Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Houdini and the Mooser sisters

Here's a nice article from the November 6, 1965 San Mateo Times about the original Houdini Nuts, Minnie and Hattie Mooser.

In recent years there has been speculation about a possible romance between Houdini and Hattie. You can read more about that at Dean Carnegie's The Magic Detective. Dean also notes that the Moosers collection wound up in The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the Bancroft Library University of California Berkley.


Monday, November 12, 2018

Master Mystery poster fetches $15,831 at auction

A poster for The Master Mystery episode 11 sold at an eMoviePosters.com auction earlier this month for $15,831. The auction description contained some interesting information about the poster's provenance.

This movie was Harry Houdini's very first movie, and it was his only serial, and it had "The Automaton", the very first robot in a movie. So it is certainly a very historic movie. Posters from it were unknown until around 35 years ago, when the son of the man who produced the movie surfaced, and he had one one-sheet from each of the fifteen chapters! Those were quickly sold, and over the years, a very few of them have returned to auction (we have auctioned four different chapters).  
In 1990, we were consigned this poster, and the person who bought it at that auction re-consigned it to us 11 years later in 2001, where it sold for $16,300. Now, the person who purchased it from us in 2001 has re-consigned it 17 years later, and it is still the only example of this poster we have ever auctioned, because it is the very same poster we auctioned twice before. 

In 2016 an Episode 3 poster sold for $28,080. The value of Master Mystery posters can vary depending on whether the artwork features escape imagery or The Automaton.

In 2013 eMoviePosters auctioned a one-sheet from The Grim Game for a remarkable $67,166. This is the first Houdini movie poster the site has auctioned since.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Plaque marking Houdini's first New York City home

The New York Post reports that a historic plaque marking Houdini first New York home will be installed at 244 East 79th Street, the one-time location of Mrs. Loeffler's boarding house where the Weiss family lived in 1887. The plaque dedication was part of the Original Houdini Seance held at Sojourn Restaurant on Halloween.

A plaque was said to have been installed there in 2016. But when I went to Sojourn to have a look in July, the restaurant staff had no idea what I was talking about. So I'll believe it when I see it!

Nevertheless, it's one fine looking plaque.

Photo from David Allen @TodaysNew.

UPDATE: According to Dick Brookz of the Houdini Museum in Scranton (who organize the Original Seance), the 2016 plaque was stolen.


Friday, November 9, 2018

Discovering Houdini's Baltimore

Last Sunday I had the great pleasure of speaking at the Jewish Museum of Maryland as part of their Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini exhibition programing. It was a terrific event and their exhibition is magnificent! But what I want to share here is what I saw before the talk along with fellow Houdini nuts Fred Pittella and Joe Notaro (HHCE) who had come from New York and California respectively.

For whatever reason, I was thinking there wasn't much left of Houdini's Baltimore to see, that the locations of the theaters he played and the site of his 1916 suspended straitjacket escape were now unrecognizable. But after arriving in Maryland--and seeing Ken Trombly's formidable collection in Bethesda (thank you, Ken)--I did some quick research and discovered how wrong I was! So the next morning before my talk, Fred, Joe and I went in search of Houdini's Baltimore.

Our first stop was the location of Houdini's suspended straitjacket escape on April 26, 1916. Houdini did the escape from the Sun building, which sat on the corner of Charles Street and Baltimore. The escape drew a reported crowd of 50,000 and terrified Bess. According to the paper:

On Charles Street, from Lombard to Fayette, men and women, but mostly men, were packed in a dense mass, so dense that it was almost impossible to move. The roofs of the nearby buildings were almost as crowded and the throng stretched in diminishing numbers as far as the Masonic Temple and nearly to Pratt street.

Thank goodness for this street-naming description, as it made finding this location a snap (it was only 5 mins from our hotel). There are two famous photos that show the immense crowd that witnessed the escape, and many of the buildings in this photos remain today!

This first photo is looking down Charles Street (which is on an incline) and shows the intersection of Baltimore and Charles. (The Sun building is off camera to the right.) As you can see, the large white building with colonnades remains. So does the smaller building with a peaked roof behind it. A four story office building beyond is also still there. It's all wonderfully still recognizable.

This second pic (from the Fred Pittella collection) is looking back UP Charles Street and was likely taken from a window in the Sun building itself. But one can see the familiar colonnades of the building across the street. The actual spot where Houdini was strapped into his straitjacket is now an underground pedestrian walkway.

As for the Sun building itself, that is now long gone. The paper moved their offices in 1950. In fact, whatever replaced the Sun building is also now gone as the site has been recently cleared for new construction.

One last thing about this escape. In the JMM exhibition there is a wall-size enlargement of the famous crowd shot (seen at the top of this post). This allows one to see new details, including this!

This appears to be Houdini's Iron Maiden and gallows sitting in the intersection of Baltimore and Charles. You'll noticed the sign references "tonight." Houdini did indeed do a challenge escape from the Iron Maiden at the Maryland Theater on this very night. Pretty wild.

And speaking of the Maryland, that was to be our next stop.

Houdini played the Maryland Theater many times. He first appeared in 1905 when the Maryland was a Keith's vaudeville house. Later when it became a legitimate theater, Houdini debuted his full evening 3 Shows in One here on August 31, 1925. So the Maryland is an important theater in Houdini history.

The theater is no longer there, and I couldn't find an address for it. But Dean Carnegie at The Magic Detective had shared a postcard showing the Maryland attached to the Kernan Hotel, and I could find an address for that. Amazingly, the hotel (now apartments) is still there and looks very much the same. It seems likely this is where Houdini stayed when playing the Maryland.

But the Maryland is not completely gone. In the photo below, notice how the ghost outline of the theater is still clearly visible on the side of the building where the red brick becomes white near the top. Unmistakable.

The actual site of the Maryland is now a parking lot (below). One wonders where the stage might have been? It's fun to think that on one of these parking spaces Houdini escaped from packing cases, countless handcuffs, the Iron Maiden, and his Water Torture Cell.

Later at the museum, David London, who curated Inescapable, gave us further details about the Maryland site. Turns out there was more here than we realized! As David said, "Houdini was all over this block."

The hotel was part of a larger entertainment complex, "Kernan million-dollar triple enterprise", that consisted of three theaters; the Maryland, the Auditorium, and the Academy of Music. The Academy of Music should ring a bell as Houdini played his "3 Shows in One" here during the week of November 9, 1925 (93 years ago today). I have an original program for that engagement (below). But like the Maryland, the Academy of Music is now gone.

However, Houdini also played the Auditorium Theater during the week of April 30, 1906 with his short-lived roadshow company (watch for a future post on this). Amazingly, the facade of the Auditorium Theatre still stands just around the corner. What a surprise it was to find this!

This building also has a magnificent ghost image, spotted by the eagle eyes of Joe Notaro. One can still make out the distinctive "Auditorium" name near the top of the building.

One Baltimore location we did not seek out was the site of Houdini's 1922 suspended straitjacket escape from the Munsey Bldg. Because it was show time!

Thanks to Fred Pittella, Joe Notaro, David London, Ken Trombly, Trillion Atwood, and everyone at the Jewish Museum of Maryland for making this such a memorable trip and helping me discover Houdini's Baltimore.

Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini runs through January 19, 2019. I highly recommend it!


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Mystifier, Third Quarter 1995

Continuing my issue by issue look back at the Mystifier, the newsletter of the Houdini Historical Center that ran from 1991-2003.

The Third Quarter 1995 Mystifier begins with an article by curator Benjamin Filene about Houdini's first partner Jacob Hyman and his continued use of the "Houdini" name during his own solo career. The matter came to a head in February 1903, as covered in the Springfield Republican:

The paper reported that Hyman, performing as "Houdini" had, as usual, challenged members of the audience to bring him handcuffs from which he would break free. When a pair was produced and locked onto his wrists, however, he could not extricate himself –– and for good reason. The handcuffs had been submitted by Dr. Leopold Weiss, Harry Houdini's brother. Weiss and his lawyer had come from New York expressly to foil Hyman. The Republican reported that Leopold "is said to have threatened to follow [Hyman] and bring him unopenable handcuffs until he drops the name Houdini."

The newsletter continues with an article about Dorothy Young's appearance at the 57th Houdini Club of Wisconsin Convention, held that year in Appleton. It also includes a very nice photo of Houdini with Dorothy and his other females assistants in 1925 (one that I've not seen reproduced elsewhere).

Wisconsin researcher Larry Wilden returns with "sequel" to his terrific look at Houdini in Milwaukee from First Quarter '95 issue. This time Larry covers Houdini's appearances in the city in 1912 and 1923. But he also includes a terrific gem about Houdini's boyhood from a 1912 interview:

During his engagement, Houdini was the darling of the press, granting numerous interviews, and conducting tours of his boyhood haunts. He told reporters about stealing eggs with his brother Theo and cooking them over a makeshift fire on the roof of the Plankinton House hotel. He also recalled selling issues of the Milwaukee Sentinel featuring stories of the disastrous Newhall House fire in 1883.

A report on the production of a new Houdini documentary by Gene M. Gamache and Coyote Pictures follows. The crew came to Appleton to interview Dorothy Young. The Museum shop also announces a new "Free Houdini" puzzle created by the The Magic Box Company, and a Houdini Historical Center watch.

Sid opens his "Backstage" column reviewing the Houdini Club of Wisconsin Convention. He also shares an item from Variety about Ray Stark's big budget Houdini movie beginning production in Spring 1996. This news was submitted by yours truly, and Sid adds:

John, who has an insider's view of movie making, cautions that "all news of a Houdini movie must be taken with a grain of salt. I've been disappointed in the past." [And I was again.]

Sid then announces that the Official Houdini Seance will be held in Holyoke inside the very building that once housed a police station where Houdini broke out of manacles in 1895. (Sid always characterized this as Houdini's very first police challenge, but it was not.) He wraps up with the news that Ken Silverman is finishing up his biography with an eye towards a Fall 1996 release. "It will be the most definitive book ever written about Houdini, with lots of previously unknown information." True enough!

Volume 5, Number 3
Third Quarter, 1995
6 pages

Other Houdini
Dorothy Young Unveils Houdini
Houdini's Return to Milwaukee
Houdini Documentary Filmed
Museum Shop
Backstage with Sid Radner



Wednesday, November 7, 2018

S.A.M. hold 2018 wand breaking ceremony

The Society of American Magicians held their annual wand breaking ceremony at Houdini's grave this week. Magician and escape artist Dorothy Dietrich of the Houdini Museum in Scranton did the wand breaking honors this year.

The wand breaking tradition began with Houdini's death in 1926. The S.A.M. has continued the ceremony every year since 1969. Houdini became president of the S.A.M. in 1917 and built it into the national organization it is today. The S.A.M. now looks after his gravesite.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

JFK compared Nixon to Houdini in 1960

Houdini's name has been used in the political arena from his own time right up to the modern day. But here's a mention I only recently discovered.

In the closing days of the 1960 Presidential election, soon to be President John F. Kennedy likened his challenger Richard Nixon to "Houdini." The comparison garnered headlines. Check out the below from November 1, 1960.

There is an amusing followup to this item. The Baltimore Evening Sun reported that Houdini himself returned during an election night seance held by a Mr. Buschaman. Before Houdini left the gathering, he said, "May the man you voted for win." Because the 1960 election was famously close (and some think it may have been stolen), the paper quipped: "And he did."

Don't forgot to Vote today. And if you're in California, no, I'm not that John Cox.


Monday, November 5, 2018

The Grim Game screening in Weyauwega, Nov. 10

If you couldn't make it to the screening of The Grim Game in Baltimore yesterday, know you'll have another chance to catch the film at the Weyauwega International Film Festival in Weyauwega, Wisconsin, on November 10th at 7:30pm. Below are details.

Houdini's long lost film from 1919, THE GRIM GAME, screens Saturday, November 10th at 7:30pm. Introduced by film historian Jack Rhodes and film preservationist Rick Schmidlin who restored the lost film in 2015. Houdini historian Tom Boldt will display some rare Houdini memorabilia and discuss Houdini’s upbringing in nearby Appleton, Wisconsin. There will also be an appearance by a very special mystery guest!

For more information and to buy tickets visit the WIFF website.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Off to Houdini's Baltimore

I'm off to Baltimore where I'm very excited to be giving a talk on "Houdini in Hollywood" and screening The Grim Game at the Jewish Museum of Maryland on Sunday, November 5 at 1:00 PM. I'm also looking forward to seeing the museum's exhibition, Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.

Baltimore was regular stop on Houdini's tours. In 1916 he performed a suspended straitjacket escape from the Sun building before a reported crowd of 50,000. It was also in Baltimore at the Maryland Theater that he debuted his "3 Shows in One" on August 31, 1925.

I don't have time to cover more of Houdini's Baltimore connections, so I will send you over to Dean Carnegie's The Magic Detective to read: Houdini In Baltimore 1916.

It's likely I will not be updating the blog until I'm home. But I'm hoping to see some of you at Sunday's event. You can find details at the JMM's website or the event page on Facebook.

UPDATEDiscovering Houdini's Baltimore.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Guest review: The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini

Dick Brookz and Dorothy Dietrich of the Houdini Museum in Scranton recently attended Cynthia von Buhler's immersive theatrical experience The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini in New York. I'm pleased to share their review.

Worth the trip from anywhere in the world to NYC for any true Houdini fan and for those who would like to get a sense what really happened to Houdini, one of the world’s most iconic entertainers, in his final days. It is a work of genius. It is done in a very avant guard technique known as Immersive Theater. In this case it is highly effective. The audience members go from scene to scene as if being in a live 3d movie. Depending which of the 8 characters your group is following, you pick up various pieces of the story that make the whole. It is like being part of a living Rubic’s Cube about Houdini’s mysterious death or murder.

The amazing thing is as it progresses every audience member gets to see all the events from the different perspective of the character they are following along with. You are moved in your group from area to area, including to a private seance room, Houdini’s dressing room, a detectives office, an operating room, a very intimate bedroom, along with several visits to the main theater where everyone congregates in their respective rows for a grand Houdini strait jacket presentation, or several Water Torture tank challenges, or in one case a packed Margery revival style celebration, and more. You could be following along with Houdini, wife Bess Houdini, spiritualist Margery, puncher J. Gordon Whitehead, assistant Jim Collins, students Jack Price and Smilovitz, Houdini’s lawyer, or medical staff, or the exciting, sexy but more fictional Minky Woodcock. All done with a supremely talented cast of performers. I am trying not to be a spoiler in any way, except that there is some full female nudity involved, all in keeping with the story and in “good taste”.

It is all very well scripted and performed with great enthusiasm, style and panache. Certainly, one visit to The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini could easily get one rushing to attend it again and again. A truly haunting and exciting experience. It is highly recommended and very moving in its beauty, mystery and controversial ideas. 
Higher priced tickets include a copy of the hardcover graphic novel signed by the creator/director/author/illustrator Cynthia von Buhler. “The twenties were a time when freedom roared, especially for women, who chose to keep their war-time jobs, drank booze, bobbed their hair, threw away their corsets, and finally won the right to vote… I love things that are true but you can’t believe they’re true because they’re so bizarre… ” said von Buhler. ”

The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini will conclude on November 10th, 2018 at Theatre 80 (80 St. Marks Place, Manhattan). Performances are at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.  For tickets and more information visit the official website.

Photos by Mark Shelby Perry.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Houdini a no show, but 2018 seances still a success

Houdini once again decided to skip the seances held in his honor last night. But if the true goal was to celebrate his life and entertain, then this 92nd anniversary was a great success!

The Official in Baltimore.

In Baltimore, "The Official Houdini Séance" was held at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, site of the current exhibition, Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini. The inner circle was made up of Houdini luminaries: Bill Radner, Tom Boldt, Arthur Moses, Ken Trombly, Bruce Averbook, Fred Pittella, Robert Somerdin, Midge Markey, and David London. Also joining was Debbie Hardeen, Houdini’s great-grandniece, her first time participating in an Official Houdini Séance.

Despite the best efforts of Psychic Medium Maggie Salter, Houdini did not come through. The seance was live tweeted by JMM Marketing Manager Rachel Kassman, who has posted a full account of the event at the JMM Blog.

The Original in New York.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz held their "Original Houdini Seance" at Sojourn Restaurant, the site of the Weiss family's first New York home. Guests of honor were author Alain Nu and artist Cynthia von Buhler. Dick reported that cellphones rang twice when Houdini was called upon, and the restaurant chandelier noticeably swayed. You can read a report at the Daily News.

Congrats to all the organizers and participants. Let's try again next year!


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The amazing afterlife of Harry Houdini

Today marks the 92nd anniversary of Houdini's death on Halloween 1926. But today also marks the start of Houdini's amazing afterlife, in which he not only continued to be the most famous name in magic, but grew to become one of the most famous individuals of the entire 20th century. So what has carried Houdini's name and fame aloft for 92 years?

Houdini continued to make headlines even after his death, with news of his collection being donated to the Library of Congress and Bess's battles with insurance companies. Houdini's act also lived on with Hardeen coming out of retirement and touring as "Brother and Legal Successor of Houdini." And, of course, there was the infamous Arthur Ford séances which caused a sensation in 1929.

But perhaps the most important first step in cementing Houdini's legend was the serialization and publication of Houdini His Life Story by Harold Kellock, the first major Houdini biography. With its mix of fact and fiction, the Kellock book established how the Houdini story would be told for decades.

Other books quickly followed. The Secrets of Houdini by J.C. Cannell traded on the continued fascination with Houdini's secrets, as did Houdini's Escapes and Houdini's Magic by Walter B. Gibson. Houdini and Conan Doyle: The Story of a Strange Friendship by Bernard Ernst and Hereward Carrington became the first specialized Houdini study in 1932. The first news of a Hollywood biopic also surfaced in the '30s, with papers reporting that both RKO and Columbia were developing movies based on the life of the great magician.

Houdini was again in the headlines in 1936 with The Final Houdini Séance in Hollywood. This was Bess Houdini and Edward Saint's greatest tribute and most successful publicity getter. Two years later Bess appeared as herself in the film Religious Racketeers. But even without Bess and Ed, Houdini's name never left the news. In 1939 it was widely reported that a plumber trapped for 10 hours in a cave-in credited his survival to remembering Houdini's writings about the Shelton Pool Test.

In 1941, Walter Winchell shared "A Few Untold Facts about Harry Houdini" in his popular national column. Genii Magazine continued to release an annual "Houdini Memorial Issue" ever October. The '40s also saw publication of The Great Balsamo by Maurice Zolotow, which professed to be a tell-all tale of Houdini's life. Then, in 1946, a group of thirteen magicians, headed by Karrell Fox, held a seance in Detroit for the 20th anniversary of Houdini's death. The event caught the imagination of the media and was widely reported on. The following year, both Joseph Dunninger and Harry Blackstone held competing Houdini Seances on Halloween, kicking off the annual Houdini Seance tradition that continues to this day.

After Hardeen's death in 1945, his former assistant and successor Hardeen Jr. (Douglas Geoffrey) toured with "Houdini Lives Again!" Then in 1950, The Great Houdini by Beryl Williams and Samuel Epstein was published. The book would become a gateway to the Houdini story for many kids as it was published by Scholastic and became a staple of grade school libraries. It was also in the 1950s that another seminal event occurred when Paramount released Houdini starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Both the Curtis movie and Epstein book helped spread Houdini's name and fame for decades to come.

Houdini The Man Who Walked Through Walls by William Lindsay Gresham became the next important Houdini biography. The book took a big step in correcting many of the myths born in Kellock, while creating a few of its own. The feature documentary Days of Thrills and Laughter reminded audiences of Houdini's film career. John Kennedy even called Richard Nixon a "Houdini" in the final days of the 1960 Presidential campaign. The quip drew national coverage.

On January 30, 1965, Paramount's Houdini aired on television for the first time. It became a perennial programer and brought Houdini's story to a new generation (including me). The '60s also saw a London musical, Man of Magic, and the opening of the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Niagara Falls, Canada. The end of the decade brought the publication of Houdini The Untold Story by Milbourne Christopher, still one of the best and most accurate Houdini biographies ever written.

The first Houdini documentary, The Truth About Houdini, aired on the BBC in 1970. Arno Press reprinted Houdini's A Magician Among the Spirits, and the S.A.M.'s Houdini Birth Research Committee's Report officially recognized Houdini's birthplace as Budapest. As the centenary of Houdini's birth drew near, newspapers widely reported a rumor that a box containing all his secrets would be opened. That never happened. But Doug Henning did open The Magic Show on Broadway, and when he did Houdini's Water Torture Cell on live television in 1975, it launched a second Golden Age of Magic and an explosion of interest in Houdini.

Houdini was inescapable in the mid 1970s. He appeared as a character in the #1 bestseller Ragtime. A new biopic, The Great Houdinis, aired on ABC. The Warren Paper Company put out a Houdini poster that has become iconic in its own right. A legion of new books and reprints appeared. Houdini received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And the mysterious destruction of his grave bust was big news. Even Fonzie did the Milk Can escape on Happy Days.

The 1980s saw the documentary Houdini Never Died air on a nascent HBO. A new biography, Death and the Magician: The Mystery of Houdini by Raymund Fitzsimons was published. Appleton dedicated its "Houdini Plaza", and Disney aired Young Harry Houdini. The decade also saw the start of a trend in Houdini fiction that continues to this day, with Houdini meeting everyone from Sherlock Holmes to Dracula.

The Houdini Historical Center in Appleton became a center of Houdini study and activity in the 1990s. Houdini (1953) was finally released on VHS amid talk of a new Houdini biopic, this time starring Tom Cruise. The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini by Ruth Brandon hit bookstores. Houdini: The Great Escape aired on A&E's Biography, kicking off a wave of half-hour Houdini documentaries on similar shows. Then, in 1996, Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss by Kenneth Silverman was published, setting a new bar for Houdini biographies that has yet to be matched. The '90s also saw FairyTale: A True Story with Harvey Keitel as Houdini, and the TNT Original movie Houdini starring Johnathon Schaech.

Houdini arrived in the 21st Century as a first class postage stamp. He also appeared as a character in the bestselling Carter Beats The Devil by Glen David Gold. Then came The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero by Bill Kalush and Larry Sloman. The book blurred the lines between biography and Houdini fiction with tales of Houdini working as a spy. Hollywood was the only one who bought it, and promised a series of action-packed Houdini spy movies (which have yet to appear). One movie that did appear was the equally fanciful, but far less action-packed, Death Defying Acts with Guy Pearce.

In a welcome return to real Houdini history, the centenary of Houdini's historic first flight in Australia was celebrated in Diggers Rest in 2010. That same year saw the Houdini Art and Magic touring exhibition open in New York City. Then on November 10, 2010, WILD ABOUT HARRY was launched.

These past eight years have seen some 3922 posts, each one in their own way attesting to the continued popularity and fascination with Houdini. This year alone has seen three major museum exhibitions and a myriad of special events, including 4 seance events today. Next year will see the release of a major new book by Joe Posnanski, the title of which was revealed on Amazon just this week. Appropriately enough, it will be called, The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini.

So on this 92nd anniversary of his death, it has never been more clear...



Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Houdini 2018 Halloween rundown

Tomorrow marks the 92nd anniversary of Houdini's death, and, as usual, there are no shortage of events looking to bring him back!

  • The Official Houdini Seance will be held this year in Baltimore at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The event will feature talks by Houdini experts and performances by magicians. The museum is currently home to the exhibition Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini. Note: This event is SOLD OUT.
  • The Original Houdini Seance will once again be held at Sojourn Restaurant in New York City, the site of Houdini's boyhood home. Guests of honor will include author Alain Nu and Cynthia von Buhler, whose show The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini is playing to rave reviews (and will have a Halloween night performance). The seance starts at 11:30 AM and is free, but you'll need to register HERE.
  • Dixie Dooley will hold his 33rd Annual Houdini Seance in Las Vegas. The seance starts at 1:26 PM at Headz Up in the Boulevard Mall, 3542 South Maryland Pkwy. Admission is free, but arrive early for preferred seating.
  • Psychic Comedienne and Medium Jill Marie Morris will again hold her Harry Houdini Halloween Vigil at Dearly Departed Tours & Museum in Hollywood, CA. Note: This event is SOLD OUT.

Which event will Houdini attend? Stay tuned!

Houdini 2018 Halloween jack-o’-lantern by Tom Interval at Houdini Museum.


Monday, October 29, 2018

'Mystery of the Magician' reprint released

Mystery and the Magician (My name is Paris) by Elizabeth Howard was one of the early works of Houdini fiction. First released by Random House in 1987, a reprinted edition is now available.

Paris Mackenzie is a sixteen-year-old from Chicago with an irrepressible personality and a passion for Sherlock Holmes. When she visits her namesake city at the turn of the century, Paris finds all the glamour and romance she ever dreamed of. But the city's glittering façade hides a dark underside, whose danger is like a magnet to the intrepid Paris, pulling her closer and closer to treachery, deceit. . . and even murder. 
When Paris receives a beautiful Art Nouveau mirror from an auction house, little does she suspect it hides a secret for which people will kill. Suddenly her life is threatened and the mirror is stolen. When Houdini, the world-famous escape artist, is boldly abducted during a theatrical performance before her eyes only hours after the theft, Paris is horrified. She suspects a mysterious link between the mirror's secret and the magician's fate, but can she discover it in time to save Houdini?

Purchase Mystery and the Magician (My name is Paris) on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Jack Hoeffler remembers the "Prince of the Air"

Houdini always marked October 28, 1883 as the day he made his professional show business debut. Because it was on this day exactly 135 years ago that he appeared as a trapeze artist in Jack Hoeffler's 5¢ Circus billed as "Ehrich Prince of the Air." And just in case one might think this is mythology, below is a clipping from the September 29, 1915 Appleton Post Crescent in which records Hoeffler's visit to his old friend in St. Paul where he recalls the historic engagement.

One area for debate is Hoeffler says they lived in Appleton, which implies his circus was there as well. But by 1883, the Weiss family had moved to Milwaukee, and this is where most biographers say the circus took place. But the math in this account ("thirty-four years ago") would put his debut in 1881, and thus in Appleton. However, on other occasions, Houdini set it in 1883. But we all know how sloppy Houdini could be with dates!

Regardless, how fun to hear from Jack Hoeffler himself and find evidence of Houdini's professional debut...135 (or 137) years ago today.



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