Monday, June 13, 2022

'A Rose from Houdini' by James Hilton

On March 2, 1952, a short piece of writing by famed English novelist James Hilton, author of Lost Horizon and Goodbye Mr. Chips, was syndicated in several newspapers. I've come across this in my research travels, but I've never seen it in color until magician Richard Hatch sent me an original in a batch of Houdini clippings. So I thought this was nice one to share. I love the illustration and the story is sweet.

Click to enlarge.

Here's a thought. This story appeared right on the heels of Paramount's announcement that they planned to make a biopic of Houdini's life. So maybe Paramount's publicity department had something to do with this? Was this a way to plant Houdini's name back into the public consciousness and begin to cultivate of his memory (like a rose)? James Hilton was living in California and did work with the studios. Just saying.

The Times, Feb. 15, 1952.

Speaking of the blooming rosebush, check out this presentation by our friend Lance Rich at the recent Magic Collectors Expo in Austin, which includes a nice Bess surprise.

Thanks Richard.



  1. I remember the rose story was in the Harold Kellock bio. Be interesting if George Pal actually pursued magicians to play the role...when having a very attractive/popular stars, like Curtis and Leigh made much better box office. I remember the producers of "The Bruce Lee Story", said it was easier/better to find an actor who could play a martial arts expert, than finding a martial arts expert who could act.

    1. Holy smokes, you're right. This is in Kellock. I hadn't remembered that. But the Kellock book was the source bio for the Paramount movie, so...

      There was lots of press chatter about magicians playing Houdini. Even Milbourne Christopher! Click on my related link "Houdini hopefuls of 1952". But, yes, stars are what gets a movie made, and the pairing of the newly married hot young couple of Curtis and Leigh is what finally got this movie off the ground.

  2. The "magician search" may have been just publicity to create interest in the soon to be movie. They may have even chosen/narrowed their casting choices ahead of time.