monument (Committee members) (Oscar) Teale, (Elmer) Ransom, and (Gustav) Laurens reported having arranged for the Society to participate at a ceremony, unveiling a monument to Houdini, Sunday, October 30, 1927 at 1 p.m. at Macpellah (sic) Cemetery, Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, N.Y. Secretary instructed to notify local members on reply postals (postcards) that arrangements for transportation and other details may be perfected."

    So the monument with bust and mosaic were unveiled at that time. It was the Society's idea. As you may know, when unveiled, the mosaic had the inscription "M.I. (Most Illustrious) President - 1917-1927" (since Houdini had been elected to the 1926-27 term as President of the SAM.) Eventually, someone pointed out that he was not alive in 1927, so the inscribed "1927" had the final number re-chiseled to form a (sort-of) "6", which is why it looks odd today.

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    1. Excellent, thank you, David. I always suspected the mosaic was revealed along with the bust in '27, but I didn't know for sure. You got to wonder what Houdini would have thought about that. He was certainly obsessed with his own grave and the family plot (having designed it himself). He was clearly proud of his association and work with the SAM, but would he have wanted their emblem on the family grave? But I guess it's a nice tribute by the SAM and, like I said, the mosaic is beautiful work. And I'm sure the SAM cleared it with Bess and Hardeen (wasn't Dash the president at that time?)

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  5. You can see where they have built up the area surrounding the grave with dirt (eventually to fill it) and have put what looks like a wooden platform by which family members would stand. Amazing photos. This web site provides more and more never seen before information. I would like to finally settle whether Houdini was buried in a glass topped coffin. The lining we know is glass topped but the outer coffin is still a mystery. I assume since it would be covered by tons of dirt that it would not be glass topped. However this would not be the case if Houdinis coffin was encased in a vault. Do we know if this is the case?

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    1. Thanks Anon.

      We don't really know about the coffin. I take it you saw the other posts bout this (both listed in the Related Posts above)? One gives a look at the coffin without flowers as it's being set above the grave. But hard to confirmed whether it's glass.

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  6. According to a reliable source on my website, the Boyertown Cast Bronze Casket was placed in a concrete burial vault. See link below for more details. http://harryhoudinicircumstantialevidence.com/?p=2443

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