Continuing my look back at the Mystifier, the quarterly newsletter of the Houdini Historical Center that ran from 1991-2003.
The second issue of what would eventually become known as the Mystifier is devoted largely to Houdini's first scrapbook. The scrapbook was donated to the Houdini Historical Center by Sidney Radner under the condition that is undergo professional preservation (at a cost of between $5000-$10,000). The book is described as thus:
The scrapbook appears to be sub-divided into two sections. The front 116 pages are a collection of clippings chronicling performances between June 22, 1894 and April 24, 1900, telling the story of the Houdinis two runs with the Welsh Brothers Circus and other shows. The rear 31 pages are a hodgepodge of miscellaneous clippings in memorabilia some mold at a later date. This latter portion include such items as the April 10, 1894 letter from Jacob Hyman to Houdini dissolving their partnership, an 1890 letter from the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union reinstating Ehrich Weiss' victory in a race, and a photograph portion of Houdini's plane packed in a crate.
Some clippings from the scrapbook are reproduced along with a transcription of the "Risey in the Box" article from the Coney Island Clipper, June 22, 1894, the day Harry and Bess were married. This is oldest news-clipping from the scrapbook.
In "Queries", Christopher Miller is still seeking info on Houdini's Milk Cans; Diane Kromm of Milwaukee seeks information on Houdini's posters; and Moira Thomas of Appleton seeks "references, stories, anecdotes, legends, etc., about Houdini's life on the vaudeville circuit."
In his "Backstage with Sid Radner" column, Sid relates a story about Houdini and Arthur Lloyd, "The Human Card Index", related to him by Walter B. Gibson. He recommends Patrick Culliton's article about Jack Hayman in the October issues of Genii. He say Pulitzer Prize winning biographer Ken Silverman recently visited the HHC "researching a book on Houdini." He concludes with this:
My wife Helen and I recently attended a workshop which presented the beginning of a Houdini musical–hopefully for Broadway. Finally, I have also seen stories in the press about a new Houdini movie. HOUDINI LIVES!
I'm not sure what the musical was (certainly it never appeared in Broadway), but the movie was almost certainly the on-again off-again Ray Stark project, which was in the news at this time as being on-again.
The newsletter concludes with the news that the 1992 Magic Collectors Association convention will be held in Appleton May 7-9, the first time the convention was to be held outside Chicago. A special expanded Houdini exhibit would be created especially for the weekend.
Volume 2, Number 1
First Quarter, 1992
Scrapbook Presented to Center
Clipping from the Scrapbook
Backstage with Sid Radner
Magic Collectors Coming to Appleton
- Delving into The Mystifier
- Coney Island: Where Harry met Bessie
- Ray Stark's 35 year Houdini conundrum