Thursday, November 3, 2011

New book finds Houdini in San Diego

The new book The Way We Were in San Diego by San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Richard W. Crawford contains a chapter about Houdini's one and only (professional) visit to the city in October of 1907.

Crawford recounts how Houdini performed at The Grand Theater on Fifth Street on Oct. 7, 8, and 9. During his engagement he escaped from a packing crate constructed by Marston's Dept Store. Crawford has also uncovered a notice (reproduced in the book) saying that Houdini would dive handcuffed from the top of Spreckle's wharf into San Diego Bay. However, for reason's unknown, Houdini didn't do the escape.

Interestedly, Patrick Culliton recently discovered (and mentioned during his lecture at The Magic Castle last Sunday) that when Houdini was performing in Los Angeles around this same time, he advertised that he would jump shackled from the top of the pavilion in Westlake park and escape under water. That stunt also appears to have never happened. Perhaps Houdini advertised these stunts before he actually secured permission to perform them?*

Purchase The The Way We Were in San Diego by Richard W. Crawford on

Photo of Houdini and Bessie "On our way to San Diego, Calif" from Houdini His Legend and His Magic by Doug Henning.

*UPDATE: Oops! I was wrong about Houdini not doing the underwater escape in L.A. He did and you can read about it HERE. Thanks to Richard Crawford himself for the correction.

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