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.


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?


  • 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.


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


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



  • 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

Woman Magician, Dorothy Dietrich, gets the two highest honors from The Society of American Magicians.

Magic’s most notable society gives Pennsylvania native an 8 page feature cover story in their MUM magazine, and separately the rarely bestowed Presidential Citation.


Dorothy Dietrich of Scranton Pennsylvania, originally from Erie PA, has been awarded magic’s most prestigious award, The Presidential Citation, as well as an 8 page feature cover story in their magazine, MUM, for her many historical accomplishments.  The Society of American Magicians is one of magic’s oldest, richest and most prestigious organizations with hundreds of clubs and thousands of members around the globe.  The Presidential Citation is the highest award the Society of American Magicians can bestow to any magician worldwide, and even rarer to be given to a female  in the male dominated field.  The Citation from President David Bowers to Dietrich along with business partner Dick Brookz states it is for “constant efforts to elevate and advance the art of magic” and “extraordinary support promoting the goals and the values of The Society of American Magicians.”  Dorothy commented “of all the many things I’ve accomplished in my career, this is a highpoint.  I couldn’t be more proud.” Bio at  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Dietrich)

Rankopedia.com’s  “Greatest magician of all time” ranking places Dorothy Dietrich in the top seven only proceeded in order by Houdini, Copperfield, Criss Angel, David Blaine, Penn &Teller, and Doug Henning.  No other woman appears in their listing of the top 20 magicians. http://www.rankopedia.com/Greatest-magician-of-all-time/Step1/3376.htm?

Brainz.org’s listing of the “10 Greatest Escape Artists in History” proclaims “Dorothy Dietrich is probably the best-known female escapologist of all time,” and named her as one of the top four with Houdini again being number one.

BulletCatchDietrich is considered the first woman to gain prominence as a female magician and escape artist since the days of Houdini, breaking the glass ceiling for women in the field. She’s the first and only woman to have performed the jinxed catching of a bullet in her mouth. a feat that has killed twelve men and injured many others.  The bullet catch is the one stunt Houdini announced he would do and then backed out of.  She’s also the first woman to perform a straitjacket escape while suspended hundreds of feet in the air from a burning rope as shown on a Home Box Office Special The World’s Greatest Escapes.

Houdini-in-Grim-Game-at-Houdini-Museum-Scranton-PA-640x480Last year she uncovered Houdini’s best, and believed lost, film “The Grim Game.” It was restored and shown for the first time in 96 years at the finale of the week long Turner Classic Movies Festival in 2015 and televised last October. TCM flew Dietrich out to Hollywood for the premier of the restored film as the closing event to a standing ovation.  Additionally she replaced Houdini’s bust at his grave site destroyed by vandals and missing for over 30 years.  She is founder and director of The Houdini Museum of The Only Building in the World Dedicated to Houdini, originally the first Houdini museum in New York City at The Magic Towne House before moving the collection to Scranton, PA. in 1980.

EscapesThe 2006 Columbia Encyclopedia included Dietrich among their “eight most noted magicians of the late 20th century”.  Early on, as a teenager, she already was dubbed as “The First Lady of Magic.” Dietrich, often called the Female Houdini, has duplicated many of Houdini’s original escapes.  In addition to escapes and large-scale stunts, Dietrich performs magic with live animals such as doves, rabbits, poodles and ducks. She’s known for sawing men in half, and for levitating volunteers from the audience.  Dietrich has created special shows for such companies as Maidenform, Pooltrol, Yago Sangria, Manhattan Shirts, as well as fashion and cosmetic companies. She is a regular performer for trade and industrial events.

In the 2013 hit film, “Now You See Me,” Isla Fisher played an escape artist named Henley Reeves. In an interview Fisher said, “I watched all of Houdini’s work and Dorothy Dietrich, who is amazing, you have to watch her.”  “I got to train with Dorothy Dietrich” and “studied the life and work of illusionist Dorothy Dietrich to prepare for the role.”

TV appearancesDorothy Dietrich’s many appearances on national TV includes Home Box Office Special “The World’s Greatest Escapes” as special guest star, You Asked For It, Travel Channel, Magic Road Trip, Mysteries at The Museum, The Bill Cosby Variety Show, The Tom Snyder Show along with Kiss, Evening Magazine, The Montel Williams Show, twice with Rich Little on You Asked For It, Real People, TV Land’s Myths & Legends, Exploring The Unknown, Biography Channel’s Dead Famous-Houdini, Just For The Record, The Best of Everything, Klein Time with Robert Klein, Man and His Mysteries with Dick Van Patten, Pierre Ferland’s Autobus du Canada (three segments), SyFi Channel’s Deals From The Dark Side, Huff Post TV on Houdini’s Birthday, NPR Weekend edition  Trials and Tribulation of being a woman in a man’s field, PBS On The Pennsylvania Road, PBS Strange and Unusual Museums, and PBS Conversations.  Part of popular culture she was even mentioned in a segment on House MD in a scene about her bullet catch. (Year 8, Segment 8, Perils of Paranoia).

MUM Magazine story. (http://houdini.org/dorothydietrichbiographymum.html)

More Terror Island Posters

Last week we looked at a photo of some lost Terror Island Posters. So why should this week be any different.  Below are more posters which are found on page 12 of the Terror Island Pressbook.


Back in the day, exhibitors could purchase One Sheet posters for 12 cents, Three Sheet Posters for 36 cents, Six Sheet Poster for 72 cents, and the Twenty-four Sheet Poster for 1 dollar.  Can you imagine what one of these posters would go for today?

Now if we could just find one of these posters that survived.  That would truly be amazing!

And the winner of the Grim Game vs Terror Island at Potter & Potter’s Auction is?


On April 9th, Potter & Potter had a Houdiniana Auction that featured a large number of Houdini Movie Stills from the Grim Game and Terror Island.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

There was 16 Terror Island Movie Still Lots:

  • 178, 179, 184, 186, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 202, 209, 210, 219, 220, 230

There was 14 Grim Game Movie Still Lots:

  • 175, 176, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 203, 204, 217, 218, 221, 224, 231

Terror Island Notes: Lot 230 from Terror Island was misidentified as being a Movie Still from Haldane of the Secret Service. Lots 179, 190 and 210 listed the wrong serial number.

Grim Game Notes: Lot 232 from the Master Mystery was misidentified as being a Film Still from the Grim Game. Lot 204 listed the wrong serial number.

Terror Island lots brought in $9150 before buyer’s premium.

Grim Game lots brought in $8400 before buyer’s premium.

The highest Grim Game Lot (L302-87) below brought in $1700 before buyer’s premium.


The highest Terror Island Lot 230 (L318-19) below brought in $950 before buyer’s premium.


So based on the numbers who do you think won?

If you log into Live Auctioneers you can see all the auction results.

Lovecraft Letter – Witchcraft Article

Witchcraft Manuscript Lot 67 Potter and Potter Aug 23 2014

After writing the Astrology Article, Lovecraft’s next job for Houdini was to write an article on witchcraft as evidenced by an October 11, 1926 letter to Wilfred Blanch Talman:

“This present season I’m as busy as hell with some special revisory work which I’ve been doing for the well-known conjuror Houdini. I’ve done stuff for him before; but last week he performed in Providence, and took the opportunity to have me go over a lot of stuff which required constant consultation. It was the raw material for a campaign against astrology; and being somewhat in my line, (I had a campaign of my own on this subject in 1914) I rather enjoyed the digging up of data—though it was beastly laborious, and forced me to work continuously till night before last with very little sleep. If it doesn’t knock out all the star-gazing charlatans in the country, I shall feel deeply disappointed!  My next job for the sprightly wizard is an article on witchcraft which makes me lament with redoubled intensity the lack of a peek at the Waite book.”

Just like the Astrology manuscript, the Witchcraft manuscript also exists and has been seen at auction a couple times:

Lot 179 of the October 31st 2002 Swann Auction – Magic: Featuring the Manny Weltman Houdini Collection

Lot 179 Witchcraft Manuscript Swann 2002 Auction

Lot 67 of August 23rd 2014 Potter & Potter Auction – Houdiniana:

Houdini, Harry. Witchcraft. An unpublished manuscript by Houdini. [New York?], 1926.

Detailed and important typescript with a profusion of holographic corrections and additions in Houdini’s hand throughout. The subject covered is, broadly stated, witchcraft. Houdini examines the entire subject, and gives a thumbnail sketch of its history, drawing and quoting heavily from published sources. More specifically, near the end of the manuscript Houdini writes in detail about the Witch of Endor, a medium in ancient times who wasreportedly able to summon the spirit of Samuel at the command of King Saul of the Kingdom of Israel. In much the same way Houdini crusaded against spiritualists in his 1924 book A Magician Among the Spirits (several subjects from which appear in passing in these pages), so does this manuscript demonstrate his unwavering crusade against pillars of the spiritualist faith, which so often used Bible stories as support for its cause. A total of 62 numbered pages on 4to sheets, typed on rectos only, some significantly larger after cutting-and-pasting. The professional tone suggests a guiding editorial hand, while the hundreds of corrections in Houdini’s hand show his tendency toward misspellings and awkward phrases. Some corrections are in pencil or red pencil. A copy of an unsigned letter regarding Houdini’s work on the manuscript, dated July 16, 1926, is included, and shows that this was one of the last publishing projects he was working on before his death. Accompanied by a letter of provenance tracing the ownership of the manuscript.

[Sold for $15,000]


Is it possible that the Astrology manuscript and Witchcraft manuscript were to be part (chapters) of the “The Cancer of Superstition” book that Harry Houdini hired Lovecraft and his friend C.M. Eddy, Jr. to write?

It would be nice to see all of the pieces (outline and chapters) put together and published in some form:

  • handwritten outline, by H.P. Lovecraft, published in The Dark Brotherhood
  • handwritten manuscript by Eddy that included revisions with Lovecraft’s penmanship, the first chapter (‘The Genesis of Superstition’) of three is published in The Dark Brotherhood.  According to Eddy family members, the first two chapters were approved by Houdini and the third sent to him while Houdini was on tour.
  • typescript manuscript (article) , as offered for sale by Potter & Potter, which includes three parts (‘The Genesis of Superstition’, ‘The Expansion of Superstition’ and ‘The Fallacy of Superstition’) not published.
  • Astrology handwritten manuscript (article) by H.P. Lovecraft not published.
  • Witchcraft typescript manuscript (article), by H.P. Lovecraft (?) that included revisions with Houdini’s penmanship, not published.


  • Selected Letters II – H.P. Lovecraft