Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Houdini's other elephants

Chuck Romano at My Magic Uncle has uncovered an interesting account of Houdini's 1922 performance at the Time Square Theater in New York. Houdini appeared in conjunction with his movie The Man From Beyond, and for the occasion he revived his vanishing elephant illusion. It's been said Houdini used a smaller elephant for this venue, but according to this clipping, Houdini actually used two!

Of his two elephants, only Lucy came on for her act. Fanny was captivated by the bright lights of Broadway and refused to enter the Times Square Theatre. Meanwhile, Lucy suffered from an attack of temperament and liberal rations of gum drops were necessary before she could be induced to do her act."

I love that we get the names here, Fanny and Lucy. Also, Fanny refusing to enter the theater recalls this post from last year: "A story that never has been told."

Check out the full article at My Magic Uncle where Chuck also has several other interesting Houdini related posts.

UPDATE: In The Sphinx [Vol 21 No. 3 May 15 1922] Clinton Burgess reported:

"…This is the same illusion Houdini presented with such success at the New York Hippodrome and is startler of the first water. While the cabinet of enclosure used to house or temporarily imprison the elephant prior to its mysterious disappearance is roomy enough inside to accommodate a large elephant, is was only rarely that the large one in readiness for the effect would enter the theatre owing to its extreme timidity over the glare of the footlights. On this occasion it was necessary to use another but somewhat smaller elephant, loaned to Houdini through the courtesy of John Ringling. This elephant is named ‘Baby’, while the larger one is called ‘Fannie Ringling.’ "

Thanks to Joe Notaro.

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2 comments:

  1. Very interesting find by Chuck!
    According to Notes on Houdini’s Vanishing Elephant by Patrick Culliton:
    Houdini performed at the Times Square Theatre in April, 1922, as part of a live stage show that he presented in conjunction with opening of his motion picture The Man From Beyond. Clinton Burgess reported in Sphinx [Vol 21 No. 3 May 15 1922]:
    “… The follows Houdini’s original startling and daring illusion, “The Disappearing Elephant.” This is the same illusion Houdini presented with such success at the New York Hippodrome and is startler of the first water. While the cabinet of enclosure used to house or temporarily imprison the elephant prior to its mysterious disappearance is roomy enough inside to accommodate a large elephant, is was only rarely that the large one in readiness for the effect would enter the theatre owing to its extreme timidity over the glare of the footlights. On this occasion it was necessary to use another but somewhat smaller elephant, loaned to Houdini through the courtesy of John Ringling. This elephant is named ‘Baby’, while the larger one is called ‘Fannie Ringling.’ “

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    1. Thanks Joe. I knew I had read the name Fannie somewhere (spelled that way). I skimmed Pat's The Key, but didn't pull out his Notes. I should have.

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