Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bessie does her bad, bad thing

Here's a terrific photo of Bess Houdini that I've never seen before from a private collection. The caption reads, "Mrs. Harry Houdini; oldest lady magician and the youngest man magician; Howard Brant 4/26/1935." You can also clearly see her famous wedding band in this pic.

From the collection of MSW. Click to enlarge.

But what is the "bad, bad thing" that we've made such a fuss about? Lifting a rabbit by the ears! A real rabbit should never be picked up by the ears (kids). That technique belongs in the dustbin of magic history along with killing the dove.

(And here you thought it was going to be something else.)

A big thanks to MSW for this one.


  1. Very nice. There's a photo of Houdini doing the same, so I guess they were insensitive as a household to the delicacy of lagomorphic ears!

  2. Quite right. In Silverman (Kevin Connolly collection). At least Houdini is supporting the legs. But it looks like the rabbit here might be somewhat supported by the hat brim. Hey, it's what magicians did back then. But we know the Houdinis were animal lovers. Crazy about their animals, in fact.

  3. That's a "caught in the headlights" stare from that rabbit if ever I saw one. I agree - this doesn't seem characteristic of the person who cried for days over a parrot.

  4. It does look a bit distressed. But the more I look at this pic, the more I think it might be balancing on the hat rim. I think they are creating the illusion that she is lifting it from the hat.

    But, really, I'm just having some fun with the presentation of this collectible. This is great photo and I'm thrilled to be able to share it. :)

  5. It's actually a very good picture of her ... and the ring.

  6. I'm wondering who Howard Brant was. I posted a request for info on the Genii forum, but got nothing (which is usually what I get at Genii). Wish I could afford a subscription to "Ask Alexander" at the Conjuring Arts Center.

  7. It's all fun and games with bunnies until you meet the dreaded Rabbit of Caerbannog.

  8. Hello Tim! I can hear the sound of coconut shells being banged together.


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