MOTION PICTURES FDCs WITH ADD-ON CACHET

Below are two great vintage 1944 motion picture First Day Covers with add-on cachets for Houdini’s movies, The Grim Game and Terror Island.  These items recently sold individually on eBay for $15.50 and $15.55 respectively.  Congratulations to the winners!

Grim Game FDC:

GG FDC

  • MAGICIAN HARRY KELLAR VISITING HARRY HOUDINI AND DIRECTOR IRVIN WILLAT ON THE SET OF “THE GRIM GAME.” [Note: Arthur Moses owns the original photograph which I was lucky enough to see.]
  • FREEMASONS: Harry Houdini was a member of St. Cecile Lodge, New York.
  • He became a Shriner in New York’s Mecca Shrine in October 1926.
  • Harry Kellar was made a Mason May 1875 in Lodge Fraternidad y Homa at Peltas, Brazil.
  • Received the Royal Arch Degree on the Isle of Mauritius.
  • 1850 received the Scottish Rite Degrees in Triple Esperance Lodge, Port Luis, Mauritius, and the 33 AASR in New York City.
  • FIRST DAY OF ISSUE, FIRST DAY COVER, FDOI
  • PENCIL ADDRESS ERASED, SEALED
  • POSTMARKED: NEW YORK, NY, OCTOBER 31, 1944

Terror Island FDC:

TI FDC

  • Harry starred in TERROR ISLAND (1920) and several other films produced by others and himself.
  • He has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and a place in motion picture history.
  • FIRST DAY OF ISSUE, FIRST DAY COVER, FDOI
  • PENCIL ADDRESS ERASED, SEALED
  • POSTMARKED: NEW YORK, NY, OCTOBER 31, 1944

Houdini’s Father can be found in Scranton

Houdini Museum Scranton 924 cropped

Above is an amazing framed photo of Harry Houdini’s father that I got to see in person during my special visit with my friends Dorothy Dietrich (foreground) and Dick Brookz (background) at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA.

Houdini Museum Scranton 925 cropped

This picture of his father, along with the one of his mother (pictured above) hung on the wall of Houdini’s New York home at 278 West 113th Street in Harlem.

H A P P Y  F A T H E R ‘ S  D A Y !

Grand Magical Review 102 years ago today

JUNE 12 1914 EMPIRE THEATRE NOTTINGHAM

In May, I shared an ad for Houdini’s Grand Magical Review that shared 6 effects.  The above ad from 102 years ago today shares the same 6 effects plus two additional effects, Lady Godiva and DeKolta’s Marvelous Cube.

  • Lady Godiva – A lady and pony disappear.
  • DeKolta’s Marvelous Cube – A large black die, about eight inches square, with white spots painted on it expands in a fraction of a second to a giant die about a cubic yard.

This appearance at the Empire Theatre in Nottingham was most likely the last time Houdini presented his Grand Magical Review.

Some of the other places he presented it were at Tivoli Theatre Barrow-in-Furness, Empire Theatre Leeds, Empire Theatre Bristol, Palace Theatre Oldham, Palace Theatre Hull, and King’s Hall Dover.

Source:

  • The Repro 71 Harry Houdini Portfolio
  • Hiding The Elephant by Jim Steinmeyer
  • The Illustrated Houdini Research Diary Part 4: 1911 to 1915 by Frank Koval
  • Houdini The British Tours by Derek Tait, 2011

Hollywood Reporter LINK: In 1919, Houdini Was Seduced by Movie Magic

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Hollywood Flashback: In 1919, Houdini Was Seduced by Movie Magic – Hollywood Reporter

The famed magician, whose life was the inspiration behind 2013’s ‘Now You See Me’ and its sequel (out June 10), made his Hollywood debut in silent action films such as ‘The Grim Game’ and ‘Terror Island.’

Click the Hollywood reporter link below to read the rest of the story:

Note: The above story mentions that [Harry] Houdini lived in L.A. at 1616 N. Curson Ave. which is not quite true; it was actually Bess Houdini that lived there with Ed Saint sometime around 1936.

LINK: Houdini was better at magic than cycling

Mil Catch Wheel Fever

Image courtesy of David Saltman at HoudiniFile.com

Below are snippets from a 2010 article on Milwaukee published by Pete Ehrmann that said Harry Houdini was better at magic tricks than bicycle racing:

Draped in chains and locked in a trunk that was tossed overboard, Harry Houdini would be free and swimming to the surface before the trunk sank to the bottom. No jail cell or straitjacket could hold him. But 117 [122] years ago, the great escape artist was just another guy who cried uncle riding a bicycle from Waukesha to Milwaukee in the most grueling race in the country.

A shade longer than 16 miles, the Waukesha Road Race [WRR] started at the Waukesha County Courthouse in what was then a resort village accessible from Milwaukee only by train or horse, and proceeded east along the Waukesha Road (now Highway 18, or West Blue Mound Road) to Brookfield, then east along Watertown Plank Road through Wauwatosa and finished at North 28th Street and West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee.

Nineteen-year-old Houdini — then still known as Erich Weiss, an avid bike racer, swimmer and boxer — started the race in ‘93. “But he was faster with his hands than with his feet,” Milwaukee cyclist Ed Aldridge recalled in a 1928 interview, and couldn’t overcome the hazardous course.

“For the first mile from the starting point — the Courthouse in Waukesha — the road is level and quite smooth and hard until the first hill is reached,” reported The Milwaukee Journal in 1892. “Though generally hard to climb, owing to the cinders and dust, wheelmen will find it a much more difficult task this year, as the road has been recently covered with about three inches of soft, loose gravel.”

Except for the choking dust, it was relatively smooth sailing until the riders pedaled out of Wauwatosa on Stone Quarry Hill, “about 100 feet long and very steep, besides being very rough.”

Click the link below to read the article in its entirety:

Was he even in Milwaukee on July 4th,1893 when the WRR was held that year?

  • One would think that 1883 [to 1886] when he was living in Milwaukee would make more sense, except the first WRR started August 9th, 1890.
  • According to The Metamorphosis by Bruce MacNab, Houdini was in Chicago in May 1893 and then spent the rest of the year playing third-rate theatres throughout the northern states.
  • According to Entertainment in Early Milwaukee by Larry Widen, Houdini performed at all of Milwaukee’s dime museums between 1892 and 1898.

Thoughts?

Related:

Lot 120 One Sheet Grim Game Poster

Lot 120 PP June 25

On June 25th, Potter&Potter will be having a Golden Age of Magic Posters the Nielsen Collection auction that will include a beautiful one sheet Grim Game Poster (See Lot 120 Description below).  For more details on other items being offered and a downloadable catalog, you can go to Potter and Potter website: http://www.potterauctions.com/.

The estimate for the Grim Game poster is $40,000/60,000.

Lot 120 Description:

Houdini, Harry (Ehrich Weisz). Houdini In The Grim Game. Cleveland: Morgan Litho., 1919. Iconic one-sheet poster for this silent film presented by Jesse Lasky, and featuring the world’s most famous magician and escape artist, pictured at the center of the image in a straight jacket and being held back by a group of eight men, including police and hospital attendants. 28 x 41″. Minor restoration at old folds and a few tiny chips. A-. Scarce. Houdini starred in this stunt and escape-filled film opposite Ann Forrest, who played his fiancée. As Harvey Hanford, Houdini is framed for murder and falsely imprisoned, but escapes his jail cell and pursues the men who framed him and also kidnapped his fiancée. The film concludes with a mid-air collision of two airplanes, which was unplanned at the time of the filming, but was later worked in to the script to utilize footage of the crash, an event that had, until that time, never been captured on film. The movie was directed by Irvin Willat and featured a story by John Grey and Arthur Reeve. Produced by Famous Players-Lasky, it was distributed by Paramount Artcraft Pictures. All posters advertising this film are scarce and desireable, as they combine the allure of the silent film era with the unforgettable and iconic escapes that made Houdini the most famous magician of the century.

Related:

Mere Man Battles Nature – 300 feet of film is missing

 

Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 photoWhile filming a moving picture [Terror Island] on Catalina Island in California, he took part in a real-life nautical drama.  A small vessel had been disabled and was in immediate danger of capsizing or smashing into the rocks off Sugar Loaf Point. [The Witch of Lime Street]

Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 snippet 1

In response to the crew’s distress calls, Houdini quickly secured himself to a line and dove into the turbulent waters.  Shielding himself from the surf with a life preserver extended in front of him, he propelled himself with froglike strokes toward the stranded men – who, as if so directed, were waving and yelling for help.  While onshore a crowd in front of the Hotel St. Catherine cheered the star’s effort to save them. [The Witch of Lime Street]

Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 snippet 2

The scene did not unfold as it would have in one of his melodramas.  Exhausted, Houdini was cut on the rocks and battered almost unconscious.  He had to be saved by deep-sea divers.  It took a motor launch nearly forty-five minutes to cut through the waves and reach the party.  Even so, he wondered to himself if he could have pulled off the feat when he was younger. [The Witch of Lime Street]

Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 snippet 3

300 feet of film at 20 fps (75 feet a minute) is 4 minutes of footage.

Where is this footage now?

Credits:

  • The newspaper photo and snippets are from the November 29th, 1919 Los Angeles Newspaper article reproduced by Patrick Culliton in The Tao of Houdini on page 153.
  • The italicized passages are from page 35 and 36 of The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher.

Related:

Houdini became a proselytizer for the Mother’s Day holiday

HRC Houdini Mother Cecilia

Image of Houdini’s Mother Cecilia courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

H A P P Y  M O T H E R ‘ S   D A Y !

Perhaps most bizarrely, but unsurprisingly, Houdini became a proselytizer for the Mother’s Day holiday, which was formally established in 1914. Following tradition, he sent red carnations to all of the living mothers he knew and white carnations for the graves of mothers who had gone. Presumably, his mother’s grave overflowed with the white flower.

The above is a snippet from the following bio that has a lot of interesting information on Houdini and his mother.

Enjoy and don’t forget to wish all the Mom’s you know a Happy Mother’s Day!

HH and Mother

Houdini’s Grand Magical Revue 102 Years Ago

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Houdini premiered his “Grand Magical Revue” in British cities through the spring of 1914.  It probably played a dozen times.  Above is an ad from the Library of Congress for a performance that was presented 102 years ago, today at the Palace Theatre, Hull.

Below are brief descriptions for each effect:

  1. The Crystal Casket – Houdini opened the show by picking a number of coins; he seemed to toss them toward the box that was suspended by two ribbons over the stage.
  2. Good-Bye Winter – Houdini’s title for Morritt’s disappearance of a person atop a stack of tables.
  3. Money for Nothing – Houdini’s version of the classic coin-catching routine, where he would produce five hundred gold sovereigns from a cloth bag, .
  4. The Arrival of Summer – Morritt’s production of a lady from a pyramid-shaped box.
  5. Calico Conjuring –  Houdini cut and burned and then magically restored a long strip of cloth.
  6. Metamorphosis -Houdini closed the show with his popular trunk illusion

Related:

Source:

  • Hiding The Elephant by Jim Steinmeyer
  • Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss by Kenneth Silverman
  • The Illustrated Houdini Research Diary Part 4: 1911 to 1915 by Frank Koval