Sunday, July 10, 2011

Copperfield plays different recording of Houdini's voice for EMC 2011

HOLY CATS! Dean Carnegie reports on his blog Magic Detective that David Copperfield played a NEW recording of Houdini's voice while giving a video tour of his collection for members of the just completed Essential Magic Conference 2011.

As Dean describes it, the recording is of Houdini giving a slightly different reading of his Water Torture Cell patter from the recording that we are all familiar with today.

Says Dean, "The speech pattern is almost identical. However, there was one giant give-away when on the Copperfield clip. Houdini is heard to say "after it has been filled to the brim with water." But on the clips you can find on youtube and other places, Houdini says "after it has been filled with water". NOT 'filled to the brim', but just 'filled with water'. There are a couple other changes in script as well, so it is a different version."

The existence of this second recording is not generally known, but not a mystery. The original L.A. Times report on the discovery of the Edison wax cylinders in 1970 mentions two recordings of the USD patter on separate cylinders. The other cylinders, six total, are said to contain recordings of Houdini's sister, Gladys, reading a poem, and Houdini re-reading it in German. Oh to hear those!

Thank you, Dean. And thank you, David Copperfield!


  1. Great photo of the Edison cylinder and player. I was looking for something like that to add to my blog, but I was so excited to get the info out, I just published it without it.

    Hope you get to hear the second recording soon.

  2. I snatched that pic from here. Some good shots of the collection:

    I'm bouncing off the walls with this news! (This hit me right at the peak of my coffee high.)

  3. Let me know when you hear it. I frankly thought it was cool to hear. Thanks for the tip on the pictures.

  4. As you thought, Dean, the conference registration will remain open until the DVDs ship, so anyone can register and hear the recording for $90. I'm going to shoot over the Magic Castle library at some point and see if I can get a quick listen there. Eventually I'll register and get all the goodies because this conference sounded like it had a lot of great stuff.

    BTW, check out the Genii forum on this topic. Pat Culliton talks about hearing this in 1976. Pat has always told me about this second recording and how it was the superior take -- how it gave him and his brother goosebumps.