Friday, May 11, 2012


The voice of Harry Houdini boomed out over the assembled guests at The Magic Collectors Weekend in Chicago tonight. But this was not the 1:20 clip we are all familiar with.

Mega collector Arthur Moses has miraculously unearthed the two complete 3:30+ minute recordings of Houdini doing his Water Torture Cell patter, and played them in their entirety, along with on-screen text transcriptions, for the stunned convention attendees. In essence, what we heard tonight was good five and half minutes of Houdini's voice that has NEVER been heard or broadcast publicly.

I almost fainted.

What's revelatory, and what makes this a true "game changer," is that Arthur was able to demonstrate how the familiar 1:20 minute speech is actually an edited and highly abbreviated amalgamation of both these recordings. So it is not Houdini's authentic USD patter. In the authentic recording heard tonight Houdini describes the USD "apparatus" in detail, including the inner cage and the steel bands that encircle the cell, and very craftily teases out the danger of the effect. We also hear his invitation for a committee of "10 to 15 gentleman" to join him on stage. In one of the recordings he signs off by saying: "This record spoken by Harry Houdini."

I'll have more on this and the entire Magic Collector Weekend when I return. Keep following me on Twitter @HoudiniWild for the latest.

Arthur and his crew study the Houdini voice recordings transcriptions.

UPDATE: REPORT: Houdini haunts The 43rd Magic Collectors Weekend.

UPDATE 2: Arthur Moses posts transcripts of the full Houdini voice recordings.


  1. Wow - so who put together the amalgamated version?

    Amazing stuff. You won't need the plane to fly home will you?

  2. Obvious question...will Arthur make these available for all those Houdini fans who were not with you tonight? Maybe on your web site? And where did he unearth them? Must be some story!

  3. Bravo to all you senior houdini historians.

    Lets hear it !!!

    Wonderful news....lets hear from the great man.

  4. I hope it come out for all of us can hear.

  5. Arthur believes, as do I, that the 1:20 edit was created for the 1993 BBC doc.

    Unfortunetly, I don't think Arthur will release these in any major public way. There are issues with doing that. But that's why there are events like the MCW. Some things can only be shared in this way.

    I'll post more about the weekend and the recordings when I get back.

  6. This means that someone has had the full recordings since 1993 !
    Would be great if the lost movie reels and this could be combined and made available to collectors/houdini fans.

  7. "Unfortunately, I don't think Arthur will release these in any major public way. There are issues with doing that."

    That's indeed unwelcome news. I'd gladly pay for these on CD, and hope that he figures out a way to monetize them so that public distribution will be worthwhile. Surely there's less reward in keeping them under wraps.

  8. Wow! What a find! Agree with the above-- worth every cent they'd charge for a CD.

  9. Maybe we could call a 1-900 number to pay to listen?

    How about distribution as an iphone ap?!

    Anyway, this is great news! Any chance you could share the transcript?

    1. Hmmm...sharing the transcript (or at least one of them). Didn't think to ask Arthur that. Maybe a possibility at some point. Not sure, but I bring it up with him.