Saturday, May 4, 2024

Searching for Houdini in Columbus, Texas

This historical marker can be found at the Old Stafford Opera House in Columbus, Texas. It shows Houdini performed at the historic theater. But did he?

Unfortunately, I have no record of Houdini in Columbus, and I have a pretty complete listing of all the stops on his Texas tours of 1916, 1923, and 1924. However, there is still a possibility that he appeared at the Stafford due to a certain peculiarity of these tours.

The Texas-based Interstate Amusement Company, the circuit on which Houdini toured, would occasionally send a vaudeville troupe appearing in a major city to a smaller city for a single night's performance. These were mid-week appearances, the theaters would literally swap acts. Houdini appeared in Galveston and Corsicana this way. So could Columbus have been another one of these one-nighters?

I haven't found anything (yet), so I'm throwing this out to other research bloodhounds. If it helps, below are the dates of Houdini's Texas tours.

1916: Jan. 10 to Feb. 13
1923: Oct. 28 to Nov. 25
1924: Oct. 12 to Oct. 19 (spirit lectures)

It sure would be nice to put Harry in Columbus. The theater is a beauty!

Thanks to the Discover Columbus Texas Facebook page for the pics and Richard Hatch for sending me down this rabbit hole.


  1. A possible place to look is Oct. 25-27, 1923. Houdini closed in Sioux City on Wed. Oct 24 and opened in Dallas on Sun Oct. 28. So that's 3 days unaccounted for.

  2. Where did that historical committee get their information? They put Houdini's name on the plaque because they must have read somewhere about his appearance at that theater.

    1. Richard emailed them. We'll see. Sometimes it's just lore. Remember THIS?

    2. Let's hope it's not another imposter like the one in New Britain. These historical plaques are about as reliable as certificates of authenticity we see at auctions.

  3. Dunno about the actual event, but I do know it'd be an easy trip from Houston on the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway, which I think at the time was a spur on the Houston and Texas Central Railway.

    1. All the more reason to think it might have been a one-nighter. That's the rail line Houdini traveled.