Potter & Potter have posted the online catalog for their May Magic Auction and it contains a generous selection of terrific Houdini rarities. But it's Lot 238 that really caught my eye. It's a letter written by Houdini to Arthur Buckle on November 28, 1903, in which he makes a startling admission:
"And to make matters worse, my eyesight, which has never been any too good, keeps me from writing after the daylight, and for me to attempt to write with the lights, that you generally find in the Provincal digs, it would only be foolhardy. So I am compelled to do all my writing by daylight!"
This is the only time I've ever heard Houdini say anything about having poor eyesight. And this is Houdini at age 29, so one can assume it only got worse. Of course, he had a blind sister (there are conflicting stories as to the cause), and his brother Leopold eventually went blind, so faulty vision may have run in the Weiss family.
I can only recall two other references to Houdini's eyesight being faulty. While I've never seen a photo of him in glasses, it's said Doug Henning owned a pair of Houdini's reading glasses given to him by Ruth Kavanaugh. And in his 2010 book, Houdini Question Reality, Dixie Dooley says magician Jimmy Grippo told him Houdini was blind in his left eye for the last two years of his life due to an accident.
Just another fascinating Houdini tidbit for us! Let's keep an eye out for anymore references to his Houdini faulty vision.
Potter & Potter's upcoming Magic Auction which will be held on Saturday, May 2nd starting at 10am, CDT. Due to Covid-19, the sale will be streamed live from Potter & Potter's gallery and held on www.potterauctions.com.