Saturday, April 6, 2013

Orson Welles remembers Houdini

Here's remarkable footage of Orson Welles talking about Houdini on his BBC television series, Sketch Book. The show originally aired on June 5, 1955. Orson's Houdini talk starts at 04:00.

While it may be true that Orson met Houdini as a boy (I'd like to think that it is), his story about Houdini ringing the the bells of the Kremlin for Tsar Nicholas II is pure hokum. Houdini never performed before the Tsar. When Houdini toured Russia in 1903, he performed before the Grand Duke Sergei Alexsandrovich and the Grand Duchess at Palace Kleinmichel in Moscow. However, there is no evidence to support his ringing the bells of the Kremlin as part of his act. It appears this story was created by Orson himself.

Thanks to David Saltman at The Houdini File for this find.


  1. John, thanks for the referral. So sorry you're not going to be at the Washington Symposium on Magic History. I'll be giving a talk on my Houdini research and book, as well as a film presentation on my adventures with Jerry Andrus, world's foremost authority on optical illusions and avid "Ghostbuster."