Friday, June 21, 2013

A grinning goblin

This poem by MacKinlay Kantor appeared in the Chicago Daily Tribune on November 2, 1926, just two days after Houdini's death. It's a moving piece and I think testament to just how incomprehensible it was to people in 1926 that The Great Houdini was gone.

I especially like the reference to Houdini as "a grinning goblin." Modern depictions of Houdini tend to portray him as humorless, intense, and ultra serious. Yet if you watch film footage of the real Houdini he is constantly grinning with a real twinkle in his eye. To the public who knew him when he was alive, I think the description of Houdini as "a grinning goblin" would be very familiar.

Thanks to magician and Houdini lecturer extraordinaire William Pack for sharing this discovery.


  1. The only decent modern portrayal of Houdini, so far, was Harvey Keitel in the movie, A Fairy Tale. That's just my opinion, but it was also Sid Radner's, so I'm in good company. Jonathon Schaech was the worst.

    1. Keitel spent time with Dorothy Young, who knew and worked with Houdini, to learn what Houdini was really like. I agree, I think Keitel might have come closest to capturing the real Houdini.

  2. I also was struck by the reference to Houdini as "a grinning goblin." Nice!