Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Houdini (Himself) in Glasgow, 1920

A playbill broadside featuring "Houdini (Himself)" at the Glasgow Coliseum in Scotland in 1920 has sold on eBay for $1,176. This playbill represents an interesting period in Houdini's career.

In July 1914, Houdini returned to America to fill his regular summer engagement at Hammerstein's Victoria in New York. His intention was to return to Europe soon after, where he already had a full schedule of bookings. But World War I broke out, and Houdini found himself unable to travel for the duration.

After the war Houdini returned to fulfill those engagements, including this stop in Glasgow during the week of March 1, 1920. He was flush with the belief that he was now an international cinema star, and because movies were the only way audiences in Europe would have seen Houdini during the war years (The Master Mystery had been very popular in England), this is why he was billed as "Houdini (Himself)."

It was also in Glasgow at this time that Houdini filmed street scenes that would later appear in Haldane of the Secret Service, and this remarkable photo was taken.

One interesting thing about Houdini's return tour is that he received some uncharacteristically bad reviews. The complaint was that Houdini spent half his act telling audiences about all the great things he had been doing in America during the last several years. A rare disconnect between Houdini and his audience.

Unfortunately, Houdini's name appears to have been in a different color on this poster, and it has faded over time (the seller says it was red). Still, this is a nice memento from what would prove to be Houdini's last European tour.

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  1. I would have never touched it, I thinks its junk and not worth adding to the collection. But if someone is willing to spend a grand or so on this, well I guess thats good for the collectors with the good stuff.........

    1. Condition is certainly not the best, and the faded name is a shame (and a little strange). But I do really like this item for the history. The exact date of Houdini's 1920 Glasgow appearance wasn't known until this showed up. And I love the "Houdini (Himself)" billing. I'll take "junk" like this any day...but at a lower price. :)