Thursday, September 29, 2011

Houdini bust magically reappears at his grave site

PRESS RELEASE: For the last 36 years the Houdini bust at Houdini's grave site at the Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, New York has been missing. It was destroyed by vandals in 1975. A temporary plastic bust has been used from time to time, for special events, but gets hidden in storage, misplaced, lost, stolen, etc. In the 1970's a bust was on display for many years at at the Magic Towne House on Third Avenue, in New York City. This bust was on loan from The Society of American Magicians. In 1979 it was returned to the Society of American Magicians who used it at the grave once a year for a special event on Halloween, the day Houdini died. With all the publicity, it became such a media circus that it brought more destruction tot the grave site. Because of this, the cemetery now closes on Halloween.

Before the bust was returned a mold was made by owners of The Magic Towne House, Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz, for sake of posterity. We felt we might never see it again. The mold was put in storage in case anything happened to the rare copy of the bust. Though parts of the mold rotted, it has been restored it at a cost of thousands of dollars. Five polyurethane and plaster casts were made, along with the help of craftsman and former escape artist Steve Moore, each time making improvements, then making new molds until it was right.

Three statuary cement busts were then made, much like the original bust that was destroyed. The best one was to be the one used at Houdini's grave. This has all been kept secret for all these many years. Houdini's bust has now been replaced at the grave site the way Houdini and the family wanted it. The three magicians, Dorothy Dietrich, Dick Brookz and Steve Moore, from The Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA., have been sanctioned of the Houdini family to make repairs at the site. An email and a letter from Houdini family was signed and sent to the Houdini Museum to that effect. The Houdini Museum is under the close guidance of Houdini's family. We also have the approval of the management of the cemetery as well. This has all cost well over $10,000. The Houdini Museum put up the money. In this economy, times are tough for the non profit museum, and funds are low, but this is a project that their board of directors felt was long over due. They are hoping an Houdini benefactor turns up to cover some of the costs.

When asked why now? Dorothy Dietrich said, "Houdini was known to take care of grave sites of many others while he was alive. It's only proper that he should have someone return the gesture. Magicians and Houdini fans from all over the world visit us here at The Houdini Museum who say they are also going to visit Houdini's grave. It will feel so nice to visit the site and see it the way Houdini planned it." "We are also putting together a committee of volunteers who will periodically take care of the grave site, cut the grass, etc."

The Houdini Museum...
The Houdini Museum has been visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists for the last 22 years it has been in Scranton. It is the only building in the world entirely dedicated to Houdini. Recently, The Houdini Museum has been awarded a $30,000 matching grant from the OECD of the City of Scranton for the facade of the museum. A fund raising drive is being put together to match this grant.

For more information and hi-res pictures, go to

Houdini Museum, Tour and Magic Show
(570) 342-5555, (570) 383-1821
Houdini Museum
1433 N. Main Ave.
Scranton, PA 18508


  1. It was nice to be part of this project, The day Steve Moore, Dean Allen and myself Bart Sacco poured the first concrete bust was at the same exact time the earthquake hit the east coast this past summer, freaky. Kingdom Products Imperial White Counter top Mix was utilized with the Addition of Imperial SCA, a super high end self compacting admixture to enhance flow and remove trapped air to achieve a perfect concrete replica of the original.

  2. I was honored to be present for the beginning of the installation. Thank you D and D.

  3. I heard about this on CBC radio. What an absolutely classy thing to do. Huge congratulations and thanks to all involved.

    My kids (10 yrs and 8 yrs) are Houdini fans - they can even tell you his real name. They were thrilled to hear about this.

    Nice job.