Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Paramount’s Houdini (finally!) coming to DVD

Great news! The 1953 Paramount movie HOUDINI starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh is finally coming to DVD. Movies Unlimited shows the DVD available on June 3, 2008.

It’s not clear what company is releasing the DVD. A tipster tells us the movie is being released by an independent label under license from Paramount.

Hey, I don’t care how we get it, I’m just happy we finally have it! This combined with the April release of Houdini The Movie Star is making this a very good year for Houdini on DVD.

UPDATE: The company releasing this DVD is Legend Films. The disc will include the original trailer.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Houdini props sell in Vegas auction

Several rare Houdini’s props and posters were sold at The Pugliese Pop Culture Collection auction (advertised as the finest collection focusing on 20th Century pop culture ever privately assembled) held this weekend in Las Vegas.

Among the rarities where a full color billboard advertising Houdni’s straight-jacket escape ($27,500.00), an untypical milk can ($13,000), a travailing show truck ($20,000), a mailbag ($8,000), and a burlap full body straight jacket ($22,000).

Surprisingly, one item that didn’t sell was a packing crate said be the one Houdini used in his "Overboard Box" escapes. This is certainly a historic piece of Houdiniana, and considering the opening price of $20,000 was below some of the above realized prices, it’s surprising no one bid. The auction estimate was $40,000 to $60,000.

Many of the items in auction were once on display at the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Niagara Falls, Canada. Several items were first sold at a Butterfield & Butterfield auction in Los Angeles in 1999.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

So when do we start digging?

It was a year ago that a frenzy of media announced that the body of Houdini would be exhumed and tested to see if he was, yes, poisoned!

While the press seemed to have forgotten about this, fans have not, and I’ve received no shortage of enquires about when the old boy is going to be dug up.

I’m sorry to say I haven’t been able to get any straight answers, but the Daily News recently resurrected the story and added one telling new fact; the parties involved never even filed legal papers to preform an exhumation.

This, combined with the dead silence of a year, gives credence to a 2007 Washington Post report that the entire escapade was simply a book promotional stunt.

It looks like Houdini -- and the rest of us -- can rest in peace.

UPDATE: Time to bury the Houdini exhumation.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Death Defying Acts premiers down under

The new film Death Defying Acts, starring Guy Pearce as Houdini and Catherine Zeta-Jones as a Scottish psychic, had its world premiere at the State Theater in Sydney Australia last week.The premiere was attended by the stars and the film’s director, Gillian Armstrong. A VIP after-party was held at the Zeta Bar at the Sydney Hilton.

No word yet on when the film will be released in the U.S.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Kid Houdini graphic novel in June

Fantastic news for fans of the excellent online comic, Kid Houdini and the Silver Dollar Misfits. Chemistry Set has announced that an in-print edition will be published in June.

Furthermore, a special print copy of Kid Houdini and the Silver Dollar Misfits will be available as part of Viper Comics’ Free Comic Book Day Book on May 3 (cover art left).

Chemistry Set urges everyone to let your comic shops know about the Free Comic Book Day edition of Kid Houdini and the Silver Dollar Misfits and ask them to order it for you. A show of demand might be the only way to ensure you get a copy. Then watch out for the June edition in the next issue of Previews!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Houdini exhumation is back in the news

After a year of silence, the Houdini exhumation is suddenly back in the "news." Hmmm... Here's the report in full from the Daily News:

Houdini exhumation to test for poison
TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 2008, 2:10 AM

Harry Houdini escaped from handcuffs, straitjackets and water-filled oversized milk cans - but the one thing he could never get away from was publicity.

Larry Sloman and William Kalush, authors of The Secret Life of Houdini, theorize that the magician was fatally poisoned by a vengeful clairvoyant on Halloween of 1926, and not felled by a ruptured appendix as long believed.

They want Houdini unearthed from his grave at Machpelah Cemetery in Ridgewood so tests can be performed.

"Houdini's memory would be honored so much more if we knew how he died," Sloman said. 
Since their book came out last March, Sloman and Kalush said they have been assembling a team of forensic specialists and exploring legal strategies, though they have yet to file court papers to have Houdini's body exhumed.

"We want to do this the right way," said Sloman. "We don't want to offend anyone."

But their controversial campaign has divided the Houdini family, angered magicians and sparked some nasty accusations.

Sloman and Kalush teamed with Houdini's great-nephew, George Hardeen, who initially told reporters: "Maybe it's time to take a second look."

However, Hardeen now appears to be indifferent. "It's all speculation," he said. "I am not intimately involved in this."

Jeffrey Blood, the grandnephew of Houdini's wife, Bess, is against exhumation.

"Bess Houdini's family feels strongly that there was nothing improper resulting in Houdini's death," he said. "It would be disgraceful to disturb his body based on a theory."

George Schindler, a spokesman for the Society of American Magicians, of which Houdini was president from 1917 to 1926, accused Hardeen of getting involved with the authors for "publicity purposes."

Dick Brooks and Dorothy Dietrich, directors of the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pa., would love to learn more about Houdini's death, but they do not believe he was poisoned.

"In my opinion, it is a ploy to sell books," Brooks said.

Sloman, Kalush and Hardeen deny the accusations. "It's absolutely reprehensible," Sloman said.

Houdini, born Ehrich Weiss, relished publicity. His death-defying stunts and showmanship made him one of the biggest celebrities of the early 20th century. He was still a top performer when he died at age 52.

Renowned forensics expert Dr. Michael Baden noted there were common poisons available in the 1920s, such as arsenic and strychnine, which can remain in bones and teeth long after death.

Sloman and Kalush plan to keep pushing for exhumation - and hope to put the name Houdini back in the headlines soon.

"I think Houdini would have been delighted with all this attention," Kalush said.

One thing that really jumps out at me in this report is the fact that Sloman and Kalush "have yet to file court papers to have Houdini's body exhumed." Again, hmmm...

UPDATE: Time to bury the Houdini exhumation.