Thursday, February 7, 2013

Houdini - Hollywood ghost

This is a segment about Houdini from the 1986 documentary Hollywood Ghost Stories. It contains nice footage of Houdini performing card flourishes in a 1926 Pathe short and sound footage of Bess Houdini from Religious Racketeers (a.k.a. Mystic Circle Murder). We also get to see the Laurel Canyon estate at its most overgrown.

But the segment also contains a whopper when Psychic Researcher Gordon Rattray claims Bess, a "devout Christian", was pressured by her church to retract the Arthur Ford Houdini message. Of course, Bess was Catholic, and how devout she was at the time of the Ford seances is debatable. And I've never heard of any church involvement in the matter.

Audio is low so you'll want to boost it all the way up. Enjoy the spooky.

Hollywood Ghost Stores is hosted by John Carradine and is definitely a product of its time. The DVD can still be found on It can also be rented on Netflix.

You can see more videos like this at the WILD ABOUT HARRY YouTube Channel.


  1. I love that footage of him manipulating the cards and wish there was more of it somewhere (besides the spread, turnover, and flip footage that also exists). And something interesting I hadn't noticed before: Bess looks as if she's reading from a cue card some of the time, especially when seated.

    1. I've only ever seen this footage in bits and pieces and usually the small bit here. I would love to see the entire thing uncut or even know exactly what the entire clip consisted of. I also have the fantasy that this could have been sound footage, but that might only be a fantasy.