Monday, October 21, 2013

Unpublished Houdini: Hollywood pals

Welcome to Unpublished Houdini. In this series I share a new never-before-published photo of Houdini every Monday from our generous Hinson Endowment.

Here's an unpublished photo of Houdini with Thomas Meighan and Jack Pickford in Hollywood. Meighan was a major star with Famous Players-Lasky; at one point he earned $10,000 a week. Jack Pickford was the brother of silent movie superstar, Mary Pickford. The men shared a connection in that Meighan was the sole witness to Jack's secret marriage to Ziegfeld Follies girl Olive Thomas in 1916.

This casual shot taken before a series of photos of the actors subjecting Houdini to several rope tie challenges. Those photos appeared in Houdini's 1921 book, Magical Rope Ties and Escapes.

"During one of my engagements at the Lasky studio, in California, that popular leading man, Tom Meighan, who established a lasting reputation by his admirable work in the screen production of the The Miracle Man, told me of a tie that was formerly used to secure an Indian who had imbibed too freely of "fire-water."

I am led to believe that he carried the process considerably farther than was the custom in the case of the bibacious aborigine, but I succeeded in freeing myself in less than four minutes."

- Houdini, Magical Rope Ties and Escapes (1921)

What I like about this unpublished shot is it reveals the encounter wasn't quite as serious as the published photos below portray. Acting!

Next week we'll head into the portrait studio for an image of Houdini that just feels right as we approach Halloween...

Also enjoy:


  1. The photos show Houdini demonstrating Kellers quick release tie. This and the method were illustrated in the book Houdini on Magic. The Indian tie mentioned was more complicated with ropes secured around the neck and arms tied up by the head. There is a photo of this tie within HOM as well.

    1. Yeah, Houdini on Magic took it from Magical Rope Ties and Escapes. HOM is a collection of previously published material.

      You're correct that in the quote HH is talking about a different rope tie than what is depicted in those photos. But these photos have both men in them and I thought they worked better with the unpublished shot. The Indian tie photos only have Meighan.

  2. This is Houdini's Full View Quick Release, it's very different from Kellar's routine. Kellar's routine allows for the performer to get out and get back in. The Houdini Full View Quick Release allows almost an instantaneous escape, but not getting back into the ropes.

    John, Great photos! Always look forward to Mondays!

  3. I now like Monday's.