Friday, April 12, 2024

Own a replica Steel Straitjacket from Houdini '53


One of the standout escapes in the 1953 Houdini biopic is when Houdini frees himself from a "steel straitjacket." The steel straitjacket is a one-of-a-kind piece of magic apparatus provided by Joseph Dunninger. While I've never found any account of the real Houdini doing such an escape, it has become iconic in its own right.

Now, our friend Richard Sherry of Sherry and Krall Magic has manufactured a beautiful reproduction of the Steel Straitjacket. He has produced a limited run of only TEN jackets that can be purchased gaffed or ungaffed. And, as Tony/Houdini says, I'm sure he used "only the very best steel."

If interested, you can find pricing and details on Richard's website or email him at richard@richardsherrysmagic.com

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Houdini, Ragtime, and the Valentine


This month, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy a multi-layered Houdini experience in Toledo, Ohio. On April 19 & 21, the Toledo Opera will present the musical Ragtime with Evan Fleming as Houdini. But what makes this extra special is that the venue will be the Valentine Theater, where Houdini himself performed in 1906 and 1907. 

Toledo Blade, March 11, 1907.

But it gets better! The Valentine has a stunning mural by Paul Geiger in its lobby featuring famous performers who have graced the Valentine stage. Houdini is beautifully represented, as you can see in the top image above. So that's a must-see as well.

You can get more information and buy tickets to Ragtime via the Toledo Opera website. For more information about the Valentine and details about its mural, check out their website valentinetheatre.com.

Coincidently, I recently shared on my Patreon a post about a packing case challenge at the Valentine with a photo of Houdini in front of the theater that I've never seen before. You can see that by clicking below.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Houdini's Russian pitchbook has a new home

Our friend David Haversat has revealed via his newsletter that he is now the proud owner of Houdini's ultra-rare Russian pitchbook. These were created for Houdini's tour of Russia in 1903 and pre-date his America's Sensational Preplexer! pitchbook by several months. That makes this the very first (biographical) Houdini pitchbook.

To my knowledge, there are only two Russian pitchbooks in existence. The other is in David Copperfield's International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts in Las Vegas.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Houdini's eclipse

It's eclipse day! Where will you be to see (or partially see) today's total solar eclipse? Of course, my mind goes to Houdini. Did he ever see a total solar eclipse?

As it turns out, Houdini was in the right place at the right time to experience the famous total solar eclipse of January 24, 1925. The eclipse passed through New York State and through New York City just above 96th Street. Houdini was playing the New York Hippodrome at this time. It was reported that streetlights turned on, seagulls landed in the Hudson thinking it was night, and three women fainted. It was the first total eclipse to pass over New York since 1478. (The next will be in 2079.)

The wonderful image below of the 1925 eclipse was captured by photographer Adolf Fassbender in Bronx Park. This comes from the website New York Historical Society, where you can read more about the photo and photographer.


Houdini would also have experienced the eclipse of June 8, 1918 as a partial eclipse from New York City. September 10, 1923 was another total solar eclipse that Houdini would have experienced partially. He was performing in Memphis on that day.

You can watch today's eclipse track live on NASA's YouTube Channel. Remember, don't look directly at the sun!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Houdini Adaptations by Joe M. Notaro

Our good friend Joe Notaro is on a roll. Having released two groundbreaking Houdini books, The Zanetti Mystery and Houdini's Schooldays, Joe has now released Houdini Adaptations. This new work contains the rare adaptations of The Grim Game and Terror Island and much more. Below are details.
 
Arthur B. Reeve and Houdini worked on three silent film stories together, The Master Mystery (1918), The Grim Game (1919), and Terror Island (1920). The Master Mystery silent film was adapted into a book in 1919. While not adapted to a book, The Grim Game was adapted to a story paper format in 1920, just like Terror Island was in 1921. 
The Grim Game and Terror Island story adaptations are featured in Joe M. Notaro’s book for the first time and illustrated with original movie stills to help tell the story. For each of the 3 films that Reeve and Houdini worked on, Notaro also shares the cast, synopsis, words of Houdini, history, advertising campaign, and missing footage information.

A 1924 newspaper article, "Houdini Breaks into Playwrighting," describes a new, previously unknown stage play that reads like the plot summary from The Grim Game. The book also features tidbits about each of his known stage plays: Challenged or Houdini Upside Down (1911), Walking Through a Brick Wall (1914), and Buried Alive (1914).

As a bonus, Notaro shares the "Out of the Shadows" film treatment from his personal collection, which has never been published. Along with that, he summarizes and shares tidbits about each of Houdini’s other film treatments: The Marvelous Adventures of Houdini (1917), The Far North or The Man From Beyond (1921), Haldane of the Secret Service or Mysterious Mr. Yu (1921), Yar, the Primeval Man (1921), Il Mistero de Osiris or The Mystery of the Jewel (1921), The Great Tontine (1992), The Monster (1992), The Vulture (1992), Floating Through Space (1992), and Blood Brothers (unpublished).

Houdini Adaptations is released today, April 6, and is available for purchase at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Special offer! U.S. customers can order signed copies (available May 2024) directly from Joe via PayPal to Joe.M.Notaro@gmail.com. Price is $40 and includes a signed book with a Premium Color Interior and USPS book-rate shipping.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Tour Houdini's Los Angeles Orpheum, April 13

Here's one that has me very excited. On Saturday, April 13, the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation (LAHTF) will tour the Palace Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The Palace was originally called the Orpheum and is where Houdini performed in 1915 and 1923. It's also where he had his famous verbal joust with then-heavyweight champ Jess Willard. So this is a fantastic Houdini location!

LAHTF is thrilled to be returning to the Palace Theatre on Broadway for our signature ALL ABOUT tour. Join us for our first event of 2024 when we go behind-the-scenes from below stage to the projection booth above and everything in between.

I've twice missed out on LAHTF Palace events, so I'm thrilled to be jumping aboard this one. It will be my first time inside Houdini's L.A. Orpheum.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Meet Houdini at Madame Tussauds Budapest

I've always loved wax museums, so this has me very excited. Madame Tussauds in Budapest, Hungary, has a breathtaking Houdini wax figure on display. The best I've ever seen. There's also a Water Torture Cell that you can go inside for a photo-op. The image below comes from the excellent website WAXIPEDIA.


Madame Tussauds Budapest opened in May 2023. According to Merlin Entertainment, over half of their 51 figures have Hungarian connections. As part of the planning phase, a large-scale survey asked the public who they would like to see included. Houdini made the cut along with Bela Lugosi (as Dracula). The majority of the figures were made "secretly" in Madame Tussauds workshop in London.


Okay, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, you're on deck! Let's get one of these gorgeous Houdini figures in LA. This was modeled from The Grim Game, so it fits into Hollywood movie history. It would also nicely complement Houdini's Walk of Fame Star just outside the museum and the Magic Castle up the street.

Thanks to Timothy Randall of WAXIPEDIA.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Trunk from The Great Houdinis sells at auction

The original Metamorphosis prop trunk used in the 1976 television biopic The Great Houdinis sold at Heritage auctions on March 20 for $2,625.00 (including Buyer's Premium). Below is the trunk and auction description.


The Great Houdini (ABC Circle, 1976), Paul Michael Glaser "Harry Houdini" Escape Trunk. Vintage original trunk made of wood and covered in painted cardboard, featuring metal latches and accents. "The Great Houdini" is hand-painted on the front in black lettering. The back of the trunk includes a panel attached with metal hinges that can be detached, enabling the illusion of an escape trunk. It measures approx. 51" x 25" x 20". This trunk appears in the early part of the film during one of Houdini's (Paul Michael Glaser) performances. Displays production wear and age. Much of the cardboard has eroded and there is paint chipped throughout. Special shipping arrangements will apply. Comes with a COA from Heritage Auctions.

Here's the scene from the movie in which you can see the trunk. The idea of Bess getting stuck in the Metamorphosis trunk comes from a real-life incident (read: Boxed Bess).


Monday, April 1, 2024

Houdini Returns with Craig Diamond

Craig Diamond will present a special evening devoted to Houdini at the historic John Harris Mansion in Harrisburg, PA, on Thursday, April 11, 2024. I had the pleasure of meeting Craig as a fellow recipient at the Milbourne Christopher Awards last year. I'm sure he will do Houdini justice!

This captivating Houdini Experience takes you back in time for 90 spellbinding minutes. It features over 165 pictures from some of the world's leading private collections.

You'll see Harry Houdini like never before. New evidence has recently come to light, possibly linking his death to his battle to expose the shady world of psychic mediums.

Award-winning, Master Magician and Houdini historian Craig Diamond will guide you through this immersive program.

This event includes a guided tour of the historic John Harris Mansion!

Click here to buy tickets via Eventbrite.


Harrisburg is a good Houdini city. He performed in Harrisburg during his Welsh Bros. tours of 1895 and 1898, played the Harrisburg Orpheum in 1912, and brought his "3 Show in One" to Harrisburg's Majestic Theater in 1926. So this is a "Return" indeed!

If you can't make it to Harrisburg, Craig will be bringing Houdini Returns to Liverpool, PA, on April 12. You can get more details and buy tickets to that event HERE.

Related:

Sunday, March 31, 2024

LINK: Houdini and the Sea Monster

David Britland at Cardopolis has written an excellent account of Houdini's famous escape from a "sea monster" in Boston. It's very thorough and also provides fresh information about the turtle itself. I'm sorry I missed this back in 2021 when it first appeared, but I'm happy to have found it now. Click on the headline to have a read at Cardopolis.

Friday, March 29, 2024

The Houdini Compendium by Alex Rusconi

Released to commemorate Houdini's 150th birthday, The Houdini Compendium by Alex Rusconi is an Italian book collecting Houdini anecdotes and episodes. Below is a translation of the book's description.

One hundred and fifty years after his birth, Harry Houdini is still the most famous and controversial magician in history. His life, like a novel, is full of anecdotes and extraordinary episodes, just as his artistic career was extraordinary.

This book collects 52 (like the years Houdini lived) curiosities about this character, his exploits, his friends and his loves, dispelling some clichés and highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of this giant in the history of entertainment. Even if you know Houdini's life perfectly, in this book you will surely find at least one "gem" that you didn't know about! The challenge is launched...

Foreword by Andrew Basso.


You can purchase The Houdini Compendium at Amazon.it, Amazon.co.uk, or Amazon.com. An English translation is not currently planned.

Related:

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Holmes & Houdini issue 3

The dynamic duo of Holmes & Houdini wrap things up in issue 3 of Zenescope's series, written by Honor Vincent and illustrated by Oliver Borges.

As Nolen Savoy's apocalyptic plot nears fruition, Spencer Holmes and Erica Houdini must join forces, much like their famous ancestors did once before to save the world. But is it already too late?

You can purchase Holmes & Houdini #3 for the Kindle on Amazon.com. You can also buy directly from Zenescope, which offers printed copies with variant covers. Depicted here is cover B by Igor Vitorino and Ivan Nunes.

Based on the preview pages at the official website, this last issue features an appearance of the real Holmes and Houdini in 1913 (below).


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