Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Cecil M. Cook exposé

One of Houdini's most famous spirit exposés was that of the trumpet medium Mrs. Cecil M. Cook at her home at 41 West 88th Street in New York City on July 1, 1925. Houdini attended the seance in disguise. Here's an AP account from The Ithaca Journal that briefly explains what went down.

The building where this took place still stands and my guess is it doesn't look all that different, at least on the outside, than it did on the day of that fateful seance. 

Below is a photo of Houdini in his medium catching disguise. Houdini was no stranger to disguises. During his Handcuff Kings days he would attend performances of rival escape kings in disguise and wait for an opportune moment to reveal himself and challenge them. One wonders if he drew his inspiration for disguises from the Sherlock Holmes stories, of which he was fan.

Despite Houdini's high profile exposé, Mrs. Cook continued her spiritualistic career, and even wrote a book called The Voice Triumphant: The Revelations of a Medium. A search of the contents via Google Books doesn't turn up any mention of Houdini. This probably shouldn't be a surprise. That was one time the Voice certainly wasn't Triumphant!



  1. Hello... are you still curating this website? I have a question for you.

    1. Happy to answer any question, Thelma.

    2. I am not sure you received my previous reply. As soon as I pressed the preview button, the word Publish popped up.

    3. My initial reply concerned the small building to the left of the front entrance to the Knickerbocker Hotel. A lot of us would go there in the early 90's after choir practice. We used to order our coffee and desserts that were visible via a glass concession stand that had a uv light within it that looked to be rather old, as were the velvet sofa couches and the same red velvet curtains you now see today. That place had an eery feel to it as if we were in film set dated to victorian times despite the pool tables in there. Just wondering if you knew of any seances or other metaphysical activities that took place there which would explain the eery vibe we felt every time. And we had no idea of the hotel's connection to Houdini either. I am curious because that small building has its own door entrance and the same red velvet curtains conceal the entire room perfectly.

    4. I'm afraid I don't anything about that small building. I never actually noticed it. Too bad. It's sounds cool! Was it part of the Knickerbocker? If so, I expect it's now buttoned up as tightly as the hotel, now a retirement home.

    5. is very much a part of the can't miss it. And the red velvet curtains are a bit strange too. I kept thinking while we were there as to why the red curtains all the way round? Even the glass entrance door had its own curtain. And cannot help but recall on one of your articles in this web Houdini library of yours how there was a red item present in these seances. I can send you pictures I took this past Wednesday.

    6. Thanks Thelma. I'm excited to hear there's a part of the Knickerbocker that one can still go into. I'll need to check this place out! Sounds wild.

  2. Hi David,

    I have a friend of mine Rebecca Fearing (who is a famous psychic on TV and Radio) who held a streaming Halloween party last night. I mentioned she look into Houdini to see what she could pick up on him and she made a recording of her session. She has a radio/sound engineer named Jeff who cleaned up the recording and she says they could hear punching sounds as if someone was punching something and then she heard a lady say "5". She did not know that these were punching sounds that Houdini had experienced prior to his death. The lady saying "5" out loud meant that he got punched 5 times. Rebecca did not know any of this information till today (11/1). She says she is going to try to record her session with Houdini again. I can give you her phone number but this would have to be by a separate email.