A Look Back at 2017

2017 was an amazing year for Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence (HHCE) for a number of reasons.

Started the year off by sharing some amazing information about Houdini’s relationship with Hardeen, the Keaton’s, and Hackenschmidt. Included new insight to Coney Island story, additional info on Buster Keaton story, and evidence of Houdini promoting wrestling matches.




Shared some thoughts and answers to the following questions:

Shared evidence of a second prison cell and Barrel Mystery poster:

Shared Chef Houdini recipes while honoring Chef Gene, a fellow Houdini Nut, who just got married this year:

Shared beautiful 1976 Volare Auto brochures and 1977 Pharmaceutical calendar ads of iconic Houdini feats:

Shared some amazing Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh ads:

Shared Houdini’s last week leading up to his death as reported by The Philadelphia Record Newspaper:

Shared some national holiday related posts:

Shared my holiday travels:

Shared news from Houdini Museum – Scranton:

Last but not least, shared some incredible ads, photos, and not widely known info about Houdini and his movies.

Master Mystery:

Grim Game:

Terror Island:

Man From Beyond:

Thanks to all the readers out there for your support. And a special thanks to Dick Brookz, Narinder Chadda, John Cox, Dorothy Dietrich, Leo Hevia, and Fred Pittella for your many contributions to this site.

Also would like to give a shout out to my fellow Houdini bloggers for keeping Houdini alive and well in 2017 at their excellent blog sites:

2018 should be another amazing year for Houdini.

LINK: How About Some Magic for the Holidays

Dayton Daily News, Dec 11, 1916, page 4

Traveling back 101 years this week to December 1916 in Dayton Ohio, Houdini was one of three performers competing for viewers.

Dayton Daily News, Dec 10, 1916, page 8

Below is a link to a 2016 Dayton News Archive article by Bill Stolz about families seeing a performance during the holidays which has some nice references to Houdini performance at B.F. Keith’s Theatre in 1916.

H A P P Y  H O L I D A Y S ! ! !


Back to Work on Dec 4th

I am back to work on Dec 4th after a vacation that wasn’t long enough.

In 1911, Houdini also returned to work on Dec 4th after a vacation that wasn’t long enough:

“I…am confined to my bed with strict instructions not to move,” he wrote Goldston on November 20, “So I am taking a vacation laying on the broad of back and doing some thinking. I have cancelled a number of weeks, but I will be able to go to work as the hemmorrage [sic] has already stopped, but must give the broken vessel [that burst early in Nov during one of his escapes in Detroit] a chance to heal.”

By November 30, Houdini was walking around. “I am allowed to go to work next week, under the condition that I do not do any strait jackets for several months,” he wrote Dr. Waitt. [Source: The Secret Life of Houdini p269; Image: Collection of Joseph Hanosek]

On Dec 4th, Houdini opened in Columbus, Ohio at the B.F. Keith’s Theatre.


School of Visual Arts Master of Arts Program with Elane Bryne and Dorothy Dietrich

On Tuesday, November 21, 2017, New York’s Prestigious School of Visual Arts Master of Fine Arts program presented world famous artist Elaine Byrne who spoke about her works including her recent video installation, “women boxed”.

“women boxed” features found footage of the magic trick of women being sawed in half and an interview with barrier-breaking magician Dorothy Dietrich.

women boxed is a three-channel video installation that invites dialogue about how women’s labor is viewed in society, using the magic trick of sawing a woman in half as a pivotal metaphor.

Dorothy Dietrich.is known as “the first lady of magic,” “The Woman Who Saws Men in Half”, and the first and only women in history to accomplish the jinxed catching of a bullet in her mouth, often called the stunt that scared Houdini.

Dorothy Dietrich was scheduled for final interview portion of the event.

Byrne observes, “The world of magic has been dominated by men, where the magician actively drives the story and the female assistant functions as a spectacle for the male gaze. The magician’s assistant brings the action to a stop and captures the spectator’s attention—she freezes the flow of events for moments of erotic contemplation.” Evoking ever-present gender inequality, the female assistant plays the role of victim. She is a woman literally encased in a box, seeming to await her fate. In actuality, the female assistant is largely responsible for the success of the trick, but her labor is hardly recognized.

One of Byrne’s three videos was recently filmed on location at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where the artist filmed the renowned female magician, Dorothy Dietrich. Dietrich speaks about her role as a female magician in a male-dominated industry. At a time when women continue fighting for many freedoms and equalities all over the world, women boxed alludes to these struggles through the arena of magic and illusion.

“women boxed” was coordinated by Alexandra Friedman, Program Coordinator, ISCP. ISCP supports the creative development of artists and curators, and promotes exchange through residencies and public programs. This exhibition was supported, in part, by Yoko Ono, by New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

“Maker” magician Mario Marchese gave a fun magic performance, and an interview and question and answer session between the guests followed. Dorothy Dietrich was asked by an audience member is she could do a magic trick. She took a sheet of newspaper from someone in the front row and proceeded to tear it in half in whimsical manner, and the audience gasped when she instantaneously restored it, that brought on resounding applause.

Historic Seance to be held at site of Houdini’s first New York home

Historic Original Houdini Seance to be held at Sojourn Restaurant – The Site of Houdini’s First Home in NY, on  Halloween, Tuesday October 31, 2017

Headed up by renowned magician Dorothy Dietrich   Opening at 11:30 AM, near the time of Houdini died on Halloween.
2017 is the 100th anniversary of Houdini becoming the President of The Society of American Magicians.

The internationally famous Original Houdini Seance event will begin at  close to the exact time Houdini died on Halloween. This will all be free for magicians and fans of Houdini. Complimentary food will be provided.  The Sojourn Restaurant is located at 244 East 79 St., NY., which was the site of his first home in New York City at the age of 13, in 1887.  The  building that was once a boarding house, where young Ehrich Weiss and his father stayed when they first arrived in New York. Amazingly, the building would still be recognizable to Houdini and his father today. The Original Houdini Seances have been done by Dorothy Dietrich for many years at New York’s legendary Magic Towne House in New York City, and later at The Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pa., the only building in the world dedicated to the world’s most iconic magician.  (http://Houdini.org) New York City was the lifetime home of Houdini.  The Houdini Seances are attended on a regular basis by the closest living relatives of Houdini. The Houdini Museum is under the close guidance of Houdini’s family. They have also asked the museum to do upkeep and repairs at the Houdini’s Grave. The museum recently received world wide acclaim for replacing the bust of Houdini at his grave that had been missing for 36 years, and for getting Turner Classic Movies to restore Houdini’s long lost and best movie, “The Grim Game”.

In 1917 Houdini became President of The Society of American Magicians on hundred years ago. . It was a small single club in New York City at the time. Houdini promoted the organization all over the world in what he called the greatest movement in magic history.  He paid, out of his own money, for banquets for magicians in cities all over the world to come have a free dinner, learn about the organization and join if they wish.  It expanded quickly.  It now has hundreds of clubs and thousands of members.  They now take in a half a million dollars each year in dues, and have nearly 2 million dollars in their bank account, thanks to Mr. Houdini.

Walter B. Gibson, Dorothy Dietrich and Milbourne Christopher

October 31, Halloween, marks the anniversary of the death of Harry Houdini. Each year since his death a tribute in the form of a seance has been conducted on this day. The first ten seances were done by his wife Bess as a tribute and test.  In his effort to challenge the crooked mystics and psychics who claimed they can make contact the dead, he told people to save their money and not be cheated by those who make such claims! Houdini famously said if he, the greatest escape artist of all time, could not escape from the beyond and return, no one could
After ten years Houdini’s wife passed on the legacy and tradition to Houdini biographer, friend and writer Walter B. Gibson. Walter B. Gibson was the creator of “The Shadow” one of the most famous radio mystery series of all time. It started out as a novel, a radio show, a television show and then a movie starring Alec Baldwin. The shows catch phrase, “The Shadow knows!” has been repeated thousands of times by comedians and others through the years. Walter B. Gibson helped Houdini in some of his literary projects, and after Houdini died Gibson wrote several early biographies and magic secret books culled from Houdini’s private notes that Bess and her lawyer let Gibson use. Before Mr. Gibson died he passed on the tradition to well known magic celebrity, Dorothy Dietrich (http://DorothyDietrich.com).

Dorothy Dietrich has been called “one of the most noted magicians of the late 20th century” by Columbia Encyclopedia, Columbia University Press. She’s one of the world’s best known magicians and has been called “The First Lady of Magic” and “The Female Houdini”. She has appeared in many television specials, and is the first and only woman in history to perform the death defying Bullet Catch in her mouth, that has killed 12 men. It’s the “the stunt that scared Houdini” who backed out after announcing he would attempt it. She is also the first and only woman to perform a straitjacket escape from a parachute ride while suspended hundreds of feet in the air from a burning rope, as shown on the HBO special, The World’s Greatest Escapes, that she starred in.  She is also known as “The first woman to saw a man in half!” She is considered a leading collector and expert on Houdini. Recently, the Internet’s main site for Houdini news, WildAboutHoudini.com, heralded, “She’s not only a bonafide legend of magic, but she is a tireless and selfless promoter of Houdini’s history and legacy. With her museum, radio show, TV appearances, and her continued upkeep of Houdini’s grave site, it could be said that no one is as devoted to preserving Houdini’s memory as Dorothy Dietrich.” When not traveling, Dietrich performs at The Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA, where she is also a director. It is the only building in the world dedicated to Houdini, filled with artifacts, historical displays and information on Houdini. She has been featured on numerous television shows and channels world wide including the BBC, CBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, Travel Channel, Biography Channel, History Channel, TV Land, “Mysteries at the Museum”, etc,

HOUDINI MUSEUM FALL AND WINTER SCHEDULE During the Fall and Winter months The Houdini Museum is open weekends for tours and a magic show, as well as any day of the week for school and bus groups, and magical birthday parties. Reservations suggested. A separate presentation put on by Psychic Theater (http://PsychicTheater.com) “Haunted! Mysteries of THE Beyond.” takes place in the evenings. It is a hit fun mystery show that has been running for over thirteen  years. The longest running show of its kind in history

Contact Penny Wilkes
Houdini Museum, Tour & Magic Show
1433 N. Main Ave. Scranton, PA 18508
(570) 342-5555
(570) 383-1821
Historic Original Houdini Seance to be held at Sojourn Restaurant. Houdini’s First Home in NY, on Halloween, October 31, 2017

The Spectacular Release From the Cannon Wheel

To kick off October, thought I would share a Pharmaceutical Calendar Ad from 1977, I recently acquired about The Spectacular Release From The Canon Wheel:
According to Houdini, the success of this feat relied more on show than actual skill. Audiences were thrilled by the scale of the cannon wheel which was quite simple to escape from compared to the smaller, less imposing farm wheel which, in reality, presented a greater challenge.

The cannon wheel release required that Houdini be bound “spread eagle” fashion to the big wheel. His wrists, ankles and neck were lashed to the spokes with ropes, the ends of which were fastened around the rim. His waist was held by another rope that was tied to the center of the wheel.

[It then goes on to explain in detail how he escaped]

Note: October is number 5 (DM-73305) from a series of 6 (DM-73301 to DM-73306). I also have number 1 (Jun), number 2 (Jul) and number 4 (Sep) from the series which I previously posted:

John Cox at Wild About Houdini has number 3 (Aug) from 1977 which he recently posted:

I would love to find the last one of the series, number 6.