Friday, October 24, 2014

Houdini takes the stage for the last time

It was 88 years ago tonight on October 24, 1926 that Houdini took to the stage of the Garrick Theater in Detroit and gave what would be his last performance. Unbeknownst to the audience, the great magician was performing with a 104 degree temperature and a ruptured appendix. He would die seven days later on Halloween.

Click to enlarge.

To mark this night, above is a remarkable photo from the collection of our good friend and benefactor, John C. Hinson, the great nephew of Harry and Bess Houdini. This shows Houdini on stage in his 1925-26 full evening show ("3 Shows In One"). You can see a few famous Houdini effects here, including the Water Torture Cell, Radio 1950, Whirlwind of Colors, and Hello Summer. Houdini is center stage performing card sleights with Jim Collins who holds the Crystal Casket.

Just as he was 88 years ago tonight.

Thank you John.



  1. Was this a staged photo or was this what one would see at a Houdini performance? Would Houdini move from one effect to another or would each effect be brought to mid stage and be presented there?

  2. Another question.....the Garrick theatre seems to be a nondescript showplace. Why would Houdini be playing here rather than a more upscale venue?

  3. We like to believe that all vaudeville theaters were large upscale venues with lots of flash and lights. The truth is that not all theaters were up to Hollywood standards. Some were a bit more smaller and less ritzy than we would like to believe. This might have been more truer in the Midwest than in larger cities. Houdini was of course aware of this, and it most certainly wouldn't have bothered him.

  4. I'm not sure the Garrick was a vaudeville theater. It's not easy to tell by Googling. Didn't Houdini book his full-evening show in legitimate theaters?

    1. Yes, the full evening show would have been booked into legitimate theaters. That's probably what then Garrick was.

  5. We like to believe that all vaudeville theaters were large