Friday, May 18, 2018

Were Bess and Ed Saint secretly married?

There has long been a rumor that Bess Houdini and Edward Saint were secretly married. Magician Arnold Furst, who knew the couple well, believed they were. But no evidence, such as a marriage certificate, has ever surfaced. Of course, no marriage certificate for Harry and Bess has ever surfaced either!

Recently while fleshing out the A.D. page of my New Houdini Chronology, I found this curious item in Ed Sullivan's 1938 Hollywood gossip column:

So is this where the marriage rumor got started? Possibly. But it makes no mention of Saint. Should we accept Bess's word that it isn't true? Or does this item present evidence it might have been true. At least this shows us the idea of a secret marriage was in the air ever at that time.

The date, April 19, 1938, might be suggestive. This is right around the time Bess and Ed began to have some middling success in the movies. Bess had just shot Religious Racketeers, and they had recently set-up a Houdini biopic at Paramount. So maybe they married in anticipation of a expected windfall of cash? Possibly it was more about consolidated assets than romance.

Anyway, just more to fuel the speculation!

Arnold Furst's recollections of Bess and Ed can be read in David Charvet's excellent cover profile of Bess Houdini in the October 1995 issue of MAGIC.



  1. I can't believe that she would have remarried. The Houdinis seemed so in love.

  2. Just a thought - wouldn't remarriage have invalidated her insurance pension payable on Houdini's death?

    1. I don't know. But I'm not sure she had an insurance pension. I thought she got it in a lump sum. But I don't know for sure.

  3. Thanks for this item... it has stirred fond memories of my days at Hollywood Magic. Arnold Furst used to come in periodically to keep us stocked up on "Fresh Fish." I am glad to have worked there at a time when many of the "old timers" were still with us. Matthew Arnold

  4. In that October 1995 Magic article, David noted that Hardeen in New York disapproved of Bess's behavior. Dash exclaimed that she was "living in sin" with Saint. So this means he was not aware of any marriage either, if there was one. Bess called Hardeen foolish since he had to have known they were a couple for some time.

  5. The question is....Was Harry married to Bessie?