Sunday, December 17, 2017

Houdini's wild 2017 in review

It's time to wrap-up the year with a look back at the highlights of 2017.

January's 33 posts kicked off with a look at what Houdini himself was up to in 1917. A collected edition of Rough Riders Vol. 1 was released. Houdini showed up on Mysteries at the Museum and on Timeless. I paid a magical visit to the workshop of John Gaughan. The Houdini Museum announced HOUDINI-OPOLY. Quirkology vanished Houdini's elephant as a new vanishing elephant pic appeared. We discovered Houdini's Coca-Cola connection and his favorite hotel. Harry and Bess hit Ceylon while Sherlock Holmes and Audacity Jones met the Handcuff King.

February (24 posts) opened with an investigation of a famous forgery. A Water Torture Cell poster made history. The Magic Castle revealed a new Seance Coin. Houdini threw shade at Edison. A major Houdini exhibition opened in Madrid. Ken Ralston remembered an unmade Houdini movie. Tell flipped the bird as eBay went Wild About...Clempert? We heard from a creepy grave robber and saw Houdini artwork by Tom Lovell. Le Kaiser Et Le Roi Des Menottes hit stores as author Vivianne Perret discovered Hardeen in Budapest. The month ended with a look back at the first great Houdini documentary.

In March (31 posts) we explored Houdini in 1901 as well as his bizarre plan to fight a shark. A Houdini poster appeared at the Winchester Mystery House, where Ed Saint once considered holding a Houdini séance. Tony Curtis channeled the young Houdini. Kevin Connolly gave us a Houdini birthday present. American Pinball unveiled Houdini in Texas. Peepolykus mixed Houdini and Dracula while rappers mixed Houdini and drugs. A Water Torture Cell photo escaped with $889. The Secret Life of Houdini screenplay was reviewed...and seemed as silly as Benny Hill. Potter & Potter showed us Mama in Europe, and we got a taste of Houdini horror from Italy.

April (28 posts) began with the news that The Magic Castle changed its name! But no one was fooling when Bessie's brooch pinned down $72,000 at auction. The Houdini Museum of New York gave fans a chance to try on Houdini's handcuffs. Houdini tried to buy the Oakland Oaks and gave a free show for Buffalo's newsies. Houdini engaged in a great radio debate while a lucky diarist saw Houdini in 1911. Penn Jillette discussed a "nut" in England as Dave Koenig made the case for Houdini's Ghost. Houdini also saved a life, met The Tramp, and had a Close Encounter.

May (33 posts) began with a screening of Terror Island in St. Charles. Mysteries at the Museum revealed the real ghostbusters. Hardeen appeared on television as Bess discussed (not) having a son. We looked at how Houdini didn't vanish an elephant or walk through a wall. Leopold's house went up for auction. An Escapology exhibition opened in East Kilbride. Magic came to Montreal and Houdini took D.C. We saw inside David Blaine's magic lair and enjoyed some original artwork by Luis Dominguez. Houdini appeared in Heavy Metal and Vanish while VIZ named Houdini the Hunkiest Harry.

In June (25 posts) Wild About Harry hit 5 million pageviews. But the big news was that Houdini's New York home ("278") went on the market. I jetted to New York City and went inside 278, which was the Houdini experience of a lifetime! Meanwhile Hardeen's Tramp Chair was displayed at Oakfest. Houdini's lecture slides sold for $31,980. I spotted evidence of a lost Houdini poster while David Haversat shared his restored Master Mystery 6-sheet. Dover released a new edition of Houdini's Paper Magic. A Houdini exhibit opened in Davenport. Houdini covered Riders on the Storm #4 and Drake got scared away from Houdini's "haunted house."

278 kept us talking in July (31 posts) with a detailed look back at the owners and occupants. Houdini showed up on Jeopardy while his plane landed in a Diggers Rest cafe. Is a Houdini pet is buried in West Hollywood? Maybe The Shadow knows? Criss Angel got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and someone got taken by an eBay fraud (I tried to warn you). Derek Tait's The Great Houdini: His British Tours was released in the UK while The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini was previewed at Comic Con.

August (33 posts) kicked off with a look at Houdini in 1902. Dead Famous went in search of Houdini. Harry took a turn as a serial killer. A new Houdini book by Charlotte Montague was released. Robert Wringham taught us to Escape Everything! Film fragments revealed a Houdini pier jump and a rare poster. 278 briefly went off the market as we brewed up Houdini beer. Houdini secrets were unlocked in 1995. The Magician and the Spirits was released. We waited for Houdini at the 2000 Official Séance as Lorde rocked the Houdini Estate. Milbourne Christopher channeled Houdini, and our friend Colleen Bak gave us a new perspective on an old photo.

In September (34 posts) I investigated Houdini's Prison Cell & Barrel Mystery. The Houdini Estate in Hollywood got new gates while his house in New York lost its bookcase and piano. But is there a Houdini prop in the basement? We looked at Houdini in Ragtime and also found him at Historic Auto Attractions. The future of Appleton's Metamorphosis remained unclear. David Haversat landed Houdini's spirit slates and chair. Houdini became a calendar boy and a pitch man. A lost Magic Castle Houdini display case reappeared. I reviewed Derek Tait's new book while Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz reviewed The Last Séance. And did Hardeen really reveal his brother's most secret secret?

October (40 posts) opened with my visit to Terror Island in Riverside. Fred Pittella revealed the Bobby Handcuffs. Dean Carnegie celebrated Houdini all month on his terrific blog The Magic Detective. We revisited why Houdini's last show was a killer. MOVIES gave us multiple airings of Houdini (1953) while HISTORY revived Houdini (2014). Vivianna Perret's 3rd book sent Harry to Budapest. And speaking of Budapest, Hardeen was in the House! Gene Gamache's Houdini doc arrived on DVD. The Great Houdini's Puzzle Vault was released. A Grim Game lantern slide sold on eBay. Paul Zenon brought Linking Rings to the Secret Cellar. 278 had another open house. Joe Mantegna explored Houdini's Secret Life. Houdini muscled in on a Blackstone auction. And I decided to mark Halloween with the untold story of Houdini's secret straitjacket escape.

November (37 posts) began with a recap of Halloween séances, official and otherwise. But maybe Houdini is waiting for 2022? We celebrated the centenary of Houdini's Times Square escape. Appleton held their annual Houdini 10K run. David Saltman released HOUDINI UNBOUND. A mystery prop appeared at FrightFest. The Disney Channel launched Club Houdini with Iñaki Ruiz de Galarreta as our new Harry. Russian researchers offered a Harry Houdini Prize. We learned David Copperfield wants Houdini's bookcase. A Houdini mystery sack sold in auction. June Horowitz remembered a visit from Houdini. Rough Riders Vol. 2 was released along with The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini #1. American Pinball offered Houdini game artwork. We ended the month with a look at Houdini in 1903.

December (17 posts) started with the Houdini-Hilliar Code hand off. A Regular Little Houdini came to New York. The Flaming Nose asked the burning question: Houdini -- Hot or Not? A 1933 Houdini poem was reprinted. We previewed Vivianne Perret's 4th book. A Houdini musical couldn't escape sound problems, and 278 had a price reduction. The McCord announced the winner of their poster contest. Houdini and Dunninger showed up in The Shadow. The Houdini Museum of New York moved to a new location. A medium waged a final battle while Margery materialized on eBay. A review site deep dived the new Houdini pinball machine. Houdini rang in the New Year at auction. And we asked the all important question: Does the Jawa in Star Wars say "Houdini"?

Sadly, this year we lost some notables from the Houdini world: Houdini Hall of Fame co-founder Henry Muller; collector William McIlhany; Herrmann expert and friend James Hamilton; the great biographer Kenneth Silverman; magician and escape artist Celeste Evans; collector Ray Goulet; and "Mr. Escape" himself Steve Baker.

This year I enjoyed talking Houdini with Dash Finley and Dark Times. I was honored to be a guest on Scott Wells' popular The Magic Word podcast. I was also interviewed for an upcoming episode of Strange InheritanceThe Linking Ring shared my story of going Inside Houdini's 278. I launched new standalone pages devoted to Houdini Plays, Documentaries, and my ongoing project to document Houdini's life Year by Year. And I shared my strange confession about Charles Nelson Reilly.

I will be taking the rest of the year off, but I'll see you all back here on New Year's Day for what I expect to be another WILD year. Thanks for all your support. Please feel free to share your own 2017 Houdini highlights in the comments below.

Resting up for 2018.


  1. Thanks for a great year of WAH. The ultimate highlight for me was experiencing your 278 visit thru your blog.

  2. Thanks John for all your good hard work this year. It has been a great Houdini year with the Houdini open house and for me, the Houdini seance in Cleveland, neither of which I would have know about or attended without your blog. Happy Holidays and New Year to you! --Dale in Cleveland.

  3. Truly another outstanding year of blogging at WAH! My favorite moment of the year was hands down getting to see you, straight from 278, and the treat it was to hear you recount your adventures in the immediate afterglow of it all...then getting to read it all written up later on the blog and relive it all vicariously again. Totally the best.

  4. 278...278...278. Through your ears and eyes. Thanks again.

  5. Yeah--278 was the highlight of this year for me on WAH. Thanks John!

  6. Thanks for another great year! I read your blog daily. 278 was the Highlight for sure. Looking forward to next year! Jack

  7. Thanks everyone. 278 was certainly one of my all-time Houdini highlights. A dream come true. Gonna be hard to top, but I bet we will!

    Rest assured that I've not been resting during my rest. I'm been deep in research and I've chambered some terrific posts. I'm especially pleased with my "Houdini in 1918" post that will kick off the new year.

    Thanks again for all the kind words and support.

  8. Thanks for another GREAT year, John! This blog remains my favorite thing on the internet. i even suspect that, perhaps, God created the internet just so that WAH could exist... Happy New Year, brother!!

    1. Thank you, WW. I like to think that Houdini would be pleased to see that he's well represented on the new mass media. :) Happy New Year!