Thursday, July 27, 2023

Mystery of the Houdinis baby (solved)


This photo tends to draw a lot of comments and curiosity when it appears online. The Houdinis never had any children, so who is this mystery baby? Could it be Houdini's niece, Marie Blood? His nephew, Harry Houdini Hardeen? Or could it be Houdini's daughter!?

I actually discovered the answer a while back via a notation on an original photo in the collection of Dr. Bruce Averbook. However, I recently found a newspaper clipping that confirmed everything and explains it as well as I can, so here you go:

Atlantic City Daily Press, August 13, 1908.


The Houdinis visited the Infant Incubators on June 22, 1908, which also happened to be their 14th wedding anniversary. This was before the exhibit had officially opened to the public on June 27. Houdini was playing a two week engagement at Young's Ocean Pier Theatre in Atlantic City at this time. You can see Houdini and the "Infant Incubators" sharing the bill below.

Atlantic City Daily Press, June 27, 1908.

Want more? You can unlock 20 newspaper clippings related to Houdini's eventful 1908 Atlantic City engagement as a "Scholar" member of my Patreon below.


8 comments:

  1. Harry blessed the poor little thing.

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  2. I knew about the baby and the incubator story. I must have read about it many years ago. However, I did not recall it taking place on their wedding annuversaryšŸ¤”Since I know the essence of "Houdini," he must have entertained at the bedside some patients there and some if it's staff. Probably, a Nurse ushered him and his wife to see this little child which he is lovingly holding. Although, both of us are childless, we do "love" kids and it is always a joy to perform for them and see their faces light upšŸ˜€BenjilinišŸŽ©šŸ°

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    1. A while back there was a lively discussion about this photo online and I believe it was Kevin Connolly who suggested this could be Harry and Bess at the infant incubators in Coney Island. At the time I thought that was a stretch, but I'll be darned if he wasn't right (just a different location). This is likely where you heard the story.

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  3. ProbablyšŸ‘BenjilinišŸŽ©šŸ°Note: Houdini often frequented hospitals visiting children to perform for them as do I.

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  4. If you look closely at Bess's face in this photo, you can see she's feeling the baby's vibes.

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    1. Indeed. I think Infant Incubators was a landmark of significance for them.

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