Friday, December 18, 2015

Christine U'Ren captures Houdini in San Francisco

What was I just saying about San Francisco being a hot-bed of Houdini activity these days? Now the San Francisco Silent Film Festival blog has posted the first of a multi-part post by guest blogger Christine U'Ren about, you guessed it, Houdini in San Francisco.

Christine has gone above and beyond in her research and, among other things, has uncovered a terrific full page article from the June 19, 1899 San Francisco Examiner with some images of a roped Houdini by Coover and Rasmussen (who also took this famous shot) that I've never seen before.

Below is the link to part one, which primarily discusses 1899. I will add links to the next installments as they appear at the SF Silent Film Festival blog.

Houdini in Vanishing San Francisco, part 1 (1899)
Houdini in Vanishing San Francisco, part 2 (1907-15)
Houdini in Vanishing San Francisco, part 3 (1923-4)

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival recently screened Houdini's The Grim Game at the historic Castro Theater in San Francisco.

UPDATE: Link to part 2 now added. I'm excited to see it includes a rare photo of Houdini's 1915 overboard box escape in San Francisco Bay from the collection of Dr. Bruce Averbook. This is the only photo of that escape of which I'm aware. I'm also excited to see Christine plans a part 3.

UPDATE: Link to part 3 now added. I very excited to see Christine has uncovered some newspaper clippings from Houdini's suspended straitjacket escape from the Hearst Building.


  1. Just to set the record straight: Houdini didn't "persuade" Prof. Benzon to "write" the expose article. Houdini wrote the article and had Benzon plant it in the San Francisco Examiner. The campaign Houdini waged to become a star during his first tour as a headliner was one of the most ingenious in the history of entertainment

    1. Thanks Patrick. Good clarification. Agree that the story of HH in 1899 is a remarkable one.

    2. Patrick, you are one of the 'real' scholars and researchers. You go after the sources and core of facts, not just copying others work. Your integrity is admired. I so miss our friend Manny.
      All the Best, James Hamilton

  2. Patrick--you've been saying for years that Houdini was the driving force behind that Professor Benzon expose article. Can you tell us where you got that information?

  3. Hi there! Part 2 of Houdini in SF is up, and it looks like Christine's gone and expanded it so there'll be a part 3, too. Enjoy:

    1. Great! Thanks. Christine told me it was going to be two parts, but I wondered if she'd expand as there is a lot of ground to cover. I'll add the links above. Thanks. :)