Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ad shows Houdini performed Buried Alive in 1926

The story on Houdini's "Buried Alive" just keeps on changing (or evolving). For years the conventional wisdom has been that Houdini's stage bound version -- which is advertised in two well-known posters and might have been developed as early as 1914 -- was something he planned to introduce in his 1927 season as a replacement for the Water Torture Cell. Unfortunately, he died in 1926 and the effect went unperformed.

But now this newspaper advert has surfaced on eBay that shows Houdini was performing the Buried Alive in 1926, at least at this theater. Note a feature for the evening is: "Buried Alive Under Tons of Sand."

Now, we know Houdini is still doing the USD in October 1926 (when he breaks his ankle), so maybe this was just a trial run of Buried Alive? "Slicing a Woman in Seven Parts" also appears to be something new. Or maybe it was an effect that could only be performed in certain venues. Certainly transporting "tons of sand" must not have been easy.

Seeing as Houdini was performing the Buried Alive in 1926, I'm hoping a photograph or review of the effect survives. I still have trouble getting my head around exactly how Houdini staged what must have been an enormous stage escape.

Unfortunately this ad does no show the exact date or city, but judging by "Mass" on the adjoining ad, this appears to be the Majestic Theater in Boston where Houdini performed from Sept 6-18, 1926 (Koval).

Time to hit the archives!

UPDATEHoudini on being Buried Alive: "I like it very much."

UPDATE 2: I've been able to establish that this ad comes from Houdini's third and final week at the Majestic Theater in Boston (September 20-27). During his first two weeks he performed the Water Torture Cell.

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