Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Backstage with Mr. Houdini

In the 1920s a New York Daily News columnist pen-named "Sally Joy Brown" would invite groups of children to Broadway shows and other various entertainments. All they had to do was write her a letter explaining a good deed they had done or some other similar instruction. In December 1925, Houdini arrived on Broadway with his 3 Shows in One at the 44th Street Theater. So Sally arranged a trip to see Houdini and even meet him backstage.

The exciting day was December 19, 1925, as you can read her column for that day:

It appears everyone had a great time, with Sally reporting the next day: "[Houdini] was wonderfully nice to the children backstage when we visited him in there before the show and made friends with them immediately."

And the best part of all this, there's a photo!

Click to enlarge.

Notice that Houdini is using his two large brass tubs to "produce" the children. It's commonly believed these tubs were used to fill his Water Torture Cell and/or Milk Can. But I'm now wondering if they were actually used as magic props in the 3 Shows in One? Or maybe this was just for the photo. Either-way, what a fabulous backstage moment to have captured in a pic.

Speaking of Houdini at the 44th Street Theater, here's a little gem that ran a few days later in the Daily News. Too good to not share.

Below are some more special shows (with unseen photos) that Houdini did for children.



  1. Great stuff John! Look at the faces of those kids! Harry is still in make up and stage suit. Prolly did a matinee show before the photo. I think the buckets were just for the photo.

  2. This is a delightful item! Thanks for sharing. Backstage tours with kids are always a lot of fun, but 200 kids in the narrow backstage areas of Broadway theaters is rather hard to imagine! I wonder if they divided them up with other performances or seated some of them in the house. In any case, Houdini looks like he was having fun!

  3. It is very evident, that Harry loved children. This picture is very heartwarming. "Stars" today should take note.