A Look back at 2014

2014 was an amazing year for Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence (HHCE) for a number of reasons:
William Bennet the MirrorRep and HHStarted the year off with a post revealing a name for the representative from the Mirror.

That led to the folks at Handcuffs.Org doing a full scale search for the man.  Click on the link below and type William Bennett [aka William A Bennet and William Gray] in the Search for box and hit Go!.

Campbell and Grey Cheapside Handcuff PhotosSpeaking of handcuffs, I did a number of blogs on handcuffs in 2014:

Attended a number of excellent Houdini events with fellow Houdini “Nuts”:

haunted houdini 1 (1)Malibu Playhouse Flim Flam

Discovered and revealed several rare photos of Houdini in Hollywood:TMPW June 14 1919 WH HHHH Human Chain

Discovered and shared some fascinating information on Whitehead:whitehead

Set the record straight on some fallacies WRT Houdini:houdini smoking

Shared some incredible Grim Game ads, photos, and not widely known info about Houdini and the movie:airplane-collision-in-the-clouds

Shared some incredible Master Mystery ads, images, and not widely known info about Houdini and the movie:filmfun346356lesl_0374

Shared some incredible Terror Island ads and not widely known info about Houdini and the movie:amazing-under-water-scenes

Uncovered a 1926 railroad time table that may show the details of Houdini’s overnight train ride from Montreal to Detroit on October 23-24:1926 TimeTable Montreal to Detroit

Help unfold the Double Fold Milk Can Mystery:HofF Milk June 1980

Mentioned numerous times by John Cox at his Wild About Harry (Houdini) blog and Facebook pages:

Last but not least, my son got married in 2014 to a beautiful girl.

I am truly blessed and look forward to 2015, when hopefully we all get to see the Grim Game:

298-27 Sphinx Sept 15, 1919 v18n7 (L302-27)

L302-14

Enjoy the rest of 2014 and see you next year.

LINK: The Grim Game Review by Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz

Grim Game Lobby Card eBayOur friends, Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz of The Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA did a nice review of The Grim Game that they were fortunate enough to see several times in NYC, when they were living and performing in New York City, shown by collector Larry Weeks.

MUM New York, August 1919 page 20Check it out:

You will also find some other nice Grim Game links at their website:

Is 2015 the year of The Grim Game?

Related Posts:

Random Treasures Inaugural Auction was a Grim Game

Last Week, Random Treasures International had their inaugural auction that had approximately 25 Houdini items up for bid. Twelve of the items got passed on without a bid, including a Buried Alive Poster for $13,000. The starting bids were awfully high on most items IMHO.  The items that did sell were the photos and movie related items and they went between $200 and $410 w/o auction fees, despite many of them being cropped on the web-page.  I bid on one item and won, or at least I thought I did, but when I checked the site later, there was no confirmation.  I sent an email via LiveAuctioneers to Random Treasures International requesting status, but never heard anything one way or another. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.  That said, there were three Grim Game stills for sale, L302-54 (Lot 80), L302-14 (Lot 82) and L302-42 (Lot 84) which I would like to comment on:

L302-14

To read about the events that led up to Houdini going over the wall in the movie, see the following post: Over the Edge With Death Below and Imprisonment Above!

 

L302-54To read about why Houdini is being visited at the jail cell in the movie, see the following post: THE GRIM GAME Cinema Trade Promotion (Stills 298-54 and 298-63)

 

L302-42

And keep reading this blog to find out what the scene in still L302-42 is all about:

As Houdini creeps toward the door of the Lodge, the unknown assailant seizes a bolo from the wall and hides under the cot.  Houdini cautiously, closes the door behind him and strikes a match.  He throws the burning match on the floor, then turns and starts towards Ethel’s unconscious form.  He steps in his tracks as the burning match which he dropped near the cot is put out by a hand from under the cot.  Houdini is standing very close to the cot when he sees this.

We see Houdini’s boots standing near the cot. The bolo swings viciously toward them and they crumble.

We then see that Houdini, has swung himself to the rafter, leaving the boots on the floor.  He swings his legs over the rafter, reaches down and lifts the cot from over his man.  In the light we recognize Allison.

Houdini drops from the rafter and a terrific fight ensues between Allison armed with the bolo and Houdini.  [Paraphrased from Paramount Files at Margaret Herrick Library]

The Hungarian Handcuff

If you were observant, my last two posts on handcuffs, had references to a Hungarian Manacle and a Hungarian Cuff.  And if you were really observant, you would have noticed in the ad with Houdini wearing the Hungarian Cuff that is was upside down.

Hungarian Cuff The Boston American April 26 1904

The Boston American April 26, 1904

So what is the deal with this Handcuff?

According to The Key by Patrick Culliton on page 141:

Houdini named this cuff the Hungarian Manacle. It is known today as “the Séance Cuff” because Sid Radner uses it at his annual Houdini séances.

 

HUNGARIAN MANACLE Denver Post June 12 1904

The Denver Post June 12, 1904

According to The Secret Life of Houdini Laid Bare on page 109:

The so-called séance cuffs were called the “Hungarian Cuff” by Houdini and they were pictured by him in numerous articles [two of them are displayed above] as well as on his famous poster.

houdini-poster

Hungarian Seance Cuff

The Hungarian Manacle/Cuff is thought to be an earlier prototype of the Mirror Cuffs. These cuffs, unlike the Mirror challenge cuffs, are adjusted by moving screws in and out against the wrists so they could have been used to challenge people with different wrist sizes. It was originally thought to feature a single Bramah lock on the handcuffs shaped like a figure eight.  But thanks to Chris Gower who examined them in quite good detail when he met Sidney Radner at The Magic Circle, we know that:

They do NOT have a genuine Bramah lock on them and use a 5 slider copy lock, possibly French – the sort of cheaper Bramah locks found on small boxes. [Handcuffs.org – April 26 2007].

Radner with Seance Cuff on table

Image courtesy of Robert Sciarrino/ The Star-Ledger

Mirror Handcuff on Table

Unsatisfied, Houdini developed the diabolical Mirror Cuffs, which is said to consist of two nested Bramah locks.

Master Locksmith, Mick Hanzlik, suggested that Houdini wanted something bigger and brighter so that they could be seen at the back of a theatre, so the Mirror Cuffs were created. [Handcuffs.org – May 29, 2007]

10DCwithHoudiniPhoto_zps7986e002 (1)

Image of Mirror Cuff in David Copperfield Collection

As far as I know the only time that the Hungarian Manacle/Cuff was used by Houdini was to take a photo with them to be used for advertisements and the poster.  If you are aware of other times, please share.

Of course, now they are used at the annual Houdini séances.

2012 Seance Table with Cuffs

Image from 2012 Seance I attended

According to interviews with Sid Radner, he knows how to get out of the Séance cuff without the key.  When asked how long it would take for him to get out of them, he said “not too long, but I know the secret”. In fact, I read on Handcuffs.org that there is an article on Radner and the séance handcuff that has three photos showing him shaking the handcuffs off with the cuff falling open at the locking end.

In Backstage with Sid Radner [Mystifier 1st Qtr 1994], he mentions that sometime in the near future, he will supply the missing link to the Mirror Handcuff Challenge.

Are prototype cuffs like the Hungarian/Seance cuff the missing link to the Mirror Handcuff Challenge?

When were these handcuff photos taken?

Campbell and Grey Cheapside Handcuff Photos

These photos were all taken by Campbell and Grey, Cheapside and they might have been taken at the same session. If this is true, the photos below suggest they were taken sometime in 1903.

1903 Handcuff Photos from Original H Scrapbook

1903 Morris Young Collection

However the photo below suggests it was taken March 1904 during his engagement at the London Hippodrome.

Frank Koval photo

The famous photo of Houdini on stage at the London Hippodrome was also taken by Campbell and Grey, Cheapside the day of the Mirror challenge.  If this is true, then it was taken on March 17, 1904.

HoudiniHandcuffedLondonIllustratedMirrorRepresentative

What about the photo with Houdini sitting in a chair with the Mirror Cuffs now in David Copperfield’s collection.

Harry_Houdini-sittingWhen was it taken?  The photo in David’s museum has 1904 written on it.

10DCwithHoudiniPhoto_zps7986e002 (1)

Is that the same suit in the photo where he is sitting as the photos where he is standing? Possibly!

Is that the same haircut in the photo where he is sitting as the photos where he is standing? Not so sure!

When was this sitting photo published, first?  I would love to know.  There is evidence, he gave out signed copies with this image, as well has had handbills with the image advertising upcoming shows.   All the ones that I could find have dates from 1909 to 1914. Anyone know of any earlier?

mirror handbill from laid bare

1909

Mirror Hippodrome Sheffield Jul 26

1913 Engagement Cancelled due to death of Houdini’s Mother

 

Mirror Handcuff Photo from Origal H Scrapbook

1914 Signed

If you have any additional thoughts or other information on possible dates for these, please share.

Source:

  • The Boston American April 26, 1904
  • The Original Houdini Scrapbook
  • Houdini The Career of Ehrich Weiss
  • The Illustrated Research Diary
  • The Secret Life of Houdini Laid Bare
  • Houdini His Legend and His Magic
  • Handcuffs.Org

Eiffel Tower and Brooklyn Bridge?

 

terror-island-the_capital_times_-madison-wisconsin-wed__jun_30__1920_ (1)

Capital Times Madison Wisconsin Wed Jun 30 1920

The Terror Island ad above claims:

He has leaped, manacled off the Eiffel Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge, releasing himself before reaching the ground.

One of the FACT versus FICTION questions from the Houdini Miniseries Quiz was:

Houdini once jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge?

and the answer was:

Fiction, he leapt off Detroit’s Belle Isle Bridge, among others, but never New York’s favorite landmark.

Well, what about the Eiffel Tower? According to a Grim Game Ad, I blogged about a couple years ago:

As an instance he was once handcuffed, tied and sewn in a canvas sack, and thrown from Eiffel Tower, Paris.  Halfway down Houdini was out of the manacles and the sack and clinging to a parachute.

Of course that same Grim Game Ad also claimed:

He was thrown from Brooklyn Bridge locked in a steel safe.  He came up in one minute.

So take the ads for what they are.

Body of Harry Houdini lying in state at the West End Chapel?

97265995

(Photo by Hank Olen/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Caption:UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 04 1926: Body of Harry Houdini lying in state at the West End Chapel.

Above is an image that is reported to be the body of Harry Houdini lying in state at the West End Chapel.

Houdini died at Detroit, Michigan on October 31st, 1926.  His remains were prepared for burial by W.R. Hamilton & Company of Detroit and forwarded to New York City, where they were received by Samuel Rothschild on November 2nd, 1926.  For two days they lay in state in Mr. Rothschild’s establishment, the West End Funeral Chapel.

Rothschild and Sons West End Funeral Chapel

Rothschild and Sons West End Funeral Chapel

If we compare the New York Daily News photo with the photo below that appeared in a morticians trade magazine captioned as being Houdini at the West End Funeral Chapel (this photo also appears in The Secret Life of Houdini), they don’t appear to be the same casket.

houdiniincasket

(Photo courtesy of Houdinitribute.com)

Is Houdini in either of these caskets?

What about the casket being lowered into the ground at Machpelah Cemetery on November 4, 1926. which is our last look of Houdini on earth?

houdini casket

(Photo courtesy of Historic Films.com via WildAboutHoudini.com)

 

“Houdini Night” produced by Larry Weeks

Larry Weeks Magic Historian

Larry Weeks, the man who called himself “Houdini’s biggest fan”, passed away on October 13 at age 95. He was buried October 24, at Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, not far from Houdini’s grave just as he wished. The Official Houdini Séance in Danvers MA will pay tribute to Larry Weeks tonight on Halloween, the 88th anniversary of Houdini’s death.

Unfortunately, I missed my chance to meet Larry.

He was supposed to come to the Official Séance in 2012 in Fort Worth that I attended, but that was the week of Hurricane Sandy and his travel plans had to be canceled.

In 1981, I became a member of the Society American Magicians Southern California Assembly #22:

A short business meeting was held, and part of it was the third reading vote acceptance of Joe Notaro as a new member.  He is a student of Houdiniana and brought part of his collection in for exhibition.  He has photos, programs, posters, old and new books, and items of escapology. [MUM Volume 71 1982]

Had I lived in New York instead of Southern California at the time I became a member of the S.A.M., I may have met Larry and seen a showing of the Grim Game at “Houdini night” that he produced for Parent Assembly No. 1 in New York City:

The Oct 2 [1981] meeting of the Parent Assembly was truly inspirational.  A vast gathering of members, friends and guests met for “Houdini Night”, produced by Larry Weeks. Before the evening’s entertainment however, it was announced that the annual service at Houdini’s grave site will be held on Nov. 1st this year.

In keeping with the “Houdini Night” theme, Larry Weeks introduced those present who were friends, acquaintances, or scholars of Houdini.  These included: Sidney Radner, Mrs. Billie Dunninger, Dr. Joseph Fries, and Dr. Morris Young. [And Milbourne Christopher and Walter B. Gibson who each gave a talk and shared Houdini memories]

Larry displayed a miniature pair of Darby cuffs, which Houdini actually had made for his dog, Bobby, to slip out of.  The only escape dog.

Larry Weeks presented the entire film, “The Grim Game” Houdini’s first feature length film.  Although not an accomplished actor by any standards, Houdini’s skill and presentation were intriguing to watch.

A wonderful evening – thanks to Larry Weeks, Milbourne Christopher, Walter B. Gibson, Parent Assembly, and most of all Houdini

[MUM Volume 71 1982]

Have a Great Houdini Night!

H A P P Y  H A L L O W E E N !

Addendum:  In 1986, after a broken wand ceremony conducted at Houdini’s grave at Machpelah Cemetery in New York, on October 31st, Larry Weeks gave a lecture on Houdini and showed “The Grim Game” at the Glendale Public Library which is a short distance from the cemetery. [The Magic Circular Vol. 80 1986]

LINK: There Will Be No Fighting Over The Grim Game…Period!

298-27 Sphinx Sept 15, 1919 v18n7 (L302-27)

Sphinx Sept 15, 1919 v18n7

Many of us have been wondering what ever happened to Larry Weeks copy of “The Grim Game”.

As far as I know, it hasn’t been seen publicly since the 1980s:

Well, that could all change in the near future.  See Kevin Connolly’s post for more information.

Tomorrow, I will do a post about almost viewing the Grim Game at “Houdini Night” in 1981

Update: John Oliver was told 4 copies were made of The Grim Game and are now in private collections. Apparently a friend of John Oliver’s said he saw it last year at a home out east, and that after Larry Weeks passed they were to be made available.