It was 95 years ago today that Houdini opened his "3 Shows in One" at the Providence Opera House in Providence, Rhode Island. He had originally been booked to appear the week of September 20. But he was extended for a third week in Boston, so that pushed the Providence engagement to the week of October 4, 1926. This would be his tenth and final appearance in the city.
The Providence Journal gave the opening night show an enthusiastic review in the Tuesday, October 5th issue. Below is that review in full.
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The show ran nightly with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday. According to Billboard, it played to capacity business all week long.
There were also some notable events that happened off stage this week. Houdini met with H.P. Lovecraft and C.M. Eddy to discuss their collaboration on The Cancer of Superstition. He lectured to students at Brown University. Bess was also stricken with food poisoning near the end of the run, causing Houdini great worry and to stay up nights. This is typically seen as the first on a series of unfortunate incidents that would culminate with Houdini's death on Halloween 1926.
I have a particular fascination with this Providence engagement as earlier this year I acquired an original window card advertising this very week. I first shared the card during a special S.A.M. Houdini birthday celebration on Zoom back in March. Magician Dave Thomen recently shared a clip on Facebook, and I was excited to see this as it provides a look at the card pre-restoration. Not bad for 95 years old!
The Providence Opera House was located at 115 Dorrance Street at Pine Street. It was built in 1871 and could seat over 1400 people. For many years it provided family friendly entertainment and was one of the most prestigious venues in Rhode Island. It closed on March 14, 1931 with a final performance by Providence-born George M. Cohen. It was demolished soon after.
Below is Dorrance Street today. The long featureless black building on the left is where the Providence Opera House and the Narragansett Hotel once stood.
Thanks to Bill Mullins for his research tips. For more on the history of the Providence Opera House check out Rhode Tour.