Attention centenarians or anyone who knows a centenarian!
During the World Wide Houdini Birthday Celebration last month, the topic came up as to whether there's still anyone alive who met or saw Houdini. June Horowitz, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 104, was the last person I was aware of. And with Houdini being dead for nearly 98 years, the math is moving against us.
However, I think there's still a good chance there are some centenarians out there who saw Houdini. This is because in the last years of his life, when he was touring with his 3 Shows in One in 1925-26, Houdini made a practice of performing special matinees for audiences made up entirely of children. He did this in every city he played. That's a lot of kids! So I think it's entirely possible one or more of these audience members could still be with us.
So if you have a parent or grandparent who was around in 1925-26, maybe ask them if they saw Houdini? If they did, please contact me. It would be great to discover and celebrate anyone who holds a memory of the real Houdini while we still have the chance to do so.
Photo: Library of Congress.
This is an interesting photograph! Is HH in the picture but cropped out? This looks like a theater lobby photo of a matinee 3 in 1 show.ReplyDelete
This is indeed the lobby of a theater, likely Chicago, during one of these special kids matinees from the 3 in 1 tour. I don't know if Houdini is cropped out.Delete
Thanks! It looks like the kids are staring at something off camera that has their attention. I'm wondering if it's Harry. Or maybe they're filing into the theater, which would explain their attention at something up ahead.Delete
John, the first thought that came to mind when I read this was "What actors are over 100 and still living?" Then the first name that came to mind was Norman Lloyd (who, alas, passed away last May at age 106!). I thought someone in the business MIGHT be more likely to have seen and remember seeing Houdini. Lloyd was born in 1914 -- he easily could have seen him! I did an internet search to try and find a mention, and of course turned up nothing, but that doesn't mean there isn't a mention somewhere in a book or article about Lloyd (and he was still super-sharp well past 100). There could also be stagehands, theatre ushers, etc., who are in the 100-year range. I wish I had the time to seek them out! (I do have a few friends in their 90s; alas, they're too young!)ReplyDelete
Interesting thought. But anyone who was working age in Houdini's day would be over 110, so it gets tricky. I do think our best chance is one of these kids. Someone who was around 6.Delete
I've just found a fresh account of one of these shows in Indianapolis and it says special buses were arranged to bring kids from poorer areas (which weren't served by streetcars) to the theater. So there was a wide variety of youngsters.
Forgot to mention -- Norman Lloyd was the actor who appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's "Saboteur," and whose character famously fell from the Statue of Liberty. He also appeared on "St. Elsewhere," and in a zillion other things.ReplyDelete
If it helps, here are the cities HH played his 3 Show in One in 1925-26: Cumberland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Youngstown, Dayton, Columbus, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Syracuse, Cleveland, Baltimore, Newark, Providence, Hartford, New York, Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Reading, York, Chicago, Akron, Harrisburg, Paterson, Boston, Worcester, Albany, Schenectady, Montreal, Detroit.
I actually didn't mean that they would have been working in the theatre at the time Houdini was performing, but that they might have been more likely to be in a theatre seeing him and to remember the experience (as people who gravitate to the theatre tend to do at an early age). I also thought of the residents of the Actors Fund home in Englewood (I think there's a counterpart to that in Los Angeles, though I'm not sure.)ReplyDelete
Ah, yes, I understand now. Good thinking.Delete
The word "Princess" is on the front glass door. Could this be the Princess Theater in Montreal?ReplyDelete
Oh, good catch!Delete
I'm betting it's the Princess Theater in Chicago. Houdini played there for a whopping 8 weeks in 1926. And note the mentions of the Apollo and Garrick theaters in the background. Both Chicago theaters.
I wondered about those other two theaters on the wall. You have to enlarge the photo to see the lettering on the front door. The photos are always larger on your Facebook posts. Much more clarity and detail.Delete
If you click the photos here they'll enlarge to their full size.Delete