Friday, June 10, 2011

The secret history of the Houdini Bust

James Randi
This 2008 audio interview posted on contains information about the Houdini Bust(s) that I've never heard before. In it, James "The Amazing" Randi talks about how he "kidnapped" one of the Houdini busts from the Houdini Hall of Fame in Niagara Falls, Canada, to make a copy, and how Penn & Teller later did the same to him. It's a great story, but one that certianly underscores, once again, what a shoddy museum the Hall of Fame was.

Then, on a much more serious note, Randi claims the man who smashed the original grave bust was escape artist Norman Bigelow (author of the provocative Death Blow) who did so because he had a "premonition" that it would happen. I have no idea if this is true but, again, it's something I've never heard.

Click here to have a listen at The Amazing Show on

Thanks to Dick Brookz at The Magic Cafe forums for bringing this interview to my attention.

1 comment:

  1. More importantly on the post I had the following on the Houdini Bust...
    how many are there? I am talking about the one sculpted by UK sculptor John Cassidy that ended on the grave site and with Bess.
    How many???
    Plaster? 3 were made originally and two were broken. The third one I think the Blood family had it and it went to Radner to the Muller Magic Hall of Fame in Buffalo.

    Any others?
    Resin or compostition?

    One was repaired by Copperfield after some banter and problems back and forth and I understand he said no one else was to get a copy.

    I know when Dorothy Dietrich and I owned The Magic Towne House in NYC we had a resin or fiberglass full sized one on display for most of our years there, that no one at the SAM Parent Assembly wanted or could afford to store. We also had a huge square oil painting (the famous hand pose) on display for many years. As I recall when Mort Shapley became president of the SAM Parent Assembly he asked for them back. When we returned it we said to each other, I bet we will never see it again. Someone said back then it was in Mort's office. I have asked again and again what became of it and have yet to get an answer. Any one out there know?

    We would love to have one on display at our Houdini Museum, Tour & Magic Show in Scranton.

    This also sounds I am affiliated with The Magic Cafe, but am only an occasional contributor. My true affiliation is with The Houdini Museum in Scranton, the only building in the world entirely dedicated to Houdini, and currently the longest continuous running exhibit that is open to the public on Houdini. It is run by myself and well known magician and escape artist Dorothy Dietrich. We both perform there when not traveling on the road.

    Dick Brookz