- Houdini's Movies
- Les merveilleux exploits de Houdini à Paris (1909)
- The Master Mystery (1918)
- The Grim Game (1919)
- Terror Island (1920)
- The Man From Beyond (1922)
- Haldane of the Secret Service (1923)
- Velvet Fingers (1925-26)
- Medium Well Done (1937)
- Religious Racketeers (1938)
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- Full Bibliography
- By Houdini
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- Wild About Harry Bookshelf
- Houdini His Life Story (1928)
- Houdini The Man Who Walked Through Walls (1959)
- Houdini The Untold Story (1969)
- The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini (1993)
- Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss (1997)
- The Secret Life of Houdini (2006)
- The Metamorphosis: The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini (2012)
- The Witch of Lime Street (2015)
- The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini (2019)
- The Official Houdini Seance
- Terror Island screening on Catalina (2018)
- Visiting the Copperfield Collection (2018)
- 278 Open House (2017)
- Los Angeles Conference on Magic History (2015)
- Official Houdini Séance, San Francisco (2015)
- Houdini Historical Roast (2015)
- Midwest Magic History Weekend, Marshall (2015)
- The Grim Game premiere in Hollywood (2015)
- Houdini at Hollywood Heritage (2014)
- Official Houdini Seance, Fort Worth (2012)
- Magic Collectors Weekend, Chicago (2011)
- Houdini Art and Magic exhibition (2010-2012)
- Tony Curtis at The Magic Castle (2009)
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Houdini's first outdoor stunt in Times Square
Houdini and New York's Times Square share some interesting history. I've already blogged about how police prevented him from doing a suspended straitjacket there in 1916. And how he finally pulled it off in 1917. But Houdini's first outdoor stunt in Times Square on July 23, 1912 is rarely mentioned in biographies. I'll let this newspaper account from the New York Times tell the story.
Built in 1910 on the former site of the Metropole Hotel on Broadway and 42nd Street, the Heidelberg Building was a seven story Gothic style office building topped with an 11 stories high tower of scaffolding intended for advertising. This was a bold new idea at the time. But advertisers feared a sign that high could not be seen from the street, so signs rarely appeared on the tower. It was on this tower that Houdini did his escape.
According to the Times article, the stunt was filmed. While this footage has never surfaced, photos do exist. On page 10 of Houdini: A Pictorial Life by Milbourne Christopher are four photos that, while not credited as such, are almost certainly the Heidelberg escape.
This escape is interesting in that you can see in it the genesis of Houdini's suspended straitjacket escape, which would become his main outdoor stunt starting in 1915. I also like that Houdini could see the value of Times Square advertising scaffolding even when advertisers could not. Always ahead of his time!
The Heidelberg Building stood until 1984 when it was demolished to make way for new development. The site is now occupied by the 49-floor Times Square Tower. Try as I might, I could not find a photo of it.
Houdini's last outdoor stunt in Time Square was a suspended straitjacket escape from the Palace Theater in 1922. This is another feat that doesn't get much attention in biographies. That escape and the zany newspaper coverage I'll share next time I circle back to Houdini in Times Square.
Speaking of Houdini in New York, on July 13th I will be at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library speaking on...Houdini in New York! You can find more details HERE.