Thursday, March 28, 2019

Ken Trombly talks 'Houdini and the Spiritualists' April 6

Houdini collector and historian Ken Trombly will give a talk on "Houdini and the Spiritualists" at the Connie Morella Library in Bethesda on Saturday, April 6 at 1:30 pm. Ken will share his thoughts on Houdini’s relationship with spiritualism and its adherents, and share images from his collection.

Ken Trombly, a lifelong magic enthusiast, has given presentations about the life of Houdini for a variety of groups. In the 1980’s Ken began collecting original letters, photos and other ephemera dealing with Houdini’s amazing career. Pieces from Ken's collection have been displayed at the Jewish Museum in New York City, the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, and, most recently, as part of an exhibit on the life of Houdini at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, in Baltimore. Recently Ken was interviewed on a mini-series aired on the Science Channel entitled “Houdini’s Last Secrets.”

Saturday, April 6, 2019
1:30 pm

Connie Morella Library
7400 Arlington Road
Bethesda, MD

For more information visit the website for National Capital Area Skeptics.



  1. Having attended Trombly's lecture this afternoon I can say that it was quite an interesting event, and a great excuse to venture outside on a nice, sunny 70 degree day. I believe Ken's lecture was sponsored by the National Capital Area Skeptics based in the Washington D.C./Maryland/Virginia area. Scott Snell, the president of the NCAS was in attendance and gave Ken a great introduction.

    The contents of Ken's lecture were quite interesting but for Houdini experts the information is well known. Those attendants who were not familiar with Harry must have received good value for the hour they spent listening to Ken in the lecture room of the library. The highlights for me were the unpublished photos and letters that Ken shared from his Houdini collection:

    1. He opened his lecture with a photo portrait of a young Harry I've never seen before. Most likely from around 1900 to 1905.

    2. Another photo of a young Harry sitting in a chair with manacles on the floor and double exposure spirits floating around him.

    3. A 1925 telegram Harry sent to somebody( I forgot to write the recipient's name in my note page) noting his recent victory over Pierre Keeler, the fraudulent medium in Lily Dale, New York.

    4. A 1913 letter Harry wrote to Will Goldston right after learning of Mama's death. He's distraught and tells Goldston he's heading back to the U.S. ASAP.

    5. A letter Harry wrote to Dunninger informing him of the lawsuits he had been receiving from mediums. Harry tells Dunninger the huge amounts of the lawsuits against him are no joke.

    6. A broadside challenge poster for an escape from a safe at the Euston Palace. That broadside was in Houdini's collection cuz at the top he had typed "I escaped in 14 minutes."

    There were other interesting items like the broadside announcing Harry's lecture against fraud mediums for the Ministers of Greater NY at the Hippodrome, and a letter Harry wrote to then President Calvin Coolidge imploring him to take a stand against fraudulent mediums. Harry referred to Coolidge in the letter as "Your Excellency."

    1. Thanks so much for this, Leo! Sounds like Ken shared some real treasures.