Saturday, May 7, 2022

Locating Houdini's lion

Below is a photo that I think most people are familiar with as it appears in the book The Secrets of Houdini (although I don't recall it appearing anywhere else). It shows Houdini doing a headstand atop a stone lion. Because why not!?

Of course, when I see something like this I want to know the where, when, and why of it. The Secrets of Houdini identifies this as Houdini "practicing a handstand at the Lasky Studio, Hollywood." But I have a different idea about where this was taken.

Last year I did a post in which I was able to identify (with the help of John Bengtson) the famous photos of Houdini hanging from a large wall as being the retaining wall that fronted the old County Court House in downtown Los Angeles. Here he's dressed the same, he's doing yet another piece of public acrobatics, and that appears to be his Grim Game co-star, Ann Forrest, who is also present in the wall photos. So I had another look at the photo of the old Court House and, sure enough, it had two stone lions out front!

Below is a better photo of one of the court house lions. Sure looks the same to me!

I would say it's almost certain one of these court house statues is "Houdini's lion". I guess we won't know which one unless another photo surfaces. But as the statues and the court house are now long gone, this is a photo op that can only roar in the past.


  1. Wow! Wow! Been looking for the lion for years!
    And that is definitely, Ann Forrest. The hat and white dress match other photos; see page 360 of Kalush for an example.

    1. I used to think that that grass shot was taken at the Grim Game house (the Bergstrom estate) which had a tall slopping lawn. But the court house did as well and, as you point out, they are dressed the same. So, yeah, I think all these photos where taken at the court house on this same day.

  2. Hanging--not handing from a large wall...A great find! Just goes to show that the old books missed their targets now and then. Without the Internet, the authors were doomed to make photo ID and other mistakes. Ann Forrest was really cute. Harry is showing off like a teenage boy around a pretty girl.