Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The harbinger

When doing a search for Houdini in 1926, this article from The Baltimore Sun dated January 3 is among the first to pop up. It's likely this actually happened during the last days of 1925, which is when Houdini moved his 3 Shows in One to the National Theater. Nevertheless, it was a bad start to a bad year, and an eerie harbinger of events to come.

I'm wondering if this was the same ankle that he later fractured in the Water Torture Cell in October? That is generally considered the first link in the chain of events that led to Houdini's death on Halloween. But maybe the ankle was in a weakened condition, so the chain actually started here with his accident outside the National.

The theater still stands today at 208 W. 41st St. as the Nederlander. Watch out for pipes!



  1. This probably was the same ankle. Benjilini

  2. An interesting and, of course sad account. But I keep wondering why Houdini bothered to move the show just a few blocks south from 44th Street. Seems odd for such a short run - 2 weeks in one house (See - I’m using your chronology again!) and then move for a final week somewhere else very close by. There could have been another act booked into 44th Street (the Shubert) but if so, I’m surprised Houdini wouldn’t just end the run. Also interested as to why the move was considered "an experiment" in the article and that not much of a crowd was expected (cold isn't much of a deterrent in New York; it would have to be a blizzard!) The National (aka Nederlander) is a couple hundred seats smaller than the Shubert and expenses would be lower (theatre staff, etc.) but you'd have to change all the advertising, programs, etc. so it just seems strange. (Anyway, thanks for posting the clipping!) Tom

    1. Yes, the "experiment" reference intrigues me as well. Maybe just the idea of changing theaters in the last week?

    2. Another show had previously booked the theater so Houdini only had it for two weeks. The box office was good, and the only way to extend was to move. A dear old friend, Dorothy Young, was with the show at the time.