|Los Angeles Times, Oct. 22, 1924|
By this time, Houdini's friendship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was at an end, so the gloves were off when he told the Los Angeles Times: "Doyle thinks he is a Messiah who has come to save mankind by instructing them in the mysteries of occultism but instead of that he is misleading then public and his teachings are a menace to sanity and health. I have investigated his work and know whereof I speak."
While in Los Angeles, Houdini stayed at the Biltmore Hotel, also in Pershing Square. While the Philharmonic was demolished in 1982, the Biltmore still stands as the Millennium Biltmore and is a downtown landmark. I was especially excited to discover that Houdini had stayed here. The Black Dahlia murder has always fascinated me, and the Biltmore is famous for being the last place Elizabeth Short (a.k.a. "The Black Dahlia") was seen in 1947. I've been to the Biltmore several times on Dahlia pilgrimages. Little did I know I was also walking in Houdini's footsteps!
Below is a period postcard that shows the Biltmore (large red building on the left) and the Philharmonic Auditorium (red roofed building in center of the image). Also the same location today showing the unchanged Biltmore and a modern apartment building now standing on the site of the Philharmonic Auditorium.
I used to think Houdini's movies were the most under-reported aspect of his career. But I now believe it to be his 1924 lecture tours. This was a major change in direction for Houdini, and he appeared in many cities and venues that have never been properly recorded. Looks like Houdini's "year of the ghost" will be a topic to tackle in a future post.