Even though Houdini had announced his retirement from vaudeville to make movies, in December 1921 he went back on the vaudeville circuit for a 10-week tour commencing Christmas week at B.F. Keith's in Boston. To publicize his return, Houdini did a suspended straitjacket escape from the Boston Post building on December 22. The temperature that day was a bone chilling 14 degrees with what was described as a "stinging Northwest gale." The escape benefited the "Santa Claus Fund" and marked Houdini's first such outdoor stunt since 1917.
Over the weekend I discovered a treasure trove of photos from this escape in the Boston Post. These beautifully capture Houdini's 1921 return to form.
Oh, and there's also film!
While this footage from George Eastman House is not dated, it is identified as being Boston and you can see it's clearly cold outside. You can also see a Christmas wreath in a window and Houdini is using the gigantic megaphone as seen in the above photos. So I'm certain this is December 22, 1921.
If you are wondering what Houdini is yelling to the crowd through that megaphone, the Post quotes him as saying:
"I risk my life for Santa Claus' fund, that Boston's poor children may find no stockings empty Christmas morning. Now you risk your dollars! Give to the fund which will help thousands of children to keep their faith in Santa!"
The Boston Post building stood at 259 Washington Street between Water and Devonshire. Here's the site of Houdini's escape today.
Below are some more notable Houdini suspended straitjackets escapes.