Thursday, January 2, 2014

LINK: Identity of the Mirror representative revealed

One of the many mysteries of the famous Mirror Handcuff Challenge is the identity of the "Mirror representative" who challenged Houdini with the cuff and is seen in the famous photograph of the event (right). Now Joe Notaro at Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence has not only uncovered his name, Will. A. Bennet, but has posted a full account of the challenge as told by Bennet himself!

Some curious things here, including the suggestion that there was "a peculiar physical defect that enabled Houdini to defeat his beautiful mechanism". Of course, if this article is on the level, it means the Mirror Challenge was as well. But it is a little convenient that this article appeared in an Australian newspaper when Houdini was making his one and only tour of that continent. Hmmm...

CLICK HERE or on the headline to read this latest wrinkle in the Mirror Handcuff story.


  1. I smell a rat.
    A Houdini rat.
    This article doesn't synch up with the timeline of the challenge and acceptance.
    Nathaniel Hart should have attended the event. Too shy?
    So Bennett found Hart and the Mirror Cuff.
    This article is an apologia to cover up loose ends and divert rumors.

  2. First thought: Don't trust a press agent. Story of finding the blacksmith seems too good to be true, or as magicians say, it's "too perfect."

    More to the point, would Houdini accept a challenge he hadn't prepared for? The essential point about the Mirror challenge is that the handcuffs had a Bramah lock; in fact, a nested lock. He could not have expected to pick that or bang it open or shim it open. No technique he used with other handcuffs would work -- except to have a key.

  3. I am inclined to agree with Patrick. I also smell a rat. Surely this article would have been published way before the 6 years that had elapsed after the challenge.

    Also, why would a guy who had spent 6 years of his life around a set of unique handcuffs, suddenly "loan" them to a complete stranger for a "gag" to try and beat Houdini. Also, as Houdini ended up with the cuffs, surely there was much more going on than we are led to believe.

    Hart ( if that was his real name) would surely have been in the audience. Houdini himself hopefully would have acknowledged him as the builder of the cuffs that almost beat him, but he was never mentioned again.

    This gets better and better!

  4. If you read the article it was a reprint from what was written in an English newspaper at some earlier date. Why do we think there were rumors 6 years after the fact? Its disturbing to me that everyone immediatly jumps to the conclusing that an article is fake. There were no grwat knowledge of how difficult that lock mechanism would be to pick back in 1904. I seriously doubt houdini would need to divert attention regarding that escape.

  5. The article states that the account was from another article "recently" published in Pearsons Weekly which was a British periodical at that time. Is there any evidence that this article is not valid or is everyone just speculating? I am finding it hard to believe that Houdini could have concocted this entire escape yet noone from 1904 to 2014 ever came forward with the real story expose if you will of what really happened. However here we are saying this well publicized event was completely made up by Houdini in partner with the Mirror yet noone ever came forward to expose the truth? This sounds much more far fetched than Houdini finding a way to get out of these cuffs.

  6. The distinction is that getting out of locked handcuffs is a physical task. In some circumstances it could be physically impossible to do so, in about an hour, without a key.

    Keeping a publicity stunt a secret isn't so hard to imagine. It's just a publicity stunt for a vaudeville act, not a state secret. Just a transitory moment in a newspaper's quest to sell papers. The next day they move on.

    If a newspaper is willing to go along with a publicity stunt in the first place (thus implicated in deceiving their own readers), the paper probably is willing to keep the secret.

    I imagine the Hollywood studios did a good job keeping a lot of secrets in their heyday.

  7. Employees typically dont work for one employer forever. Houdini was a very famous person....again I would expect that someone would talk at some point in time. Secrets usually dont remain secret forever. Also jumping to conclusions that Houdinis challenges were faked without solid evidence does the Houdini legend harm. I would suggest that we refrain from doing so unless evidence is shown that supports it.

    1. I would never use the word "faked." Some of Houdini's challenges were "set-ups" because they had to be. You just can't count on someone stepping up with handcuffs or a packing crate every night.

      As far as the Mirror goes, Bill Kalush in Secret Life did publish what appeared to be evidence that it was a set-up, but I'm happy that Mick Hanzlik shot that down HERE.

      I really don't know about the Mirror challenge. There is still so much mystery surrounding it. A case can be made for any scenario. That's why we're still debating it.

  8. Didn't Houdini say: The secret of showmanship consists not in what you really do, but what the mystery loving public thinks you do?

    The Mirror challenge could be the prototype of later Houdini challenges: he secretly initiates the challenge, sets up the specifications, prepares for it such as by altering the object or secretly obtaining helpful materials, and gets plenty of publicity. Like the packing case escapes. Like boiler escapes. Like wicker baskets, and so on.