Thursday, January 28, 2021

Harry Houdini's top hat

Inspired by Andrew Basso's recent acquisition of Houdini's tuxedo collar (my most visited new post of the year so far), here's another cherished piece of Houdini apparel; his top hat! This comes from the collection of John Hinson, the great nephew of Harry and Bess Houdini. The label shows it was made in London.



Despite the classic image of a magician in a top hat, as far as I know Houdini never wore or used a top hat on stage. Looks like his was for use in regular life. Below are two photos of Houdini in a top hat, the first being Paris in 1901 and the second from his movie Haldane of the Secret Service (made in 1921). Could one or both of these be this hat?


So as far as surviving Houdini clothing goes (and not counting straitjackets), I'm currently aware of the tuxedo collar, this top hat, his pajama pocket, and his baby shoes. If you know of anything else, please let us know in the comments below.

9 comments:

  1. Actually, I believe the two hats that are in the photos of Houdini and Hardeen, are in the collection of Tim Moore.

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    1. I wasn't aware of those. Would love to know the provenance.

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  2. It being well-known that Houdini often had a "swelled-head"...this begs the question:
    So, what was his Hat Size?

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    1. That was the question that made me reach out to John in the first place. Unfortunately, the hat doesn't say. I'd like to know!

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  3. I believe Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz own a vest once owned by Houdini.

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    1. Oh, yeah, that sounds familiar. But I don't recall ever seeing that.

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    2. The reason it sounds familiar is that we saw Dorothy and Dick perform a quick routine with it at the Premier of The Grim Game at the Egyptian Theatre. I also saw it when I visited the Houdini Museum in Scranton.

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    3. Ah, yes, it's all coming back to me now. :)

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  4. Exciting to see this gem! Thanks for sharing, John and John!

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