Sunday, September 30, 2012

Genii & Houdini: November 1975

In November 1975, Genii, now The International Conjurors' Magazine, celebrated on their cover a big moment in Houdini/Hollywood history -- the dedication of Houdini's star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. (This was also the first issue of Genii I ever purchased.)

Houdini would join two of his cinematic co-stars on the famous boulevard; Nita Naldi (The Man From Beyond) and Lila Lee (Terror Island) were among the first stars honored when the Walk of Fame was established in 1960. The dedication of Houdini's star was a press event. Editor Bill Larsen covered the dedication in his The Genii Speaks column:

It took us three years to convince the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce that Houdini deserved a star in the "Walk of Fame." The stars are reserved for for famous people in films, television, radio or records. With the help of Houdini expert Manny Weltman, we finally convinced the Chamber that Houdini was a pioneer in films which indeed he was with his own studio in Hollywood. We will publish the excellent article Manny wrote in our next Houdini special issue...whenever that is.

Unfortunately, a Houdini special issue was not forthcoming, so I'm not sure whether Genii ever did publish Weltman's article. Houdini's star -- which sits on the corner of Orange and Hollywood within sight of the Magic Castle -- would be restored and rededicated in 2008.

But there's another reason to covet this particular issue. The Badgad column reproduces an ad from Variety for "Magician-Actor" David Copperfield, soliciting himself to the industry and even listing a New Jersey address where one could write and receive a video-cassette demo. On the same page is an item from The Hollywood Reporter about Bill Cosby signing to host a "Magic Special" featuring another relative newcomer, Doug Henning. This, of course, was Henning's now legendary first NBC World of Magic special in which he performed Houdini's Water Torture Cell and established himself as the foremost magician of the day.

But that Copperfield kid looks like a comer...

Coming next: The lost decade


  1. Copperfield looks about 15. =)

    Strange that they never did the Houdini special.

    1. My next installment, "the lost decade", I'm going to get into that.