Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Mystifier, First Quarter 2001

Continuing my issue by issue look back at the Mystifier, the newsletter of the Houdini Historical Center that ran from 1991-2003.

The first quarter 2001 Mystifier features excerpts from a questionnaire Houdini filled out in Bess's autograph book in 1909. HHC curator Kimberly Louagie says, "An unusual piece of history, it gives some insight into the Handcuff King's psyche. Many of his answers revealed a man with simple tastes, a flair for sarcasm, and tongue-in-cheek comebacks." Below are a few examples:

Q. What characteristics do you most admire in a man?
A. Bashfulness.
Q. What do you consider your best quality?
A. My hatred for publicity.
Q. What gives you most annoyance?
A. Drawing my salary.
Q. Do you think women should take part in public life?
A. Yes...
Q. What is your favorite motto?
A. "Do others or they will do you."
Q. Whom do you consider the greatest magician of the present age?
A. "Rigo" the Gipsy.
Q. Whom do you consider the greatest author of the present age?
A. Modesty forbids me, writing my name!
Q. Who is your hero or heroine in life.
A. My mother-in-law.
Q. Name the composer whose music you enjoy.
A. Franz Kukol.

This is followed by a report on Sidney Radner's donation of an almost complete file of Houdini's Red Magic newspaper circular from 1924 to 1926. The newsletter also contains an except from one of the issues. Kimberly Louagie then provides a detailed overview of the 2000 Official Houdini Seance held at the Humphrey Scottish Rite Masonic Center.

In his "Backstage" column, Sid Radner reports on some recent mentions of Houdini's name in connection with famous sports figures, such as Chuck "Hitman" Hiter and Tiger Woods. He then asks readers to clip and send any mention of Houdini in newspapers or magazines with hopes that this could help convince the post office to go ahead with their proposed Houdini stamp.

Sid also notes that the March issue of Genii contains a two page story on the new Houdini Museum at the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. He then gives a shout out to the Houdini Club of Wisconsin and their upcoming convention at the Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton. "It's good to see Houdini's hometown welcome him back to enthusiastically," says Sid.

Volume 11, Number 1
First Quarter, 2001
6 pages

Q and A: Excerpts from an Interview with Houdini
Houdini's Red Magic
Seance Report
Backstage with Sid Radner



  1. Love the questionnaire. Sounded like an early form of the ones you would see in Tiger Beat. Bobby Sherman, what is your favorite color......

  2. Forgot to add I love the sarcasm in the comment "My hatred for publicity." Brilliant!

  3. Love that questionnaire! "Do others or they will do you" -- Take that, you upstarts and would-be competitors! Also nice that Harry mentions his mother-in-law with such admiration. But I wonder why he expresses annoyance at drawing his salary? ("This should be a lot more?!")

  4. Ken Trombly has a nice unpublished photo in his collection of Harry with his mother in law. They're standing outside somewhere that looks like Coney Island.