"One of the interesting things is J. Stuart Whitehead wrote a letter of apology to the family, and they destroyed that. But he had apologized for having struck Houdini."
- Houdini's Movies
- Les merveilleux exploits de Houdini à Paris (1909)
- The Master Mystery (1918)
- The Grim Game (1919)
- Terror Island (1920)
- The Man From Beyond (1922)
- Haldane of the Secret Service (1923)
- Velvet Fingers (1925-26)
- Medium Well Done (1937)
- Religious Racketeers (1938)
- Houdini Picture Corp.
- Film Developing Corp.
- Filming locations
- Unmade Movies
- Deconstructing Houdini '53
- Beatrice Houdini
- Theo Hardeen
- Cecelia Weiss
- Mayer Samuel Weiss
- Jim Collins
- Franz Kukol
- Martin Beck
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- J. Gordon Whitehead
- Edward Saint
- Jacob Hyman
- Leopold Weiss
- Carrie Gladys Weiss
- Bernard M.L. Ernst
- Charmian London
- Jess Willard
- H.P. Lovecraft
- Sherlock Holmes
- Other magicians
- Full Bibliography
- By Houdini
- For Kids
- Wild About Harry Bookshelf
- Houdini His Life Story (1928)
- Houdini The Man Who Walked Through Walls (1959)
- Houdini The Untold Story (1969)
- The Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini (1993)
- Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss (1997)
- The Secret Life of Houdini (2006)
- The Metamorphosis: The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini (2012)
- The Witch of Lime Street (2015)
- The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini (2019)
- The Official Houdini Seance
- Terror Island screening on Catalina (2018)
- Visiting the Copperfield Collection (2018)
- 278 Open House (2017)
- Los Angeles Conference on Magic History (2015)
- Official Houdini Séance, San Francisco (2015)
- Houdini Historical Roast (2015)
- Midwest Magic History Weekend, Marshall (2015)
- The Grim Game premiere in Hollywood (2015)
- Houdini at Hollywood Heritage (2014)
- Official Houdini Seance, Fort Worth (2012)
- Magic Collectors Weekend, Chicago (2011)
- Houdini Art and Magic exhibition (2010-2012)
- Tony Curtis at The Magic Castle (2009)
Thursday, March 31, 2022
The letter of apology
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Houdini used to demo new AI tool LiveStory
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
Judy Carter makes "A Death-Defying Escape!"
Monday, March 28, 2022
The World Wide Houdini Birthday Celebration was a mega success
|Jeff and Debbie Blood sharing some of their Houdini family treasures.|
Saturday, March 26, 2022
The World Wide Houdini Birthday Celebration - Full Schedule
Friday, March 25, 2022
Paul Michael Glaser on the Mike Douglas show
Thursday, March 24, 2022
Houdini turns 148
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
A new Houdini-Chaplin encounter
|The Weekly Dispatch, Jan. 16, 1916.|
Monday, March 21, 2022
'Of Monsters and Magic' in Scary Monsters #121
Sunday, March 20, 2022
Roger Dreyer talks Houdini, March 22
Saturday, March 19, 2022
Bess clowning around?
"We had only two clowns with the circus, two serious- minded middle-aged men. The tragedy of their lives was that they could not sing, for they had the songbook privilege for the show, and, with no one to sing the songs, they could not sell the books. They were overjoyed when they found that I could make a stab at singing. They dressed me as a clown, put me on a chair, and I sang verses of all the more catching songs, for which I received the large sum of two dollars for fourteen shows. My, but I was proud of that money! I felt that I earned it all myself."
Friday, March 18, 2022
A lost purse in Huddersfield
Houdini's Australian flight inspires 'Waypoints'
Thursday, March 17, 2022
Muriel Rukeyser Houdini webinar this Sunday
Jan Freeman will discuss her discovery of Houdini: A Musical, the decision to publish the verse drama through Paris Press, the journey of transforming the manuscript housed at the Library of Congress into a published book, and bringing the text to the attention of readers.Stefania Heim will present archival traces of Rukeyser’s process, drawing from her proposals, plans, correspondence, research, and drafts from the 1940s through the mid 1970s. She will also explore Rukeyser’s incorporation of language from the 1926 Congressional Judiciary Subcommittee hearings on fortune telling.Matthew Solomon, author of Disappearing Tricks: Silent Film, Houdini, and the New Magic of the Twentieth Century, will discuss Houdini himself.
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
New candidate for Houdini's last suspended straitjacket escape
|Worcester Evening Gazette, Dec. 9, 1925.|
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
Young Harry Houdini turns 35
Monday, March 14, 2022
'Houdini's Fabulous Magic' returns in 2023
Sunday, March 13, 2022
Magic Castle offers special "Houdini Week" séances
Harry Houdini's birthday is March 24th (happy 148th, Harry!), and to celebrate, we are having a full week of Non-Dining Houdini Séances!
The Houdini Séance Experience has been revised, revamped, and refurbished for 2022. This is your chance to take part in this newly updated tradition without having to book the full fine dining event. Parties of 1 to 10 can participate in this hourlong adventure with our mystical medium - Zabrecky.One late-night séance per evening Monday, March 21st through Sunday, March 29th. Starting at 10:00 pm Mon-Thurs & Sunday. 11:00 pm on Friday & Saturday.
Saturday, March 12, 2022
Houdini's Brighton Beach Memoirs
This is the season when Gotham comes to Brighton. Pleasure parks blaze at night like beacon fires along the beaches, while the lights grow dimmer and dimmer on Broadway. This is the season of shore diners, hadball [sic?], hot dogs, one-piece bathing suits, open taxie, ice cream cones, beach chairs and vaudeville – summer vaudeville.The sea-green walls of the New Brighton Theatre are freshly painted. Plaster mermaids disport in shell pediments over the boxes. Sloops unfurl their delft blue sails on placques above the doors. Actresses in rompers play medicine ball on the campus; tenors and golf enthusiasts are practicing "form"; a soubrette is doing the Charleston.
"Lillian Russell. She packed the house, but when we brought her back the next season at $3000 a week – although she was just as good – the fickle public weren't interested. Annette Kellerman was a good drawing card because of her figure not her stunts. [...] Stunts don't interest Brighton crowds. Houdini was annoyed because we didn't get excited when he offered to jump off a pier and drown himself. He did jump off but nobody paid any particular attention to him."
"Because of the exacting nature of his offering, Mr. Houdini has always been averse to making public appearances in the heated term. However, as he recently purchased a home in Flatbush in a location adjacent to the beach, he has agreed to interrupt his vacation for a single week."
|Brooklyn Times Union, July 22, 1916|
|The Chat, July 29, 1916.|
Friday, March 11, 2022
Save the date! Houdini online mega event, March 27
Sunday March 27, S.A.M. President Tom Gentile is throwing a world wide birthday party for the one and only Harry Houdini. The event is kicking off at noon Eastern and then spending the next 12 hours going around the world "Doing More Together."We will be sharing Houdini stories, your magic and other fun events. The night will wrap up with S.A.M. 1st VP John Sturk providing original music over the Houdini silent film, The Grim Game. Link and more details will be following soon.
Thursday, March 10, 2022
The Handcuff King, King of Pop, and Heavyweight Champ walk into a theater...
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Jim Steinmeyer on Houdini’s North Pole mystery
IS THIS HOUDINI’S LAST ILLUSION?by Jim Steinmeyer
In the June 1926 Sphinx, Max Holden described the Banquet of the Society of American Magicians which had been held on June 4, 1926, at the McAlpin Hotel in New York City.
In it, he described a trick that, it seems, was Houdini’s last creation, an unusual illusion. Houdini called it Walking Through the North Pole.
Here is Holden’s description:"Harry Houdini next presented an illusion with two bare wood tables in the routh [“rough"?], and a piece of pole. He said it represents the North Pole. A dainty little miss was placed on one table, a screen placed round table; likewise a screen was placed around other table, and on screens being removed there was the dainty miss on the other table. After seeing Rubini, nothing is impossible, and how that dainty miss traveled invisibly through the air over that North Pole is beyond me. Miss Horwitz is the dainty miss, a daughter of my friend Sam. Maybe he will satisfy my curiosity."
(Rubini was a mindreader who had just appeared on the show and impressed the magicians with his feats. Sam Horowitz produced the S.A.M. shows, so presumably Houdini recruited his daughter to help.)
Not everyone was as complimentary as Holden. Two other reviewers added sparse details. The MUM publication for July 1926 noted the illusion very briefly:"[Next on the show was] Houdini, presenting his new illusion, ‘Walking through the North Pole.’”
An article in Billboard described the performance this way:"Houdini’s latest illusion [is] called * “Walking Thru the North Pole”. In full view of the audience he somehow managed to transfer a little girl from a table at one end of the log, which represented the North Pole, to a table at the other end.”
Notice that Billboard’s reviewer categorized the pole as more of a log.
But the most definitive judgment may have been years later. Writing about his friend and associate Harry Houdini, the great magician, Servais LeRoy, used the North Pole trick as an example of Houdini’s poor judgment with illusions.
As a fan of both LeRoy and Houdini, allow me to make a few observations about this criticism. LeRoy was legendary as an artistic illusionist, someone whose performances were perfect and mystifying, and he should be remembered as one of the greatest inventors of illusions in our history. He also writes honestly and insightfully, giving us a look at his taste and understanding of magic. But, like a lot of his contemporaries, he seemed to be frustrated by Houdini.
Still, LeRoy was wrong about dismissing Houdini’s innovations, for Houdini distinguished himself by inventing an entirely new class of illusions, called escapes. And, as LeRoy wrote, “His escapes were incomparable.” Houdini was not the finished, classical magician that LeRoy idealized, and he did not share LeRoy’s taste for stage illusions or innovative techniques. This really is an example of two incredible innovators—so very different—who couldn’t understand each other.
So where does that leave the Walking through the North Pole illusion?
Holden seems to describe a pole that connects the tables horizontally, as the lady supposedly travels “over it, invisibly.” But the action of the trick isn’t clear. The MUM and Billboard describe that the idea was a girl walking “through” the pole, and Billboard suggests that it was more like a long log. Presumably, the pole was used to connect the tables, either from tabletop to tabletop, or along the floor.
I have my own theories about it, and would hope, at some point, to try those out in a demonstration or a recreation. But the premise of the lady traveling invisibly over the pole, or through the pole, isn’t really a clear, interesting, or magical image. The North Pole would have been a topical effect in 1926, with recent headlines about Byrd and other explorers. But even that doesn’t quite work. The legendary North Pole suggests, of course, some sort of fanciful pole standing upright in the frozen tundra, not Houdini’s horizontal pole between two tables.
It’s worth noting that in England, Devant had briefly presented another North Pole illusion years earlier, tying it to topical explorations. He used an upright pole and the illusion was the transformation of a man to a polar bear!
And so, Houdini’s last illusion, given a topical name but a muddled plot, was exactly the sort of thing that inspired LeRoy’s criticism. Still, we have to admit, Houdini has us with a real mystery. With the apparatus long gone, with most in the audience shrugging off the mystery, it’s unlikely we’ll ever fully understand Houdini’s North Pole mystery.
Thank you Jim!
UPDATE: Jim continues his investigation of this effect at his own blog. Check out: WHAT WE HIDE: HOUDINI’S FINAL ILLUSION.
Monday, March 7, 2022
Chasing Ghosts by Marc Hartzman
Ghosts are everywhere—whether you believe in them or not. Every town has its local legends, and countless books, movies, and TV shows are haunted by their presence. But our obsession with ghosts runs deeper than we know—and is embedded in the very fabric of American history.
- The Fox Sisters and the rise of Spiritualism
- The supernatural obsessions of famous figures like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Famous haunted sites like the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia and the LaLaurie House in New Orleans
- Famous ghosts like the Bell Witch of Tennessee and the Greenbrier Ghost of West Virginia
- Paranormal investigators like Ed and Lorraine WarrenDeeply researched and highly entertaining, with archival images and black and white illustrations, Chasing Ghosts will satisfy believers and skeptics alike.
Sunday, March 6, 2022
FLASHBACK: When Houdini met (The) Batman
Saturday, March 5, 2022
Rally at Houdini Plaza to support Ukraine
Friday, March 4, 2022
Hardeen: The Man Who Walked Through Walls
|Morning Albertan, Sept. 22, 1915|
|The Spokesman Review, Oct. 1, 1915.|
|Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, Feb. 23, 1915.|
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Paramount puts Houdini movie into development
EXCLUSIVE: Transformers duo Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian are producing a movie about iconic escape artist and illusionist Harry Houdini for Paramount.Plot details are being kept under wraps on the untitled development project but we understand it will be set of its time in the early 20th Century and have a Sherlock Holmes tone, dealing as it does with a human superhero type.Script is being written by Neil Widener and Gavin James who are also working with the studio on Jerry Bruckheimer’s Beyblade project.
|Click to enlarge.|
Houdini hangs in Omaha
|The Omaha Daily News, Sept. 5, 1923.|
|The Omaha Morning Bee, Sept. 3, 1923.|
|Omaha World Herald, Sept. 5, 1923|
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
Four staged readings of Muriel Rukeyser's 'Houdini' in March
March 20, 2pm. Sponberg Theatre, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI.This event will be live streamed, preceded by a webinar, at 11am, featuring Rukeyser experts Jan Freeman and Stefania Heim and Houdini expert Matthew Solomon. Registration.March 24, 7pm. Riverside Arts Center, Ypsilanti, MI.In collaboration with YpsiWrites, a writing-focused non-profit serving the Ypsilanti area, this event will be accompanied by a Poetry Wall and other activities geared toward a younger Southeast Michigan audience.March 26, 8pm, and March 27, 3pm. Matrix Theatre, Detroit, MI.These events will be followed by conversations between the director, actors, and audience. Directed by EMU Theatre Professor Lee Stille, Rukeyser’s Houdini will be performed by the talented actors of EMU’s Theatre Program.