Monday, March 23, 2015

Houdini & Doyle - Believe It or Not!

Last week it was announced that Fox will be airing a Sony produced TV series featuring the paranormal exploits of Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- a 1920s X-Files, if you will. While this is exciting, it's certainly not a new idea. There have been dozens of Houdini-Conan Doyle mash-up adventures in books, graphic novels, plays, and unproduced screenplays.

This might be the first. This July 1979 issue of Gold Key's Ripley's Believe It or Not! (#89) featured Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in a cover story called "The Spirit of Friendship." In the comic, Houdini and Doyle attend a seance by Margery. While Houdini did do several sittings with the famous Boston medium and Doyle was a major Margery supporter, the three never sat together at a seance. So I choose Not to believe It. But I do believe I love this cover art.

Looking back at this comic, one wonders whether this new Houdini & Doyle series will include an episode or two with Margery? Seems like she would be a natural. She could even be an ongoing character.

Other fictional adventures of Houdini & Doyle can be found in novels such as: The Adventure of the Spook House by Michael C. Forsyth; Nevermore by William Hjortsberg; What Rough Beast by H.R. Knight; The Arcanum by Thomas Wheeler; The Man From Beyond by Gabriel Brownstein; Believe by William Shatner and Michael Tobias. Graphic novels have included Necronauts by Gordon Rennie, and Edge of the Unknown by Jon Vinson and Marco Roblin. Last year two plays featured the duo in debate; Nothing on Earth by Randall Sharp, and Flim Flam: Houdini and the Hereafter by Gene Franklin Smith.

Past movies and television projects that never made it to the screens included a feature film at DreamWorks called Voices from the Dead by J. Michael Straczynski, a TV series called Among The Spirits at Syfy, and a feature adaptation of Thomas Wheeler's The Arcanum.

In 1997, Warner Bros released FairyTale: A True Story with Harvey Keitel as Houdini and Peter O'Toole at Conan-Doyle investigating the famous case of the Cottingley fairies.

Believe it or not!



  1. There was also a historical moment with Peter Cushing as Sir Arthur attending a seance in the Paul Michael Glaser TV movie.

    1. Indeed! Doyle also appeared in two other TV biopics, Houdini (1998) played by David Warner, and the recent Houdini Miniseries played by David Calder. But Cushing was classic.