Thursday, March 14, 2024

Discovering Houdini's "O.D. stunt" at last!

Here's one I've been chasing for a long time. In Houdini's 1916 diary, he records an "O.D. stunt" (outdoor stunt) during his engagement in Toledo that year. Unfortunately, he provided no other details. I suspected it was a suspended straitjacket escape, but I've never been able to confirm it or nail down an exact date. But now, thanks to a recent upload of Toledo Blade newspapers, the "O.D. stunt" has been revealed!

Toledo Blade, December 8, 1916.

While this was indeed a suspended straitjacket escape (on December 7, 1916), it was an untypical one. Instead of doing the escape from a downtown building that housed a newspaper, Houdini did this from the "roof of the county jail." It isn't entirely clear where this would have been, but the Lucas County Jail in Toledo is a likely candidate.

Another interesting detail gleaned from another clipping is that the police provided a straitjacket, but Houdini "refused" it and used one of his own.

Finally, if the photo in the clipping looks familiar, it should! The NYPL has the full photo in its digital collection, and it has appeared elsewhere. Who knew we were looking at the elusive Toledo "O.D. stunt" this whole time?

Want more? I've shared all the clippings related to this stunt and Houdini's 1916 Toledo engagement with "Scholar" members of my Patreon below.


1 comment: