Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Brothers Houdini take Buffalo

There is precious little material related to the Brothers Houdini (Houdini's first act). That's what makes this such a treat. This is an advertisement and review from Robinson's dime museum in Buffalo, New York, for the week of September 11, 1893. As you can see, the brothers were the hit of the "lecture room." I've included the full review as it's fun to read about the other acts on the bill. Enjoy this piece of early Houdini history.

The Buffalo Sunday Morning News, Sept. 10, 1893.

The Buffalo Commercial, Sept. 12, 1893.

The question I have is which "brother" Houdini was paired up with this week? Jack Hyman, Joe Hayman, or Houdini's own brother Dash? We may never know.


  1. According to Silverman HH first teamed up with Jacob Hyman. They performed in the Columbian midway and in theaters/dime museums in upstate New York and the Midwest. Jacob left in early 1894 and his brother Joe took his place, followed by Dash. I'd guess it was Jacob in this September 11, 1893 Buffalo performance.

    1. It may very well have been Jacob, but…

      Per a blog post by Dean Carnegie:

      “Jacob become the partner in the original Houdini Brothers act in 1891. But for how long is in question, because by May of 1891, Jacob enlisted in the Army and was there until 1893. While away, Joe Hyman took over the role.

      In 1893, the original Houdini Brothers, Jacob who was now out of the Army, Harry, along with Dash, Houdini's actual brother were performing at the Chicago World's Fair.

      Their partnership lasted until 1894 when Jacob decided to go out on his own. Harry then teamed up again with Joe Hyman, Jacob's brother, and then with Theo (Dash) who was Harry's brother. All of this happened over a six month period because in June of 1894, Harry met Bess Rahner and married her and the Houdini Brothers got dumped in favor of 'The Houdinis'.”

      Dean ‘s blog post also has a November 1893 photo which may be Houdini and Jacob at the Kohl & Middleton Dime Museum in Chicago, Ill.

    2. Yeah, it wasn't as clean as Silverman suggests. I have a feeling it was whatever "brother" was available at the time and it could have even varied gig to gig. I think the only constant was Harry.

    3. Nice catch Joe! That's a great photo of HH and Jacob at the Chicago World's Fair. A great blog post by Dean! Dash also worked the fair so HH worked with both Jacob and his brother in this gig.

  2. You are correct in a different post to credit Houdini in inventing this illusion. I have search and did not find anyone doing anything like it. All of the earlier versions had people escaping from it. Or having the box locked and person magically entering it.

    The fast change implemented by Houdini does not show up anywhere else. If anyone has any proof of it, I would be glad to see it because I would love to have that on record.