Tuesday, July 30, 2019

"For a minute the air was full of flying bracelets"

Here's a wonderful cartoon from The Philadelphia Inquirer illustrating Houdini's act at B.F. Keith's Theater on January 8, 1912. What I especially like here is that it tells us Houdini would throw handcuffs from his cabinet as he freed himself from each pair. I can imagine the applause with the appearance of each cuff, and how it would build as a rain of cuffs appeared. And then Houdini would bound free at the end. Fantastic.

Click to enlarge.

You might be wondering how it's possible that this shows Houdini doing handcuff escapes in 1912 when he had famously abandoned the Handcuff Act years earlier. This is not a mistake. In November 1911, Houdini broke a blood vessel while doing a straitjacket escape in Detroit. The injury was serious enough that he cancelled a week's engagement in Toledo and rested on doctor's orders.

When he returned in the first week of December, he brought back the handcuffs to replace what was normally an opening straitjacket escape. So this cartoon also nicely captures a unique moment in time. The temporary return of the "flying bracelets."


1 comment:

  1. The Milk Can was still in rotation. The straitjacket, needles, and the USD were to be his core act.