Houdini appeared on the NBC series Timeless last night in an episode called "The World's Columbian Exposition" set during the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. It was great fun. Actor Michael Drayer played the young Houdini as fearless, resourceful and heroic. The episode also contained a few surprises, including an appearance by Dash played by Leo Beckwitt (now the 6th actor to portray Hardeen on screen), and even a mention of Bess; a heads-up for Harry from our time travelers.
For those who missed it, the good news is the full episode is available on the Timeless page at NBC.com through May 25, 2017.
As far as the history goes, Houdini did indeed perform at the Columbian Exposition in 1893 at the start of his career, although it was with his first partner Jacob Hyman and they were billed as The Brothers Houdini. The set designer created some mock-up posters based on King of Cards and Metamorphosis, mixing in images of Houdini from later in his career. Houdini being forced to unlock a door at gunpoint reminded me to his Coffeyville exploit. And for those who felt bad for Harry when Lucy rejected his proposal to "team up" at the end, know that Bess will come into his life the following year (1894).
The episode also featured Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan and serial killer H.H. Holmes. But Houdini was clearly the favorite of the team.
Timeless is about a team of time travelers who protect the present in the past. It airs on NBC on Mondays at 10/9c.
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I haven't watched Timeless in a while, but I did watch because it featured Houdini and I thought it was really good -ReplyDelete
I thought he did a good job. I especially liked when he went through the access in the ceiling instead of picking the locks.ReplyDelete
What was it that the main actress (Lucy?) said to Houdini to remind him or give him an idea? I couldn't quite get it but it was something like "remember the cuppers"
She says "the cutpurse trick," which is another way to say pickpocket -- she was telling him to get the gun from the bad guy's pocket.Delete
And, yes, HH going through the ceiling was very Grim Game like.Delete
Awww yes thanks!ReplyDelete
I always enjoy seeing Houdini's early days on screen. I'll definitely take a look.ReplyDelete
But I thought it was Harry and Dash who performed at the Columbian Exposition together? At least that what Doug Henning claimed on page 31 of "Houdini: His Legend and Magic." Hadn't Jacob already broken with Harry by this point?
I'll have to check that. For some reason I have in my mind it was still Jacob, but I might be wrong.Delete
I just looked in Rinn's "Sixty Years of Psychical Research," and on page 86 he mentions that Jacob and Harry were only together for a few months in 1891 before Theo came in, due to "disagreements" over their lack of success.Delete
Hmmmm...looks like the writers of Timeless might be more up on their Houdini than me!Delete
Update on Partnergate. There is a photo, said to have been taken at the Fair, of Jacob and Harry on stage (I shared it in another Timeless post). This is why this was in my head. But the year 1893 would suggest it would have been Dash. Maybe Jacob, who was out of the Army by now, was doing a solo act and just posed with Harry here? It's also possible the partners were interchangeable (as Silverman says) and Jacob took the Fair gig while Dash stayed home. Or the photo wasn't taken at the fair, but it appears to be a Harry from '93ish.Delete
Sounds reasonable. Henning's source seems to be Rinn, who mentions on page 110 of "Sixty Years" that Harry and Theo played the Fair together, with Harry working solo at Kohl and Middleton's afterwards.Delete
And I had a look at the alleged photo of Harry and Jacob at the Fair; Harry looks much younger there than he did even in the photos from 1894 with Bess, and his hair is shorter, as it was in some of those family shots in Henning's book, which makes me think it was more likely taken in 1891 than 1893.Delete
If so, that leads us to a new question. Is HH/Jacob pic the earliest known professional photo of Houdini? Until now, I believed that to be the knickers shot of HH and Dash seen HERE.Delete
I've done a few laps this morning on the question of which "brother" was with Harry at the Fair, and it is by no means clear. Harry and Jacob dissolved their partnership in April 1894, so Jacob was still "the Brother of record" at this time. That's probably why Silverman says it was Jacob. But Kalush sources a 1943 article in the Linking Ring in which Dash says it was him. So Kalush says Dash.ReplyDelete
I've always believed the only constant in the act was Harry, and he's use whatever brother could do the gig with him (Jack, Joe, or Dash). It could even be that both did stints at the Fair with him! So Hollywood screenwriters (and even biographers) get a pass with this one it seems. A case can be made for either.