Monday, August 17, 2015

Houdini Headquarters

Here's another incredible unpublished image from the collection of the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan. This shows Houdini dealing with his correspondence, presumably somewhere inside 278. This is the only glimpse I've ever seen of what could be called "Houdini Headquarters."


The man on the left side of the photo is Bess's brother, John Rahner. The woman on the far right appears to match photos of Julia Sawyer. I'm unsure of the identity of the young woman in the center. Possibly Julie Karcher.

Thanks to Keli Hindenach of the American Museum of Magic. This photo was supplied to the museum by Jon Oliver.

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12 comments:

  1. Fantastic! This looks to be part of a photo session taken at 278. Photographers who visited HH's home never took just one photo. Another photograph from that day is located in Secret Life. That one is just a portrait photo of HH.

    Check out those typewriters! They look like the one Annie Wilkes purchased for Paul Sheldon in Stephen King's Misery novel.

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    1. Good catch. I love that pic in Secret Life. I believe I've used it here somewhere.

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  2. any idea of who is in the picture on the wall behind Houdini?

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  3. Behind Julia Sawyer you can see framed letters that include photos of possibly their authors. HH didn't have any more room in his office wall and just hung them on the side of the filing cabinet. One of the girls put her Harry Potter glasses on the table. I'm also trying to figure out the identity of the fellow in that framed picture behind HH.

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  4. BTW, I should point out that Jon Oliver says that woman on the far right is Julie Karcher, not Julia Sawyer, and Jon knows his stuff. However, there are very good photos of both women in Silverman and the woman identified in those pics as Julia Sawyer (on one it's written in Bessie's own handwriting) clearly matches the woman on the right. So I'm using those as my source to ID her as Sawyer. But know there's a dispute.

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  5. Yeah, the woman on the far right looks like Julia Sawyer to me, based on what I see in Silverman. The girl on the left could be Karcher, but hard to be sure. Karcher's wearing a lot of stage make-up in those Silverman photos and she's a bit further away in those shots.

    This photo took quite a beating, HH almost lost his right ear. But I'm glad it made it to us.

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    1. The girl in this pic looks very young to me, and she doesn't really look like the pics of Karcher in Silverman. But it's hard to tell.

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  6. John, thank you for remembering me. It was both Ruth Kavanaugh (who gave me the photo) and Dorothy Young who said Little Julia (Sawyer) was next to Houdini, and Karcher on the right. Both women knew the 2 Julies
    well. Silvermen never saw either alive, And as for his (Silvermans) reading
    ability, he lost a lot of credibility when he published thoughts many pages
    of a diary from Mrs London, containing references to an affair with Houdini. Some how h h on one page turned in magical lover and more, supposedly about Houdini.

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  7. The woman next to Houdini looks like the woman in the photo of Hardeen showing the interior of the "Radio from 1950" years after Houdini's death.

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  8. Hard to tell. The girl in the Hardeen "Radio from 1950" photo looks like she has big eyes. A pretty doe eyed Italian girl.

    Still no word on the identity of the man in the portrait behind HH. I've been perusing through books on the history of magic but no luck yet. This mystery portrait may not be of a magician. That widens the playing field.

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    1. The girl in the Hardeen pic is Gladys Hardeen. I don't really see a resemblance.

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