Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Mysteries of Myra novelization

The “long lost” novelization for the 1916 serial The Mysteries of Myra, for which Houdini served as technical consultant, has been restored and is available to purchase as a paperback or hardback from the NEW Mysteries of Myra website.

The novelization is co-credited to Hereward Carrington, a paranormal investigator and Houdini colleague who later published the book, Houdini And Conan Doyle: The Story of a Strange Friendship.

Houdini’s consultant credit on The Mysteries of Myra is generally considered his first real foray into “Hollywood” cinema.


  1. Folks, thanks for the plug for the book but Mr. Houdini was not involved in the production of THE MYSTERIES OF MYRA. Nothing could have been more pro-spiritualism and Houdini as you know was interested in debunking all things occult, not promoting them as real as MYRA does. The actual consultants on the film were Hereward Carrington, who was the real-life prototype for the screen's first paranormal investigator Payson Alden, and Aliester Crowley, who the villain the "Master" is made to resemble.

    The confusion about Houdini being involved in this serial comes from his relationship with the Grossman pictures outfit which made THE MASTER MYSTERY serial and had filmed two serials in Ithaca previously, where MYRA was filmed, one of which was called THE CROOKED DAGGER. "Houdini is making a serial with a studio that worked in Ithaca" has been transformed over the years to "Houdini consulted on THE MYSTERIES OF MYRA serial which was filmed in Ithaca." No evidence exists that Houdini even ever visited Ithaca for any reason and if he would have worked on MYRA the Whartons would have promoted that fact in their advertising. There's no such mention of him in the original literature; the press releases are all about Hereward Carrington, the prolific spiritualist writer and founding member of early spiritualism societies.

    Again, the Houdini connection here is entirely erroneous; if HH had seen the script and all its astral bodies and ghosts flying around and automatic writing he would have laughed it off as ridiculous bunk.

    It still might be interesting tho for Houdini fans to see this book as a perfect illustration of the sort of thought Houdini raged against and opposed so vehemently at the time.

    -- Eric Stedman, author of the MYRA book

    1. Thank you very much, Eric. Very interesting. I think this is worthy of a blog post all it's own. Is it okay if I quote you from this comment?

  2. Eric Stedman is 100% right. Someone gives out wrong information and then others start repeating it. The internet is great but any resource should be taken with a grain of salt and checked. I am still slowly plodding along writing my biography of Hereward Carrington. If interested check my Carrington blog which mentions many errors often repeated about Carrington. Here's another one - he moved to California in 1944, not 1938 as many resources say. - Steve Rivkin - great nephew of Bernard Herrmann

  3. It seems likely that the numerous escapes in the film may have influenced someone to think Houdini might be involved. Hereward Carrington did not have an association with Houdini that I am aware of till about 1922 when they began to be on friendly terms. There is no known association of Houdini with the film and Carrington never mentioned it and surely would have. If anyone ever discovers proff otherwise I would be interested. Hereward was versed in magic and escapes and even designed the giant spinning wheel device in the film. It is interesting that 1922 was also the year that Houdini became serious about seance exposure.

  4. Thanks Steve. I haven't heard from Eric, but I think I might go ahead and do a post on this because this is good revised info that I think will be of interest to all.