Thursday, September 30, 2021

Opening up 'Houdini's Lost Diaries'

The BBC produced Houdini's Lost Diaries appears to have been very popular with those who caught its debut on History's Greatest Mysteries last Tuesday. (Thanks to everyone who sent me kind words about my own small part.) If you're a cord-cutter like me and missed that initial airing, know you can now stream the episode free for one week at the HISTORY website. You can also buy the episode on Amazon Prime, which is exactly what I did last night.

Even though I'm not a fan of the quick-cut, sound-clipy style of HISTORY shows (and that bombastic music), I thought this documentary was cut above in every other aspect. It really does feel we get something new here. There are several photos I've never seen before. They eschew all the easy mythology and work to get their facts right. I especially liked how they characterize Ehrich Weiss as making a conscious effort to transform into the mythic HOUDINI. It's a well told story.

The line-up of talking head experts is also impressive. But it's Teller who steals the show by not only speaking on-screen for the first time in a Houdini documentary, but tearing up twice. It's also a joy to see the great Patrick Culliton, "Houdini's Ghost", back in front of the camera talking Houdini.

So what about the diaries? While offering no real bombshell revelations, there is still gold. The fact that Houdini paid some challengers isn't new, but I love that he apparently coded these payments in the diaries as "be quick." The diaries are really used more to provide the kind of deep character insight that you don't get in other Houdini documentaries. Many pages are shown on-screen, and you can bet I'll be doing some pausing! Bill Kalush, who also gives a rare on-screen interview, is described as "the custodian of the diaries."

I was a little surprised by the sparse use of film footage. Instead they relied heavily, maybe too heavily, on reenactment photographs. And where the heck is Bess!? They also fall into the familiar narrative trap of jumping from Mama's death to spiritualism, ignoring Houdini's war work and movie career. However, they do not conflate his mother's death with spiritualism and correctly root it in his relationship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Spiritualism comes in for the harshest treatment of any Houdini documentary, with Penn Jillett taking off the gloves and likening it to organized crime. Sounds right.

In the end, they do amp up the sensationalism around Houdini's death and hint at possible murder, which I guess is just de rigeur for anything that airs on HISTORY. But they ultimately come down on the side of reason and discount any conspiracy.

Houdini's Lost Diaries is definitely one to watch. The option to stream free or buy on Amazon Prime appears to only be available to U.S. viewers at the moment. But as this was made by the BBC, I expect it will be getting a UK airing sooner than later. Below is an extended preview.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The silent cinema of Harry Houdini

It's my pleasure to offer up my contribution to the Silent Movie Day Blogathon which is being co-hosted by Silent-ology and In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. My topic? Take a guess...

It's probably the least known part of Houdini's storied career that he made several silent movies and even ran his own movie studio for a time. This may be because his foray into the movies is considered one of his few failures. But during the waning days of vaudeville his movies kept his name and exploits before the public and only increased his fame. And the fact that his movies are still screened and enjoyed 100 years later is certainly some form of cinematic success.

So for National Silent Movie Day today, I thought I'd offer a rundown of Houdini's movies; the good, the bad, and how they can be seen today.

The Master Mystery (1918)
While Houdini had made a short film in Paris in 1909 (Les merveilleux exploits de Houdini à Paris), his first real entry into narrative cinema was a 15-part serial called The Master Mystery. Independently produced through Octagon Films, The Master Mystery was shot in and around New York and New Jersey. The first episode debuted in November 1918. The serial was aggressively advertised with Houdini making personal appearances at movie houses. It proved to be a surprising success, although Houdini would later have to sue Octagon for his share of the profits.

The plot of The Master Mystery finds Houdini as Department of Justice agent Quentin Locke infiltrating International Patents who are buying up breakthrough inventions for the sole purpose of repressing them. One of these inventions is a hulking robot called The Automaton, who leads a gang against Locke at every turn. It's wonderful stuff with Houdini/Locke escaping two death traps per episode. The movie co-stars Marguerite Marsh and Ruth Stonehouse and was directed by Burton King. The Automaton is said to be cinema's very first robot. I'll leave that for others to debate.

The Master Mystery was released on VHS in 1998 and then as part of Kino's Houdini The Movie Star DVD set in 2008. That DVD is now out of print and the serial has yet to make it to streamers, but it can be found on YouTube. However, this commercial version is severely truncated, missing many escapes and some episodes entirely. The complete serial does survive in the collection of the Packard Humanities Institute and can be viewed at the UCLA Archives. Here's hoping the full version will be released some day because it is a delight.

The Grim Game (1919)
The success of The Master Mystery got the attention of Hollywood, and in 1919 Houdini headed to the coast to make The Grim Game for Famous Players-Lasky. The movie was shot in and around Los Angeles and Hollywood and became newsworthy when two planes collided in mid-air while filming a stunt. The footage of the plane crash would remain in the movie and featured heavily in advertising, although the fact that it was a stuntman and not Houdini involved in he accident was kept secret. The movie was directed by Irvin Willat and co-stars Ann Forrest and Mae Busch.

The Grim Game is well-tailored to Houdini and easily his best movie. The Hitchcockian plot still holds up today. Houdini plays reporter Harvey Hanford who sets out to prove the folly of circumstantial evidence by framing himself for the "murder" of his fiancée's uncle whom he knows is simply away on business. But when the man turns up dead, Hanford suddenly finds himself accused of the crime and in a master frame of his own creation that takes would take a Houdini to escape.

The Grim Game was considered a lost film until TCM acquired the last known print from collector Larry Weeks and debuted a restored version at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood in 2015. The movie aired on TCM that same year. But it has never repeated and a planned DVD release never materialized. It is currently streaming on the TV Time app. Here's hoping someone will license the home video rights, which are available via Park Circus, and do a proper DVD release of this Houdini's best film.

Terror Island (1920)
Impressed by The Grim Game, Famous Players-Lasky decided to rush a second Houdini movie into production before the end of 1919. Houdini postponed a European tour and returned to Hollywood to begin work on Terror Island. The film was shot at the Lasky Hollywood studio and on location in Riverside and Catalina Island. This time the director was James Cruze and co-starred Lila Lee.

Terror Island finds inventor Harry Harper (Houdini) seeking sunken treasure and the missing father of the heroine on a South Seas island populated by cannibals and criminals out to secure the treasure for themselves. The movie showcases innovative underwater photography, but even at the time the plot was considered old fashioned and more suited to a serial. The movie did not achieve the creative or commercial success of Houdini's previous work, and despite promises of more films to come, Terror Island marked his last Hollywood production.

Terror Island is available on DVD, streaming and YouTube. However, this only surviving print, sourced from the Library of Congress, is missing two reels containing two of the movie's three escapes. So modern viewers must contend with this and the stereotypical portrayal of the natives typical of adventure movies of this era. But it's still Houdini and it does contain some classic early Hollywood thrills.

The Man From Beyond (1922)
Hollywood may have cooled on Houdini as a movie star, but Houdini was still willing to bet on himself. In 1921 he formed the Houdini Picture Corporation and produced two films back to back. The first was The Man From Beyond, shot at the Tilford Cinema Studios in Manhattan and on location in Lake Placid, New Jersey, and Niagara Falls. The Master Mystery director Burton King returned and Houdini's co-star was fellow vaudevillian Jane Connolly in her only movie role. The script was written by Houdini himself and it shows.

The Man From Beyond tells the story of a man frozen in Arctic ice for 100 years. He's discovered by two explores and thawed out in 1920 where he meets the reincarnation of his long lost love. The film is a strange amalgamation of action and melodrama that reflects Houdini's growing interest in spiritualism at this time. While the entire enterprise seems amateurish, especially when compared to Houdini's Hollywood productions, it's still a compelling document of Houdini's psyche and the thrilling climax at Niagara Falls still holds up.

The Man From Beyond has always been the Houdini film most accessible to the public. Prints were sold in 16mm and 8mm as early as the 1960s. It was also released on VHS by Video Yesteryear in the 1980s. Today several versions are available on DVD and there's even a Blu-Ray restoration. It's also available for streaming and on YouTube.

Haldane of the Secret Service (1923)
The second and last movie made by the Houdini Picture Corporation was Haldane of the Secret Service. The movie was shot in and around New York in 1921. Additional footage taken during Houdini's European tour the previous year was incorporated into the film to give it a globetrotting flavor. Burton King returned to direct, although his name does not appear on the surviving credits. Houdini is now generally credited as director, writer and star. Gladys Leslie co-stars. While Houdini distributed The Man From Beyond via state rights, Haldane was released by FBO in 1923.

Haldane of the Secret Service returns to formula action with Houdini playing Department of Justice agent Heath Haldane on the trail of counterfeiters and a mysterious gang boss known as Mr. Yu. The movie isn't as bad as its reputation, and Haldane/Houdini's escape from a giant water wheel is one of his best. However, the movie was poorly received  and even Houdini didn't do much promotion for it. But by 1923 he was on his way to a new career exposing fraudulent mediums and happy to leave movies behind.

Haldane of the Secret Service was unavailable for many years until a complete print was screened at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles in 2007. This led to a DVD release. Today it can be found on streaming and on YouTube.

I hope you enjoyed this brief retrospective of Harry Houdini's silent film work. Happy National Silent Movie Day!

The Man From Beyond poster image courtesy the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Phantasm Mama

Inspired by last week's post about "Hidden Houdinis", magician Ash Adams sends over this shot from the 1979 horror cult classic Phantasm. Look at this tombstone closely. Hello Mama!

So is this a deliberate nod to Cecelia Weiss? Maybe not. This appears to be part of the exedra that was used in the 1976 television biopic The Great Houdinis. According to Ash, the production rented the tombstones from 20th Century Fox. The Great Houdinis was filmed largely on the Fox lot, although the graveyard scenes were shot at Home of Peace Memorial Park in East Los Angeles (you can tour that with me here). So the selection of this tombstone might have just been a happy accident.

I've always wondered what happened to The Great Houdinis mockup exedra, especially the bust of Houdini/Glaser. Now we know that it went to the Fox property depart and was still there in 1979. Would love to think it might still be there today!

Below is the real exedra marker for Mama. This was her original standalone headstone from 1913 that was later incorporated into the exedra in 1916.

Thank you Ash!

Monday, September 27, 2021

Inside David Copperfield’s History of Magic

The promotion for David Copperfield's upcoming book David Copperfield’s History of Magic is going strong with DC sharing this terrific video on his Twitter showing some of the Houdini treasures in his museum.

David Copperfield’s History of Magic will be released on October 26. You can pre-order on (U.S.) and (UK).


Sunday, September 26, 2021

LINK: Watch Houdini's high flying stunt

Today's excerpt from High Lights in the Strenuous Career of Harry Houdini shows Houdini in high flying action. But as this footage is from The Grim Game, this is really one for the great Joe Notaro at Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence to share and comment on. So click the headline and check it out at HHCE!

Friday, September 24, 2021

'Houdini's Lost Diaries' will be revealed Tuesday

This Tuesday, September 28, a major new BBC produced Houdini documentary by award winning filmmaker Simon George will debut as part of History's Great Mysteries on the HISTORY channel. It's called Houdini's Lost Diaries. As the title implies, the filmmakers were granted unique access to the diaries still held and tightly controlled by the descendants of Houdini's lawyer Bernard Ernst.

I was involved with this as an occasional consultant and will be appearing onscreen along with heavyweights such as Mike Caveney and Patrick Culliton (yes, "Houdini's Ghost" appeared for this one!). I've not seen the finished film, but I did see various incarnations of the script. So I know they did mine gold from the diaries! While I interpreted some entries differently from the filmmakers, I'm optimistic they will temper the sensationalism that HISTORY requires (and their promo suggests) and we'll finally get a Houdini doc that breaks new ground and provides fresh insight. Guess we'll find out together!

Houdini's Lost Diaries airs this Tuesday on HISTORY. I believe it will stream free on the website for a week. You'll also be able to buy the episode via Amazon Prime.

Below is a behind the scenes photo courtesy of actor and magician Paul Zenon who participated in several of the reenactments. What the heck is going on here? It's all in the diaries!

UPDATE: My review and where to watch: Opening up 'Houdini's Lost Diaries'.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Hardeen at the Prospect

Here's a nice shot of Hardeen with a challenge packing case from the March 24, 1933 Brooklyn Daily Eagle. This is when Hardeen was appearing at the RKO Prospect Theater in Brooklyn not too far from where he lived. I'm always surprised how tall these boxes were, and this image shows that clearly. Note the mention of a Houdini display in the theater lobby.

Houdini himself played the Prospect in November 1914 and April 1916 (accepting a beer challenge from the Interboro Brewing Co. on April 13). The theater was converted to retail space in 1967, but the building still stands today. In fact, remains of the theater can still be found inside.

Below are posts with some more images of challenge packing crates.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A Brief History of Houdini's Water Torture Cell

Today I'm thrilled to help celebrate International Escapology Day with a brief history of Houdini's greatest escape. Oh, and that picture I promised. Enjoy!

Visit the official International Escapology Day page on Facebook to watch more videos and live presentations all day long!

Thanks to Andrew Basso, Allan James Taylor, and everyone at the GEO for letting me join the celebration.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Hidden Houdinis

Recently I spotted some more "Hidden Houdinis" on TV. I always snap a photo of these and enjoying sharing them.

This first one showed up in the documentary Val (Amazon Prime). This is actually a clip from the 1985 movie Real Genius. On the bedroom wall behind actor Gabriel Jarret you can spot the famous photo of Houdini in chains taken in Holland in 1903.

"Dinner Party" is one of the very best episodes of The Office (Peacock). I've seen it many times, but I only just now spotted Houdini's "Europe's Eclipsing Sensation" poster on a bench behind actress Beth Grant near the end. This appears to be part of an advertisement for the Houdini Museum in Scranton. Because the show is set in Scranton, Hidden Houdinis appear throughout the series.

Spot any "Hidden Houdinis" recently? Let us know in the comments below.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

LINK: Houdini Q&A in Weird Tales

Our friend Joe Notaro at HHCE has a Houdini Q&A on his blog today. We love Q&A time! This comes from the April 1924 issue of Weird Tales magazine, which also contains Houdini's shorty story, "The Hoax of the Spirit Lover". I especially like Houdini's simple advice on seance room control:

"In order to guard yourself in the future, when you go into a seance room, insist on holding the medium’s hand in your own. You do the holding, and do not allow the medium to hold you." 

Click the headline above to check out the full Q&A at Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Houdini Lost and Found, October 20

I'm honored to have been invited to speak as part of the American Museum of Magic's 2021 Magic Speaker Series. This will be a virtual ZOOM event at 7pm EST on October 20, 2021. Below are details.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Poster for Houdini's Grand Magical Revue

Over the weekend a poster for Houdini's 1908 appearance at the Circus Brusch in Germany sold on eBay. I mentioned that I had seen that poster along with another for Houdini's "Grand Magical Revue" at Wilshire Coin in Santa Monica in 2016. Here's a photo I took that day of that other poster.

The Grand Magical Revue with a short-lived attempt by Houdini to mount a straight magic show in England in 1914. He only presented it a dozen times. This poster is for the last known performance at the Empire Theatre in Nottingham on June 12, 1914.

Both this and the Circus Brush poster came from the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Canada. Both are heavily lacquered. There are a few surviving Grand Magical Revue posters, but what's nice about this one is it lists "De Kolta's Marvellous Cube" among the illusions to be performed. This poster appears on page 101 of Houdini His Life and Art by James Randi and Burt Randolph Sugar.

I've not seen this poster since that day back in 2016, but it was for sale along with the Circus Brush poster. Perhaps that means we will see it appear on eBay as well?

UPDATE: Looks like this poster has inspired some reproductions over the years, as seen below. The one on the left was part of a "Houdini Portfolio" from the 1970s. On the right is a reproduction created by the Houdini Historical Center in 1995 (thanks to Chunk Romano for the image). Looks like the HHC felt the need to add a photo of Houdini in chains, which is incongruous on a poster advertising him as a straight Magician.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Watch Houdini's L.A. Examiner straitjacket escape

Today I have another excerpt from 'High Lights in the Strenuous Career of Harry Houdini, Edited and Compiled by Houdini's Brother Hardeen'. This rare footage comes from the collection of escape artist Rick Maisel who has kindly granted me permission to share select clips here on WILD ABOUT HARRY.

There is no shortage of film showing Houdini's suspended straitjacket escapes. It's possible he filmed every one of these outdoor stunts, which by my current count numbers 67! Much of this film exists in unidentified fragments. But what we have here is something very special. Not a second of this film has ever been seen before, and the location is....well, I will let you watch and see if you recognize it for yourself.

Okay, so this is Houdini's famous suspended straitjacket escape from the Los Angeles Examiner building on April 4, 1923. Houdini was performing at the nearby Orpheum Theater at this time. This was his second suspended straitjacket escape in the city (the first being in 1915). And before someone puts it in the comments, yes, this is the Pawn Stars straitjacket he's using this day.

Front page coverage in the Los Angeles Examiner, April 5, 1923.

What makes this footage extra special is the Examiner building is still standing. In fact, the building has recently undergone a massive restoration and now houses its first new tenant (ASU). In preparation for this post, I visited the site on Sunday and and took a few few pics. It looks great and I'd say this is one of the best surviving Houdini stunt locations. And now we have film from that day!

Thanks to Brad Hansen of Retro Cars Forever for his editing assistance. A playlist of these clips can be found on the WILD ABOUT HARRY YouTube Channel. And there's more to come!


Monday, September 13, 2021

Ransom Center Milk Can poster reproduction

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin is offering a reproduction of the authentic Houdini Milk Can poster in their collection. While you can find many reproductions of this poster online, the Ransom Center's is the only one that is faithful to the original, showing the accurate colors, etc. This is the only one I would ever buy. In fact, I think I will! Here's hoping this might open to door to some more poster reproductions from the HRC.

Speaking of the Harry Ransom Center and posters, at the recent TAOM convention--which featured a presentation by Curator Eric Colleary--attendees received this special reproduction of the two Vanishing Elephant poster prototypes in the Ransom Center's collection. These are not available to buy and will certainly become collectors items.

You can purchase the Harry Ransom Center's Houdini Milk Can poster at their online store.


Sunday, September 12, 2021

1908 Circus Busch playbill sells on eBay

A rare playbill for Houdini at the Circus Busch in Berlin in 1908 sold in a one day Buy It Now auction on eBay yesterday. It was initially listed for $5000, but then reduced to $2500. The seller was The Record Parlour, a vintage record and memorabilia store in Hollywood.

The listing didn't provide any provenance, but I can. This was part of a four poster display at the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Canada. It was auctioned in 1999 and wound up at Wilshire Coin in Santa Monica, where I got a look at it in 2016. At the time the owner was looking to sell this along with another poster for Houdini's Grand Magical Revue. (You can see that poster HERE.)

As far as the playbill itself, it certainly checks out historically. Houdini opened at the Circus Busch the week of August 31, 1908. This advertises his appearance on Saturday, October 3, which was midway through his eight week run. Houdini was featuring his Milk Can at this time. The photo of Houdini in cuffs is from 1904.


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Genii & Hardeen: August 1942

Here's an update to my Genii & Houdini series from 2012. Back then I was on the fence about including this issue as it's a Hardeen cover without much mention of Houdini inside. Also, I didn't have a copy. But I do now, so what the heck. We love Dash, and this was his first Genii cover, so...

The issue includes a nice snappy profile of Hardeen's life and career, culminating with his current run on Broadway in the Olsen and Johnson hit show, Hellzapoppin.

It is notable that Hardeen is the legal successor today. And I think, when Hardeen is playing Broadway that if Houdini could look down and talk, he'd say–– "Nice going, brother, nice going."

A nice quote from Bess also appears at the end of Gerrie Larsen's Magical's column. She's following in the footsteps of her Harry, pushing War Bonds in this new time of need.

Click here for a list of all the Genii-Houdini cover issues. We were overdue for a new cover in 2012, so I would say we are now WAY overdue!

Friday, September 10, 2021

International Escapology Day, Sept. 21, 2021

The Global Escapology Organisation (GEO) is hosting the very first "International Escapology Day" on September 21, 2021. The GEO's mission is to "celebrate, sponsor and promote the art of escape and fellow escape artists." If September 21st sounds familiar, it should! Here's a short video I made for the GEO that explains.

For more information on International Escapology Day events and to see more videos, visit the official page on Facebook. And if you are an escape artist or active in the art of escape, consider joining the Global Escapology Organisation's Facebook Group.

UPDATE: Here we go: A Brief History of Houdini's Water Torture Cell.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Watch a Houdini underwater rope escape

Here's another excerpt from High Lights in the Strenuous Career of Harry Houdini, Edited and Compiled by Houdini's Brother Hardeen. (Hey, could we consider this the first Houdini documentary?) This rare footage comes from the collection of escape artist Rick Maisel who has kindly granted me permission to share select clips here on WILD ABOUT HARRY.

This time we see an impressive underwater rope escape from start to finish. Fragments of this footage have shown up from time to time. But like the Houdini-Kellar Rope Tie, this clip appears largely complete. And the end with Houdini climbing back up on the wharf and blowing us a kiss (!) is entirely new to me. So drink it in!

The big question here is why, when, and where was this shot? In 1917 Houdini performed an underwater escape in Atlantic City in which he stipulated that he should be "thrown head first" into the water. That is certainly what we see here. But in that challenge he was shackled, not roped, and this is clearly Houdini at a later date. Also, this doesn't appear to be a public challenge. Where is the crowd? 

The extensive "coverage" of shots suggests to me that this was done specifically to create this film clip, not unlike the famous monk "challenge" filmed on the set of Haldane of the Secret Service. As to location, there is one clue in the footage itself. Near the end a barge (or ferry?) passes behind the group bearing the name and logo of the New York Central System.

Doing some research, I found that the New York Central railway had a ferry connection in Weehawken, New Jersey. That is where Houdini's film lab was located. So this could very well could be Weehawken wharf in 1921 when Houdini was most active in making his films.

By the way, in the 1970 BBC documentary The Truth About Houdini there is a shot from this same stunt that shows Houdini falling back into the water after the rope break or slips. This "outtake" is yet another reason I think this was staged for the cameras only.

Hope you enjoyed this rare clip. In the next installment I will share footage that is 100% unseen and from a notable outdoor escape.

Thanks to Brad Hansen of Retro Cars Forever for his editing assistance. A playlist of these clips can be found on the WILD ABOUT HARRY YouTube Channel.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

LINK: In the Shadow of Houdini

Our friend Tim King gave a lecture at this year's PulpFest called "In the Shadow of Houdini." Tim has been doing some groundbreaking research into Walter B. Gibson and the influence Houdini had in the creation of Gibson's The Shadow. I'm especially excited to hear he is working on a book.

Tim King discusses “In the Shadow of Houdini,” a look at the magical secrets of fictioneer Walter B. Gibson and the stories he wrote of The Shadow. King is a career investigator for the military and intelligence services, and a member of the Society of American Magicians. He has a forthcoming book also titled In the Shadow of Houdini. This event was recorded on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at PulpFest 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Click the headline to listen to the full audio from Tim's presentation at

LINK: Larger than Life: Harry Houdini & Mickey Cohen

Paranormal investigator Scott Markus has a nice post on his blog What's YOUR Ghost Story? about Houdini and gangster Mickey Cohen. Scott explains:

I love the concept of taking two seemingly opposite figures in history, putting them up next to one another and then seeing what types of comparisons we can draw and what ironies might present themselves. I’m not fully trying to do that here, but I can’t keep myself from doing it entirely.

Scott touches on a lot of Houdini Los Angeles history in this delightful and original read. So click the headline to check it out What's YOUR Ghost Story?

Monday, September 6, 2021

LINK: Ennyman's Territory: A Visit with John Cox

Today I'm pleased to share a new interview with Ed Newman at his eclectic and always enjoyable blog Ennyman's Territory.

I discovered John Cox in 2014 after writing about the late John Bushey's Houdini memorabilia and handcuff collections. Seven years have past and the Wild About Harry blog is still going strong. I caught up with John Cox today and we continued from where we left off... 

Click the headline to have a read at Ennyman's Territory (Ed has also published it on Medium). And feel free to leave a comment.

Thank you Ed!


Sunday, September 5, 2021

Houdini in a tight(s) spot

Here's another unpublished (reproduction) photo that I recently acquired. Here we see Houdini bound in a nice web of shackles. But what makes this image so unusual is that he's dressed in what appear to be tights. I've never seen any other image of Houdini in any sort of tights, nor have I ever heard of him wearing tights during any escape. Yet here's a pic of him doing just that!

My only speculation is perhaps this photo is from one of his tours with the Corty-Althoff Circus in Germany where tights may have been the fashion? If so, this just illustrates once again how little we know about his performances in this part of the world.

Houdini also appears older here, so this could be his 1913 tour with Corty-Althoff (his first engagement after his mother's death). But it's also untypical to see Houdini in a web of shackles so long after his "Handcuff King" days. So this photo is really a mystery on top of a mystery.

Friday, September 3, 2021

'Houdini Way' appears in Kingsland, Texas

Yesterday members of the the Texas Association of Magicians (T.A.O.M.) magically unveiled a street sign for the new "Houdini Way" in Legendary Estates on Lake LBJ in Kingsland, Texas. This is the first street in Texas to be named in honor of Houdini.

You can view the magic moment below:

The Texas Association of Magicians (T.A.O.M.) 2021 Convention begins today in Austin and runs through September 6. The event kicks off this morning with a special tour of the Houdini Collection at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.

Coincidentally, the city of Salem, Massachusetts designated their own "Houdini Way" in July. Let's keep 'em coming!

Thanks to Scott Wells of The Magic Word Podcast for the news and images.

UPDATE: Scott has covered the unveiling event on his Magic Word Podcast HERE.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Take a virtual tour of the HRC Houdini collection Friday

The Texas Association of Magicians (T.A.O.M.) will hold their 2021 Convention in Austin this weekend, September 3-6. The event kicks off this Friday with a special tour of the Houdini Collection at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. The good news anyone can join the tour LIVE on Zoom. Below are the details: 

Join us this Friday morning September 3rd for a LIVE virtual tour of Houdini artifacts from the University of Texas, Ransom Center, Austin, Texas presented by Dr. Eric Colleary. This very special “kick-off” for the Texas Association Of Magicians (T.A.O.M.) is open to all at NO COST and a unique opportunity to see some of the collection that few ever get to see in their lifetime. The Ransom Center houses an amazing collection of Houdini ephemera including papers, documents, correspondence, and artifacts associated with the magician, escape artist, business man, aviator, author, and actor popularly known as Harry Houdini. Dr. Colleary will take us through an assortment of memorabilia with stops along the way as responds to your questions.

This will be a 45-minute Zoom Meeting starting at 10:30 a.m. Central Standard Time (GMT-5) and the Zoom room link will be:

This is not part of the T.A.O.M. convention but after viewing this event, you might be interested in registering for this weekend’s VIRTUAL event. The live, in-person convention will be supplemented with a virtual event which you can attend. You can register for any or all of the five separate events for $20 each. Visit THIS PAGE to register and for more details. 

I will be logging into the HRC Zoom event for sure, so I look forward to seeing everyone on Friday!

Thanks to Scott Wells.