Thursday, July 15, 2021

Houdini in Hawaii (yes, Hawaii!)

Recently I was able to acquire this unpublished (reproduction) photograph showing Houdini and Bess in "Honolulu 1910." Houdini in Hawaii!? Until I saw this, I would have told you Houdini never visited the Aloha State. But here's proof that he did! Gotta love the leis around their necks. The other two women are unidentified.


This was almost certainly taken aboard the steamship Manuka when Houdini was returning from Australia. The ship ported in Suva, Fiji on May 17, so it likely ported in Honolulu around May 25. The local paper noted Houdini's presence, and even reported there were hopes he might perform in the city.

Honolulu Advertiser, May 26, 1910

Houdini's return from Australia via the Pacific was the final link in a journey that took him around the world. This made him eligible to join the Circumnavigators Club, which he did in 1912.

So, yes, the Houdinis went Hawaiian! If only for a day. Pretty wild.

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9 comments:

  1. Harry asked for the equivalent of $42,263.86 a week in salary. It's understandable why the theater managers balked. I didn't know his ship docked in Hawaii on its way to the U.S. Great photo!

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    1. That was pretty much what he was paid for a week at that time. Sometimes he got more. So he wasn't asking for anything above and beyond.

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    2. THAT is a lot of money! HH was obviously worth it but the theater managers thought otherwise. Did the ship dock in Fuji May 17th, or was it Fiji?

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    3. Oops. Typo. It was Suva, Fiji.

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  2. That ship also stopped in Wellington, New Zealand, Vancouver and Victoria BC. Any trace of HH there?

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    1. Do you have dates on those, David? All I know is Vancouver on June 1st. Thought that's where HH disembarked. But maybe not?

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  3. You know, there's an unidentified pic of HH standing on a palm tree on page 65 of Christopher's Pictorial Life. I've always thought it didn't quite match the other "world tour" photos on those pages, all of which appear to be ports on his way TO Australia. I wonder if that palm tree pic is Hawaii?

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  4. Has anyone ever researched Houdinis passport records or know if he even had one?

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    1. He had a passport. Don't know how to check the records on that or what kind of records they kept back then.

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