Monday, July 30, 2018

"My big wife"

Here's a photo of Bess at Houdini's grave in Machpelah Cemetery in 1927. This photo ran on Halloween, the first anniversary of Houdini's death. While I've seen many photos of Bess at the exedra, this is the only one I've seen her standing the bench (which makes me feel better about doing so myself). This really gives an idea of just how small she was. And she's no doubt wearing heels here! Nevertheless, Houdini still sometimes referred to Bess as "my big wife."


For comparison, here's a pic of me and Colleen Bak at the grave in 2017. (I'm 5'9".)


This 1927 "unveiling" of the grave monument can cause some confusion. Houdini himself had erected and unveiled the full exedra in 1916. But a year after his death, the bust and, I believe, the mosaic were added by the S.A.M. An official dedication ceremony attended by 500 people took place on Oct. 30, 1927, which is likely when the Bess photo was taken. Below is a full account from the New York Times.


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6 comments:

  1. John Hinson great nephew of Bess and Harry HoudiniJuly 30, 2018 at 10:02 AM

    Bess was 4 foot 11 and my grandmother was 5 feet.

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    1. Was she that tall? I feel like in some photos, including this one, she seems near 4 foot.

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  2. It would seem that we look like giants comparatively in those shots...I am 5'1" (and wearing very flat shoes there)

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    Replies
    1. I thought you might like this. But no kissing Harry's cheek for Bessie. :(

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    2. I do adore seeing Bess and Harry holding court among those stones....and, as to kissing Harry's cheek, I shall just have to imagine she sometimes brought along a step stool and did :)

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  3. Looks like she wanted a closer look of the bust. The man she had been married to for so many years became a stone face.

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