Monday, May 22, 2017

How Houdini didn't vanish an elephant

As a follow up to my post about the German Houdini booklet and Modern Mechanic' bogus explanation of Walking Through A Brick Wall, I thought I'd share that magazine's equally incorrect explanation of Houdini's vanishing elephant. This appeared in the December 1929 issue as the conclusion of a three part series by the mysterious "R.D. Adams."

Unlike Walking Through A Brick Wall, we actually don't know for certain how Houdini vanished his elephant. But we know it wasn't as shown above. In fact, even the presentation is incorrect here. Houdini vanished his elephant from a large cabinet, not from behind a screen. The best theories of how Houdini may have accomplished this feat appear in Jim Steinmeyer's brilliant Hiding The Elephant and Patrick Culliton's essential Houdini The Key.

Curiously, even though "R.D. Adams" offered explanations that today appear to be false, both Leonard Hicks and Houdini's close friend Joseph Rinn claimed Adams' did indeed reveal the correct methods.



  1. "Huge roller spring pulls up curtain in flash while audience blinks eyes when magician fires gun." LOL! Boy! He had everything timed to a "T", didn't he? Why, he even knew when the audience was most apt to blink, & did all his dirty work at those points. ROTFL! :D

  2. I don't consider Steinmeyer and Culliton's explanation of Houdini's Vanishing Elephant to be theories. I think they're spot on. The HH Elephant Vanish was an evolution of Charles Morritt's Disappearing Donkey.

    1. Well, until we know for certain, by definition any explanation has to be consider a theory. Heck, we don't even know what the cabinet looked like. A photo of that could change everything. But I accept their explanations as almost certainly correct.



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