Sunday, February 1, 2015

Houdini returns to Austin a hologram

Harry Houdini appeared on the stage of the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas last week, telling the assembled audience that it was a great pleasure to be back at the Paramount after a 99-year absence to help celebrate the theater's 100th anniversary.

Of course, this wasn't the real Houdini, nor was it an actor or even his ghost! It was a Houdini hologram. While I've heard of this technology being used to revive the likes of Tupac Shakur and Michael Jackson, this is the first I've heard of a holographic Houdini.

The real Houdini appeared at the Paramount in 1916 (when it was the Majestic). It's reported that 20% of the city population saw his act during his 8-day run. Legend has it that Houdini drilled a hole above the proscenium for a trick. The hole was never fixed and today it is called the “Houdini Hole.”

The "Houdini Hole."

The Paramount's official birthday won't be until Oct 11, but the staff are already gearing up for a full year. That begins on April 1 with a special free screening of A Night at the Opera starring Paramount veterans The Marx Brothers.

You can read more about the Paramount and its centenary celebration at their official website.

Also read: Houdini tours Texas.


  1. The answer to the mystery of the "Houdini Hole" might be in Ron Cartlidge's book Houdini's Texas Tours 1916 & 1923. After his first stop in Ft. Worth, then Dallas, Houdini moved on to Houston. The January 28 issue of the Houston Post noted in its review of Houdini's act that in addition to the Needles and USD, Harry did the "Jesse James Hanging Trick."

    Cartlidge provides no more info on this effect other than the fact that it was listed in the program of the Imperator liner where Houdini baffled Teddy Roosevelt with his spirit slates effect. Interestingly, when Houdini returned to Texas in 1923, his show hadn't change much. It was still the Needles, straitjacket escape and the USD, in addition to his films and spiritualism lecture.

    1. Great find Leo. I admit I have no idea what the "Jesse James Hanging Trick" was. This might be one for The Magic Detective, Dean Carnegie.

    2. Houdini also made a trip to Texas in 1924, his final visit before his death. He went to Dallas for the State Fair, where he did an outdoor strait-jacket escape and gave an anti-Spiritualism lecture. He may very well have appeared at the Paramount then.


  2. I haven't been able to track this down on the Internet, so I'm at a loss as well. Could it be in Culliton's The Key? Let's all check our Houdini books and periodicals again to see if there could be anything about this effect.

  3. Here is a link to the 1914 program with the Jess James Hanging Trick:

  4. Wow! Thanks Joe! The Wine and Water trick is on the program. Wasn't that one of Harry's early dime museum effects? He probably kept his original props and dusted them off for small shows like this one on the Imperator. Houdini was still a magician at heart. Once you're bitten by the magic bug, you never really are cured.

    It looks like John opened another Houdini mystery with this blog about the Paramount Theatre appearance in Austin. Why haven't we seen the JJ Hanging Trick described before? The Imperator program describes it as cheating the gallows. Did that mean Harry hung from his neck? Oh man.

  5. It's Pepper's Ghost, not a hologram.