Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Houdini grave restoration update

The Houdini grave restoration project is moving forward. Our friends Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz of the Houdini Museum in Scranton report that estimates are being taken on the mosaic repair, and conversations are taking place about restoring the headstones of Gladys and Leopold. Dorothy and Dick are overseeing the project along with The Society of American Magicians.

Says Dorothy: "The Society of American Magicians [brought in] mosaic artist Kim Hogan to go to the grave and make an estimate of what would be needed to repair the SAM mosaic there. She also brought the president of a large glass supplier to help check with color matching, which is of great concern to the management of the cemetery and The Society of American Magicians."

As to the missing headstones for Gladys and Leopold, Dorothy says the plan is to get the stones back in place by early Spring 2015.

Thank you Dorothy and Dick for the update. This is going to be an exciting project to follow!

UPDATE: CLICK HERE to read an AP story about the restoration effort.


    1. This video is really interesting. I've never seen the back of the memorial before. I was going to ask a few more questions about grave timeline, etc., but then realized that you already provided the answers, of course: blog post from Friday, August 23, 2013.

      1. You know, I hadn't seen the back until I went there. Only then did I discover that there was an inscription back there. Very cool.

    2. As Norm Bigelow first mentioned in one of his "Houdini manuscripts" (perhaps "Death Blow"?)...the BACK of the monument resembles a "Bell"...as in "RosaBELLe" (ala the Houdini Code).

      1. That's funny, I was just looking at some original newspaper articles about Norm and his secret vault in the exedra theory. He got some press with this in 1975.

    3. John Hinson great nephew of Bess and Harry HoudiniNovember 25, 2014 at 4:59 PM

      Do you know whos was the stone cutter and the sculpted?

      1. The original stone cutter? Don't know. Probably lost to time. Remember Houdini has this made in 1916.

    4. Thank you for posting this John! I also forgot about the inscription on the back.

      That is a good question from Mr. Hinson but I don't remember seeing the answer in any text.

    5. The sculptor of the bust was John Cassidy a highly respected artist in England who also did images of royality.
      (SHORT BIO)
      John Cassidy (born 1 January 1860 Slane, County Meath. Ireland, UK; died 19 July 1939 Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK), Irish sculptor and painter, was born in Littlewood Commons, Slane, County Meath. He moved to Dublin at the age of 20 to find work.
      John Cassidy (artist) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      (MORE AT)

      (HIS OWN SITE)

      Feb 1914: Harry Houdini. Bronze Bust. Several copies exist in the USA.


      go to the above page for a long story that includes...
      "The New York Times of 12 November 1926 had a detailed report on Houdini's will, including the following:"

      "The will, which was executed July 30, 1924 ... provides for the payment of his debts and funeral expenses and directs that the Machpelah Cemetery Association, Fresh Pond Road, Queens, receive $1,000 for the perpetual care of the lots where he is buried beside his mother. No other member of the family is to be interred there, the will stipulates. A bronze bust of himself, made by Cassidy of Manchester, England, is to be placed at his grave on an exedra erected by the magician.

      His wishes were carried out, although the bust permanently mounted on the grave was not bronze, but a marble copy, presumably made by a local craftsman."

      Read much, much more on the site.

      Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz
      The Houdini Museum
      Scranton, PA
      The Only Building in the World Dedicated to Houdini
      Carrying on the Original Houdini Seance
      The only seance dating back to the original done by Bess.

      1. Yes, sorry, the bust was Cassidy. I thought John was asking who made the exedra itself.

    6. That's very interesting, thanks D & D! Whatever became of that bronze bust that Houdini posed with in that photo from Silverman's book?

      1. I believe that's the bust that's now owned by The Museum of the City of New York. It toured with the Houdini Art & Magic exhibition few years back.

    7. Removed the video and clarified a bit. Consider this an update rather than the official start of the restoration.