Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Houdini at home -- "looks human"

On August 8, 1926, the Oakland Tribune Sun ran a lengthy article about Houdini's famous Shelton pool test ("Houdini Exposes Fakir By Staying Under Water Hour in Metal Casket"). The excerpted paragraphs below jumped out at me. I love first hand observations like these.

Later in the article, the reporter notes that: "Houdini is 52 years old and he avers he is good for many more." The sad irony is that Houdini would live for just three more months.

Human indeed.

Clipping source:



  1. I think all of us can envision Houdini late summer of 1926. Planning his tour, in the prime of his life. Several months later he is gone...years pass and here we are today. Not only is Houdini long gone but every single person who knew him or saw him perform are all now long dead. Life is fleeting and time moves relentlessly forward eventually overtaking us all.

  2. You got that right Anonymous. As Steve Miller sings "Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin, into the future."

    That the writer noted Houdini's humanity is telling. By 1926, he had become something of a living legend. Ruth Brandon notes at the end of her bio that a neighbor thought he never really existed, like a John Henry or Paul Bunyan character.

  3. To take it one step further just about everyone who was on the planet in 1926 is now dead. All those people we see looking up from the street watching Houdini escape from a straightjacket......all....each and every one of them....long gone. On another note my father knew a man who was Houdinis neighbor in Harlem. How he described him was not flattering although it does jive with what we have all read...but to an extreme. Houdini would walk about the neighborhood unkept, unshaven and disheveled. ("He looked like a bum on the street")

  4. Not an uncommon observation. I've read where Bess had to stay on him to change his dirty clothes. I've never seen him look particularly sloppy in photos, but I'll cut him slack around his house and neighborhood on his own time.

  5. Anyone 89 years old or older was alive in 1926.