Thank you, John.
UPDATE: So it appears this wasn't such a mystery after all (just a mystery to me). Thanks to Joe Notaro and Tom Interval's Houdini Magical Hall of Fame Facebook page, here is a photo of the effect, along with a description from the great Patrick Culliton:
"The Cutting a girl into eight pieces apparatus was in the Niagara Museum from its opening until the fire. I put it together (not to perform, but, to display) for the Butterfield auction. I was not impressed with the illusion which Dunninger made, and Kevin Connolly has a letter from Houdini to Dunninger in which Houdini really complains about the shoddy workmanship. He says his men had to completely tear it down and rebuild it. It was really to take advantage of the Sawing a Lady in Half fad of a few years before. Hardeen performed it, and in a very rare professional appearance as a magician, Jimmy Collins performed it (and handcuff escapes and a straight jacket escape) around 1928."
- Patrick Culliton
It's said Dunninger's original design for the effect had the assistant fully concealed inside the box. But Houdini felt this would arouse audience suspicion, so he redesigned it to display the girl's head and feet.
The original "Slicing A Girl in Eight" apparatus sold for $3,450 at Butterfied & Butterfiled's auction of memorabilia from the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame held in Los Angeles on November 15, 1999. The restored effect was resold at a Bonhams auction of Entertainment Memorabilia on June 16, 2008 for only $2,700.
UPDATE: A December 5, 1926 article in the New York Daily News reveals that the women in the box was Houdini's niece Julia Sawyer.
- Houdini's grand finale: 3 Shows In 1
- Houdini on his 1926 Buried Alive: "I like it very much."
- Ad shows Houdini performed Buried Alive in 1926 (and "Slicing a Woman in Seven Parts")
Could this be Dr. Lynn's effect but with a female assistant instead of Collins? We know that Houdini performed this on his last tours.ReplyDelete
Hey, you might be onto something there, Leo. HH did the traditional Paligenesia in his first season, but the Season 2 program does not list it. But it does list Slicing A Girl. Good thinking!Delete
Great find and nice detective work by all. BTW: In 1896 when the Houdini’s were performing with the Marco Magic Company, Professor Dooley used to decapitate a female volunteer (Bessie).ReplyDelete
You're welcome John. When I saw the word "slicing" Dr. Lynn's Paligenesia came to mind. What else could it be? We know that Houdini stayed away from the Sawing A Lady In Half effect.ReplyDelete
There's a nice photo in the Kellock bio of Houdini performing Paligenesia and about to give Collins the knife treatment.
This sept 28 1926 a month before he died.ReplyDelete
After 87 years we are still learning stuff about HoudiniReplyDelete
The Cutting a girl into eight pieces apparatus was in the Niagara Museum from its opening until the fire. I put it together (not to perform, but, to display) for the Butterfield auction. I was not impressed with the illusion which Dunninger made, and Kevin Connolly has a letter from Houdini to Dunninger in which Houdini really complains about the shoddy workmanship. He says his men had to completely tear it down and rebuild it. It was really to take advantage of the Sawing a Lady in Half fad of a few years before. Hardeen performed it, and in a very rare professional appearance as a magician, Jimmy Collins performed it (and handcuff escapes and a straight jacket escape) around 1928.ReplyDelete
Dynamite info, Patrick. Thanks. I should have asked you about this before I posted, dang-it.Delete
Stand-by for an update, all.
Thank you for the on more pice of the puzzle.Delete
UPDATED with Patrick's post above and a photo of the effect via Joe Notaro and Tom Interval's Houdini Hall of Fame Facebook page. Thanks everyone!ReplyDelete
Is there any picture of Houdini petorming it ?ReplyDelete
Not that I know of. But, heck, I didn't even know the apparatus was in the Houdini Museum. And I went there!Delete
Although there are no pictures, Cutting the Girl in Eight is also described in all of the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame booklets.Delete
I tried finding any reference to this effect in all the usual places (even tried Ask Alexander), but I didn't think to look at my Houdini Magical Hall of Fame material. But that is a great idea when researching the full evening show. So much of the show was there! I wonder who has this now?Delete
Houdini thought it was a real POS when he bought from Joey D. One of the few times he curses in correspondence.ReplyDelete
That would be a great letter to share on your site, Kevin. :)Delete
Well, thanks to Patrick, John has solved another mystery. I had no idea that Dunninger built illusions, much less badly.ReplyDelete
Maybe one day John. I'm trying to figure out how to publish a piece from Houdini's porno collection. And they're way behind the Cologne papers to work on.ReplyDelete
You guys are awesome!ReplyDelete
So it appears the "Cutting A Girl in Eight" apparatus sold at the 1999 Butterfield auction in LA for $3,450. The photo of it in the Butterfield catalog shows it looking a lot worse for wear than the photo above, which Tom Interval credits to Bonhams. Was it restored and later resold?ReplyDelete
It was indeed. Sold for only $2,700 at Bonhams in 2008. Why the heck wasn't I awake in 2008? I could have bought this!Delete
Do we know who bought it?ReplyDelete
Good question. I don't know.Delete
Does anyone know who bought this?
There is a youtube video of a visit to the museum in 1994. It shows some footage I haven't seen and the above illusion etc.ReplyDelete
I saw that illusion on display in 1980. It is the exact copy to the one described in Blackstone's book on magic.ReplyDelete