I thought I would do a series of posts on a story and some correspondence I recently acquired on eBay about Houdini and Ponzi Gwynne.
In Part 1, we get introduced to Houdini and Jack Gwynne, a Young Magician who fooled Houdini with a Sucker Chicken Vanish.
The other parts of the story will describe Ponzi Gwynne the chicken that Jack Gwynne gave to Houdini, then back to Jack, and finally to Hardeen.
Here is the story of the Vanishing Chicken as told to Jay Marshall by Jack Gwynne.
To be continued!
Today we conclude the series on Houdini Grim Game Cards throughout the years. Last time, we looked at the Sketch Card category. This time we are taking a look at the Miscellaneous Card category which will include Post Cards, Magic Cards, Playing Cards and a First Day Cover (FDC).
- L302-84 Harry in the Paramount Picture, The Grim Game, 1919 Courtesy of the Sidney Radner Collection at the Houdini Historical Center, Appleton, WI 54911
- Harry Houdini with is costar Ann Forrest in the Paramount Picture, The Grim Game, 1919 Courtesy of the Sidney Radner Collection at the Houdini Historical Center, Appleton, WI 54911
First Day Cover (FDC):
Since it was 111 years ago today that Harry Houdini was presented with the Solid Silver Manacle, I thought I would share the text from an article that appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post the day after he released himself from the Mirror Cuff that makes reference to this triumph and being presented with a solid silver model as well as another challenge of this kind where he was presented with a silver bowl. Enjoy!
THE TRIUMPH OF HOUDINI.
As already mentioned in the “Gossip of the Day,” Houdini the “handcuff king” was challenged in London to free himself from pair of handcuffs forged by a Birmingham blacksmith, and which took five years in the making. Though Houdini confines himself in public exhibitions to ” regulation ” patterns, he accepted the challenge, and the contest took place at the London Hippodrome yesterday afternoon. After being duly manacled, he was shut up in a cabinet in the arena. Alter about half an hour he came out “for change of air.” Another half-hour passed. and then he came forth to say that could not work with his coat on. Holding a knife between his teeth, he cut his coat away, and then, amid great applause, he emerged free, and was borne in triumph round the arena.
OVERCOME BY THE STRAIN.
But the strain had been too much for the “handcuff king,” and he sobbed as though his heart would break. With a mighty effort, however, he regained his composure, and received the congratulations in the true sportsmanlike spirit he has shown throughout the contest. It was intimated to the audience that beautiful solid silver model of the handcuffs would be made, and presented to Houdini.
A FORMER CHALLENGER.
This is not the first challenge of the kind Houdini has accepted and won. The students at Krupp’s works at Essen forged him a bracelet, from which they said it would take him a week to free himself. He was free within the hour, and was afterwards presented by the students and his admirers with a silver bowl in celebration of his feat.
Note: One of his finest feats was this undoing of a handcuff specially forged in May 1901, by Herr Krupp’s workmen at Essen. These cuffs took twenty minutes to lock. They gave, and could be narrowed by screws to squeeze the wrist and the Krupp man screwed it down until it touched the bone of Houdini. It took him 35 minutes to get free, and years later he still bore the marks of that struggle on his right wrist. As an acknowledgment of that wonderful effort he was presented with a silver bowl and a check according to Yorkshire Evening Post dated December 06, 1902.
On March 20, three days after the challenge, Houdini offered a challenge to the Mirror:
“London Hippodrome, March 20, 1904
To Whom It May Concern!
Since my success in mastering the celebrated Daily Mirror Handcuff it has come to my knowledge that certain disappointed, skeptical persons have made use of most unjust remarks against the result of last Thursday’s contest.
In particular, one person has had the brazen audacity to proclaim himself able to open the Mirror Handcuff in two minutes.
Such being the case, I hereby challenge any mortal being to open the Mirror Handcuff in the same space of time that I did. I will allow him the full use of both hands; also any instrument or instruments, barring the actual key. The cuff must not be broken or spoilt. Should he succeed, I will forfeit 100 guineas.
Furthermore, it has reached my ears that people are saying that at the contest I slipped one hand before undoing the Mirror Handcuff. I now agree to forfeit a further sum of 25 guineas to anyone who can pick the handcuff within twenty-four consecutive hours with one hand locked in the manacle.
Should anyone accept these challenges, with above simple conditions, they must agree to make the test in my presence.
Harry Houdini “
Visiting the Houdini Museum and Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz in Scranton, PA has been on my To-Do list for quite a while. Well, with the latest announcement that The Grim Game will screen at the historic Leonard Theater in Scranton, PA on June 13th, there are no more excuses. I plan to be there to support Dorothy and Dick and be a part of this exclusive showing at The Leonard Theatre, “Scranton’s Oldest Theater”.
Below is the schedule for this special event:
6:00 PM – VIP Admission
6:00 to 7:00 PM – VIP Cocktail Party, includes hors d’ourves & OPEN bar.
7:00 PM – Reserved & General Admission
7:00 to 8:00 PM – Houdini displays, pre-movie discussion & cash bar.
8:00 PM – The Grim Game movie screening
9:30 to 10:30 PM – Houdini displays, post-movie discussion & cash bar.
For advance tickets, go to: www.theleonardtheater.com
Hope to see you, there.
But no one worshiped his mother more passionately than Harry Houdini. Ever since that day on his twelfth birthday when his father had made him swear on the Torah to take care of his mother, Houdini had more than fulfilled his pledge. As the country sang “I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl that Married Dear Old Dad,” Cecilia Weiss’s adoring son sought to be with her whenever he could, most especially on that Second Sunday in May 1912 – a day then gaining nationwide observance as Mother’s Day.
While playing in Hammerstein’s Victoria Theatre in New York in 1912, Houdini asked Willie Hammerstein for his weekly salary in gold. Hammerstein acceded to his odd request and gave Houdini a heavy canvas bag laden with one thousand dollars in gold coins. Then after having his assistants polish the “double eagles”, he entered his mother’s room at 278 and is said by Bess to have cried, “Mother, Mother, do you remember the promise I made to father years ago; that I would always look after you? Look what I bring you now! Hold out your apron! And with that he poured the glittering contents of the bag into his mother’s lap. His mother clasped her son to her bosom, and tears streamed down the cheeks of both of them.
H A P P Y M O T H E R ‘ S D A Y !
- Houdini: Escape Into Legend The Early Years: 1862-1900 By Manny Weltman
- Houdini His Life and Art by Bert Randolph Sugar
- The Great Escaper Illustrated by Annabel Large
Last month, this incredible press booklet for The Master Mystery, sold for $4,200.00 (not including buyer’s premium) at a Potter & Potter Auction. I would love to have added this to my collection. Congratulations to winner!
Below is the description of Lot 298:
Houdini, Harry. Press Booklet for The Master Mystery. New York: B.A. Rolfe Productions, (1919). Sixteen different folio-sized (12 x 9”) film exchange publicity cards featuring illustrated scenes from the serial, including Houdini and “Q” (the Automaton), beautifully printed in a variety of colors on a mixture of coarse, textured papers; with other enclosures as issued, including two promotional pictorial puzzle booklets featuring Houdini, two unused hold-to-light mystery labels depicting Houdini upside-down in shackles, and several of the studio’s newsprint-style “supplementary press sheets” providing publicity copy for each installment, all laid down; with poster distribution and booking statistics sheets at rear; in a pebbled black cloth Rolfe binder, some cards hole-punched as issued. Five of the publicity cards soiled at bottom right, a few others with small losses and creasing at upper or same.
Hopefully whoever won this treasure of treasures will make it all available for others to see in the future. Meanwhile, enjoy the publicity card images above and the related posts with other images of publicity cards below.
- Another Spanish-language Master Mystery Ad (HHCE)
- Spanish-language Master Mystery Ad (HHCE)
- The Master Mystery Insert Advertisement (Houdini Himself)
- Master Mystery sell sheets sell on eBay (Wild About Harry)
- Dr. Houdini meets Frankenstein (Wild About Harry)
- The man from the Hippodrome (Wild About Harry)
- Surrender to Houdini (Wild About Harry)
Today we continue the series on Houdini Grim Game Cards throughout the years. Last time, we looked at the Modern Trading Card category. This time we are taking a look at the Sketch Card category.
Let’s start by looking at the one of one Weird Tales Sketch Cards:
Next, let’s look at the one of one Sketch Card I own from Houdini’s The First World Super Hero Series:
- 2012 Worlds First Super Hero Sketch Card (Dan Gorman)
The sketch is from the following famous 298-47 still:
Our friend Bill Mullins alerts John Cox and I about an article in the Rockford Register-Republic dated Wednesday, January 16, 1957 about David Thompson who had just become a fledgling member of the National Real Estate flyer’s association at the time, but of course he was no newcomer to aviation:
He was an army test pilot for 20 months in 1917-19, and was called to Hollywood by Paramount Pictures after he left the air service signal corps (ancestor of today’s U.S. Air Force). His first movie stunt flight in Paramount’s, “The Grim Game”, was nearly Thompson’s last and ended with his plane flipping over. Thompson helped found the Mercury Aviation company in Hollywood, with Cecil B. DeMille as president. And was one of the earliest airline pilots. He holds the distinction of making the first flight from the U.S. to Mexico City.
You can read the full article below for this and more about David Thompson.
Some years after the movie was released, Houdini used the final sequence (AKA “Desperate Chances”) in a vaudeville act. One night Tommy (aka David Thompson) took his wife to see the act and found that after running the clip in which the stunt man faltered and the planes locked, Houdini referred to this as his narrowest escape. He then invited members of the audience on stage. Wondering what Houdini’s reaction to him would be, Tommy joined the group. The great escapist recognized him at once and, without the flicker of a lash, identified him to the audience as “the hero who saved my life in The Grim Game.” [Hollywood When Silents Were Golden]
Of course it was really Christopher V. Pickup in the upper plane who saved Robert E. Kennedy (Houdini’s stunt double) as he hung from the rope. Tommy actually flew the lower plane.
Congrats to Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz for the Houdini Museum being one of the best things to do in Scranton, PA. Check out the article below by Malerie Yole-Cohen:
I was fortunate enough to not only meet Dorothy and Dick during their historic visit to Hollywood, but also to be one of their invited guests that got a reserved seat at the TCM screening of The Grim Game.