Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sam Smilovitz at McGill

Here's another selection from the archive of McGill University yearbooks recently uncovered by our friends at the Houdini Museum in Scranton and Joe Notaro of Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence.

Below are images of Samuel J. Smilovitz a.k.a "Smiley." Sam was the art student who sketched Houdini during his lecture at McGill's Union Hall on October 19, 1926. Houdini was so impressed with the sketch that he invited Smiley to come see him backstage at the Princess Theater and do another for him. Smiley invited a friend, Jacques Price, and together they visited Houdini on October 22. It was during this visit that a third student, J. Gordon Whitehead, who was unknown to both Smiley and Price, joined the gathering. The rest is Houdini history.

Above is Sam Smiley's graduation photo from the 1927 yearbook. Below is a shot of Smiley with fellow members of the Maccabaean Circle, a student group devoted to Jewish culture and ideas.

Click to enlarge.

Unfortunately, I could find no photos of Jacques Price in the yearbooks. But you can see his photo in my recent interview with his daughter, Karen Mann. That post also includes a photo of Smiley in 1994.

Thanks again to Dorothy Dietrich, Dick Brookz, and Joe Notaro. You can check out all the McGill Yearbooks HERE.



    1. A photo of Mr. Jack Price from his college days appears to be very elusive. The 1924 McGill yearbook mentions a Mr. Jack Price in an article about the Juniors football team on page 183, but that could be anybody. Besides the McGill yearbooks, I couldn’t find him in the University of Toronto Yearbooks where according to his daughter, he studied civil engineering and graduated in the late 30s.

      1. According to Bell, Jack did not graduate from McGill. An enrollment card on microfilm listed him as a Science undergrad in the 1926-27 and 1927-28 school years. His middle name was Isadore and he was born in Preston, England. He might have been a Member of Sigma Alpha Mu university. He graduated from the University of Toronto 1939 and was likely at McGill thirteen years previously.

      2. In Bell, on page 175 and 177 there is mention of a photo of Jack when he was around eighteen, which was just around the time he was in Montreal and attending McGill. Too bad, that photo never serviced.