Thursday, December 7, 2023

Reflecting on a WILD 2023

I'm taking my year-end break a little earlier than normal because oh what a year this has been! So much has happened that I feel like I need to sit back and reflect on where I've been and where I'm going. As to where I've been...

I'm still reeling from the incredible time I spent inside David Copperfield's International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts in March and the role I played in making fresh transfers of the Houdini wax cylinders. To have been a part of this Houdini history is beyond an honor. I still can't believe it all really happened.

Speaking of honors, receiving the Milbourne Christopher Ambassador of Magic Award was just that for someone weaned on Christopher's work. My overnight stay at 278 during my self-proclaimed Ambassador's tour was a literal dream come true. My time in Cleveland was fantastic. Celebrating Houdini's 100th Masonic anniversary was a wild time. Being the Houdini historian at two events at the Houdini Estate in Laurel Canyon was a blast. And spending the year annotating Houdini's first known travel diary has been a daily thrill that I'm excited you will all get to experience next year.

There was also plenty of action right here on the blog. A few long-time mysteries were solved, including the baby photo, the checkered flag photo, the origin of Metamorphosis, the overboard box footage, and Hardeen's Metamorphosis. Crossing 10 million views was also pretty satisfying.

I'm especially pleased with my first full year on Patreon. My patrons were right there with me on my Houdini adventures this year. In fact, the support of my patrons made these adventures possible. I've also been able to share some terrific exclusive material and first looks. I'm looking forward to providing patrons with more terrific content in 2024, including this. (I will continue posting to Patreon during my break.)

Between the diary and all the correspondence I've read in the past 18 months, I really feel like I've come to know Houdini in a deeper and more personal way. And you know what? I like him! People may not believe this, but I've encountered NO sign of this massive ego one hears so much about. None. Instead, I've found him to be generous, funny, self-deprecating, philosophical, wistful, a lover of animals, a tireless worker, and a loving husband. He's a person deserving of the attention we give him. Meet your heroes.

Next year, expect more of the same. It's a big year for Houdini centennials. I will be working on a new book project while promoting the diary book. I'm looking forward to the Magic Collector Expo in Long Beach, more trips to Copperfield's, and more discoveries ahead. Because I'm still Wild about Harry! And so are you.

2023 in Review:
January (23 posts)
February (20 posts)
March (21 posts)
April (23 posts)
May (18 posts)
June (24 posts)
July (22 posts)
August (23 posts)
September (16 posts)
October (23 posts)
November (23 posts)
December (6 posts)

Most Viewed New Post of 2023

Up to my socks in the Copperfield collection.

Happy Holidays
See you in 2024

Photo at the top of this post from the McCord-Stewart Museum.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Rosehill Racecourse in Sydney to be redeveloped

ABC News reports that Rosehill Racecourse in Sydney, Australia, will be relocated, and the area on which it has stood since 1883 will be turned into a "mini-city" of 25,000 new properties, green space, and a Metro station.

What does this have to do with Houdini? Well, Rosehill was one of only three fields where Houdini flew his Voisin biplane. While he learned to fly at Hufaren parade grounds in Germany and clinched the honor of Australia's first flight at Diggers Rest near Melbourne, it was at Rosehill that he made his final and most harrowing flight on May 1, 1910.

All I ask is one of the streets in this new development be named in honor of Houdini!

Thanks to Tom Waller for the alert.

Bring home a piece of 278 for the holidays

Before I wrap up the blog for the year, I wanted to give a shoutout to Roger Dreyer's Houdini Revealed and this terrific new novelty he is offering. When I visited Roger's amazing museum in September, he gifted me this authentic piece of 278 brick that sits on a miniature 278 base (a clear plastic dome fits over it all; the dome is off in the image below). I love it!

While I don't yet see this on his website store, Roger said these are available for purchase. So if you're interested in gifting a piece of 278 to a loved one or yourself, give Roger a shout HERE.

Roger also offers full 278 bricks and assorted wood pieces that are listed on his website. So you have many ways of owning a piece of Houdini's home this holiday season.

Thank you, Roger!

Monday, December 4, 2023

Houdini's Denver dives

On October 13, 1907, Houdini leapt manacled from the roof of the band pavilion at Denver's City Lake Park. The stunt was similar to his leap just a few weeks earlier in Los Angeles. But it wasn't advertised. Houdini did this jump primarily for newspapermen and photographers on the day he arrived in the city. This resulted in terrific coverage, as seen below.

The Denver Post, Oct. 14, 1907

The photos taken that day by Daily News staff photographer Ralph Baird were enlarged and displayed in the lobby of the Denver Orpheum. (Including the image at the top of this post, which I'm excited to confirm is Denver.) But The News felt the public would like to see Houdini perform the feat for themselves, so they arranged for him to repeat the stunt on Sunday, Oct. 20. It was unusual for Houdini to repeat an outdoor stunt during the same engagement, but he agreed to do so.

The Daily News, Oct. 17, 1907

It's interesting to see that Houdini wanted a ladder placed atop the pavilion this time so he could make a higher jump. During the first jump, he had hit the bottom of the lake. However, at the last moment, Denver Mayor Robert W. Speer objected to the stunt.

The Daily News, Oct. 20, 1907

Houdini stayed out of the controversy, but The News took the mayor to task for what it saw as his hypocrisy. In an Oct. 31st editorial called "Awake at Last," the paper sarcastically congratulated the mayor for suddenly waking up to the city's blue laws and how he would now, no doubt, close down the saloons and gambling halls that line his pockets. They conclude:

And there are any number of other things for the mayor to do, now that he has taken this high moral resolve. And it thrills us with joy to know that we were the unwilling instruments bringing this great good to the city. [...] Why, oh, why didn't we think of the Houdini jump sooner, and get the mayor's conscience waked up two years ago, in time to keep him from helping steal the franchises? But it's awake now; that's one comfort. There should be notable doings in the city pretty quick.

Mayor Spreer

Mayor Spreer survived the scandal and became the only Denver mayor elected to three terms. However, he didn't survive the 1918 flu pandemic and passed away during his third term.

The site of Houdini's Denver leap still exists today. While the pavilion has been rebuilt, it is, presumably, still in the same spot. A terrific Denver Houdini location. Maybe the current mayor, Mike Johnson, can put a historical plaque in the pavilion commemorating Houdini's October 13, 1907 leap and make up for his predecessor denying the citizens of Denver that second jump? Just an idea!

Want more? You can view or download an assortment of newspaper clippings from Houdini's 1907 Denver appearance as a "Scholar" member of my Patreon below. Thanks to my patrons for supporting content like this.

Photo at the top of this post from the McCord-Stewart Museum.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Limited edition 'Magical Rope Ties and Escapes'

Philip David Treece at has released a high-quality reprint of Houdini's Magical Rope Ties and Escapes. This is a limited edition hardback (100 numbered copies) printed and bound in the UK by a specialist short-run printer. It is a full facsimile produced directly from an original copy, with all the plates reproduced as plates, just like the original. As you can see below, it's a beauty!

Magical Rope Ties and Escapes was originally published in the UK by Will Goldston in 1921. It was never released in the U.S. The only other reprint I'm aware of was a paperback by Houdini's Magic Shop in 2011. Of all Houdini's books, this is the one that contains the most photos of him.

You can purchase this new limited edition of Magical Rope Ties and Escapes at

Thank you, Philip!

UPDATE: Excited to have my copy in hand. It's every bit as good as advertised. The quality of the illustrations and photos match the original exactly. (This is certainly not the case with the 2011 reprint.) Originals are scarce and expensive, so if you don't have this book or want a reading copy, this is the one to get!

Friday, December 1, 2023

Want to hear unreleased Houdini voice?

My Wild About Harry on Patreon is going strong with 80 paid members enjoying loads of exclusive Houdini content. I'm very grateful to all my patrons who help support my work. 

Today, I'm sharing a special incentive to bring more patrons into the fold. If we can reach 100 paid members by year's end, I will post one minute of audio from Houdini's Water Torture Cell patter that has never been made available to the public.

This is not from the recent David Copperfield transfers. This is from an entirely different source that you will see with your own eyes. It's wild stuff.

We're just 20 members away from this goal. So if you join today, you'll not only be supporting my work and unlocking a wealth of exclusive content, but you'll be moving yourself and everyone closer to hearing unheard Harry!

Check out membership details by clicking the image below. Hope to see you inside.