In 1977 The New School in New York City offered a 10-week course called "The Incredible Houdini: The Man...The Myth...The Magic". It was taught by Gabriel Grayson and included a mouthwatering lineup of guest speakers. Last weekend Joe Notaro shared a flyer from the course showing that lineup of a-listers (click to view).
While doing a little more research I discovered something pretty wild. The New School Archives has a 2+ hour recording of a Houdini Seance held in their auditorium at 66 West 12th Street on Halloween 1977. While not part of the official curriculum, it was related to the course and open to the public. At the table was Milbourne Christopher, Bernard C. Meyer, Billie Dunninger, Morris N. Young, Louis Rachow, Henry Muller, and Sidney Radner. (Walter Gibson was ill and unable to attend.) The moderator was Gabriel Grayson.
It's not your typical Houdini seance in that the medium, Ethel Meyers (who played a role in the Amityville Horror hoax), quickly makes contact and "Houdini" speaks to the gathering in the first person. This means the experts at the table can ask questions of Houdini directly.
Did she/he pass scrutiny? If you want to hear for yourself, you can access both parts via the link below.
If you don't want to go to the trouble of listening, I can tell you that Meyers, after getting off to a good spooky start, bombs spectacularly when the questions begin. She...I mean, Houdini...cannot or will not answer even the most basic question. The knockout blow occurs when Sidney Radner asks, "What do the letters USD mean to you?" Her answer: "United States Detention Home."
One thing that has me intrigued is when Christopher asks details of a seance Houdini attended in January 1926. It's clear Christopher has Houdini's notes on this seance, but it's one I've never heard of. If anyone is aware of these notes or has the details, please give me a shout.
I'm also wondering if The New School recorded the course and guest speakers. To hear the remembrances of Houdini by Walter B. Gibson would be phenomenal. Also, Louis Rachow played the Houdini voice recording during his class on November 15. This marked the first time the recording was played publicly. How much of it did he play?
If anyone attended this course, please share your memories in the Comments below.
- Houdini's Movies
- Les merveilleux exploits de Houdini à Paris (1909)
- The Master Mystery (1918)
- The Grim Game (1919)
- Terror Island (1920)
- The Man From Beyond (1922)
- Haldane of the Secret Service (1923)
- Velvet Fingers (1925-26)
- Medium Well Done (1937)
- Religious Racketeers (1938)
- Houdini Picture Corp.
- Film Developing Corp.
- Filming locations
- Unmade Movies
- Deconstructing Houdini '53
- Beatrice Houdini
- Theo Hardeen
- Cecelia Weiss
- Mayer Samuel Weiss
- Jim Collins
- Franz Kukol
- Martin Beck
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- J. Gordon Whitehead
- Edward Saint
- Jacob Hyman
- Leopold Weiss
- Carrie Gladys Weiss
- Bernard M.L. Ernst
- Charmian London
- Jess Willard
- H.P. Lovecraft
- Sherlock Holmes
- Other magicians
- Full Bibliography
- By Houdini
- For Kids
- Wild About Harry Bookshelf
- Houdini His Life Story (1928)
- Houdini The Man Who Walked Through Walls (1959)
- Houdini The Untold Story (1969)
- The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini (1993)
- Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss (1997)
- The Secret Life of Houdini (2006)
- The Metamorphosis: The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini (2012)
- The Witch of Lime Street (2015)
- The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini (2019)