Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Houdinis and the Doyles...take an Uber?

On this 98th anniversary of the infamous Atlantic City seance, here's a photo of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lady Doyle, Bess and Houdini that I've not seen before. This was shared as the October 2015 "Treasure of the Month" at the Conan Doyle Collection website.

Click to enlarge.

I don't really know anything more about this image, other than it looks a little tight in that back seat. Someone can't sit up with the poor driver?

Soon I'll be sharing a "ghostly" Houdini-Doyle curiosity from the Fred Pittella collection. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: I'm going to make a guess that this is Denver, Colorado in May 1923. I believe the sign on the building behind them may read The Mile High Photo Co., which was a Denver business. At this time Houdini was performing at the Orpheum and Doyle was lecturing at the Ogden Theater.

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15 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Oops, I removed for a typo....

      Oh goodness, Bess looks so adorably teeny tiny here! The perspective just really emphasizes how small she was. This is a really neat photo!

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  2. Hi John!
    This is from a set of two photos in Denver, Colorado. They were taken in the week of October 21-24 (?) in 1924. In the background, there's the Mile High Photo Company, which firmly places these photos in Denver at 322 17th St. Houdini visited Denver several times in his life, but this visit included both cordial and tense meetings with the Doyles. They were lecturing about spiritualism at the same time in Denver, though from opposing points of view; Houdini in the Denver Auditorium and Doyle in the Ogden Theater.

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    1. Great, thank you Ted! Did you see my little update? I did notice the Mile High Photo sign in the background and guessed this might be Denver. Glad to have it confirmed! But I have Houdini and Doyle in Denver the week of May 7-13, 1923?

      Do you have a source for the 1924 lectures? I have HH in Texas on Oct 19 , Idaho on the 23rd, and Oakland on the 25th. Maybe there's a Denver stop I've missed?

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    2. I misspoke (wrote?), you are correct about the congruent Doyle/Houdini tour dates in May of 1923. Houdini was at the Orpheum theatre. However, he was also touring (without the company of Doyle) for his lecture "Can the Dead Talk to the Living" in Denver on the 21st of October in the Denver Auditorium this time. He gets a front-page feature in the Denver Post on October 22. I am able to send the full article. The headline reads "Houdini Talk Starts Near Riot in Denver Lecture on 'Spooks': Woman Spiritualist and Husband Engage Speaker in Row and Are Met by Challenge as Audience Clamors for Her Proof".

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    3. Tuesday October 21, 1924 I should say.

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    4. Sensational! Thank you, Ted. I did not have that Denver lecture in my chronology. Now I do. :)

      If it's no trouble to send me the article, that would be greatly appreciated. Sounds like it was quite a night! Contact

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  3. This struck me as odd that four people could sit in the back seat of this model of a sedan. I don't think it was cramped in fact it appears to me that Houdini and Bess are not in the car they are on the street standing on the other side of the car. Houdini is leaning against it with his arm hanging over the side panel while Bess is standing to his right. The car looks to be parked or stopped as the trolly car is passing behind them. Bess looks to be a few inches back from the car which explains why she looks even smaller than she usually does.

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    1. Oh, you know, that could be! Good eye.

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    2. I think Jack is right. Harry and Bess are standing outside the car. Not enough room in the back for all four of them.

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  4. Perhaps Bess might actually be standing behind the running board and this accounts for the "weird" angle making her look extra tiny.

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  5. Wonderful photo - thanks for sharing. That's quite a hat on the driver (Scottish, no doubt!)

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  6. The Brown Palace hotel was (and is) across the street from the location of Mile High Photo. It remains a high-end hotel, the sort of place that people like Houdini and Doyle would have stayed. I'd imagine that the photo was taken because one or both of them were staying there.

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    1. That is precisely where Houdini was staying that week! (Not sure about Doyle.)

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  7. In 1977 there was an big article in the Denver Post titled 'When Houdini and Doyle Met in Denver.' i saved it because i saved everything Houdini but, as a kid, i wasn't as interested in the spiritualism as in the escapes. i remember it being kind of a dull read but i was thrilled to see Harry in the newspaper.

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