Houdini's last outdoor stunt occurred in Worcester, Massachusetts, on September 30, 1926. At least we think it did! Not a single book mentions this air-tight coffin test, and while I've found advertisements and newspaper articles promoting it, I've never found an actual account of the stunt itself. Also, no photos have ever surfaced. At times, I've wondered if, for one reason or another, it never took place.
Well, I can now put those doubts to rest because I've finally found the proof I've been looking for. It happened! Below is an account from the September 30, 1926 Worcester Evening Gazette which offers some terrific details.
|Evening Gazette, Sept. 30, 1926|
I love the detail about Houdini blinking his responses to Collins and also that he wrote on the fogged glass. I believe this would have become Houdini's new go-to outdoor stunt, forever replacing the suspended straitjacket, and it's striking how similar this is to what David Blaine would be doing 70 years later. It's also chilling to hear Houdini declaring this would be the casket in which he would be buried. Only a month later that would prove to be the case, so the people who saw Houdini on this day saw something darkly prophetic.
Now that we know this happened, I am more hopeful than ever that a photograph will one day surface. Considering this took place outside and lasted for an hour, it seems certain that photos were taken. Yes, there's the mystery casket photo that could be the Summerfield's test, but we need another photo to confirm this.
The building that housed Summerfield's still stands at 184 Main St. in Worcester and doesn't look all that different than it did in 1926.
Speaking of Worcester, our friend Jessica Jane and The Foolers will appear tomorrow at The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts in Worcester. So if you see the show, why not swing by the location of Houdini's last outdoor stunt?
Want more? You can read all the newspaper clippings and images I've gathered about the Summerfield's test as a "Scholar" member of my Patreon.