Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Video of Houdini's thumb racket

Recently one of my readers alerted me to a section of Getty Images where you can purchase stock footage. Not sure how long this has been available, but they have a very nice collection of Houdini clips, including this rarely seen two-second clip of Houdini performing his "Thumb Racket".

This was the "trick" that caused Lady Doyle to nearly faint and further convinced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that Houdini must be supernatural. What other explanation could there be!? Marcet Halderman-Julius in the magic journal Halderman-Julius Monthly recalls, "I could almost have sworn I heard a brittle sounding snap as he broke it off and certainly should have been justified in swearing in any court that I saw that the first joint of Houdini's thumb entirely severed from the second."

This cops behind Harry seem to be accepting the trick for what it is; a bit of hokey fun.

Patrick Culliton in Houdini The Key devotes a chapter to the Thumb Racket, and notes that there was another more complicated effect utilizing a false thumb that Houdini could have used. Or maybe he was just damn good!


  1. Sir Arthur and his silly ideas!

    Clearly, Houdini is a visitor from another planet.

  2. I asked this question previously but does anyone know what event this clip came from? Also....I remember seeing a clip of Houdini being lashed to some sort of table by what looked like a group of monks. I have never seen more than a few seconds of the clip and have not seen it in many years. Does anyone know anything about this escape and where can I see it in its complete form? there any evidence at all that any of Houdini's stage performances were ever on film such as the WTC?

  3. Sorry, I don't know where this clip comes from, and as far as I know, there is no footage of Houdini actually performing on stage.

    The clip of Houdini being tied to a table by monks appears to be shot on the set of Haldane of the Secret Serice, yet it is not a part of the movie. Bit of a mystery that.

  4. Can you post the clip? Does the entire clip exist in its entirity? I seem to remenber seeing bits of scene where the monks are tying him up, another where he is wriggling free and another where the monks lift Houdini to their shoulders after he escapes. Would love to see the whole clip.

  5. Sorry, I don't have this clip to post. I've only ever seen it in The Truth About Houdini doc. And I don't believe I've ever seen the end where the monks life Houdini to their shoulders.