Chef Houdini Recipes

In honor of Chef Gene, a fellow Houdini nut, who just got married, I thought I would do a post on Houdini recipes.

The first two recipes are courtesy of Houdini’s niece, Marie H. Blood:

  • Houdini’s Chicken Paprika:

  • Houdini’s Bread Pudding:

The last two recipes come from a couple vintage cookbooks I recently purchased.

  • Celebrated Actor-Folks’ Cookeries: A Collection of The Favorite Foods of Famous Players (1916), where Houdini has a recipe for “Bread-and-Butter Custard”:

  • The Stag Cook Book: A Man’s Cook Book for Men (1922), where Houdini has a recipe for “Scalloped Mushrooms and Deviled Eggs”:

Congrats Gene and Kirwan!  Hope you enjoy the recipes and the cookbooks.

Gotch Defeats Hackenschmidt and turns down Houdini

On April 3rd 1908 in Chicago, Frank A. Gotch defeated George Hackenschmidt the “Russian Lion” in an international wrestling match for the champion of the world.

Well supposedly in 1906, Houdini Defeated Hackenschmidt.   Let’s take a closer look.

According to Solomon in Disappearing Tricks:

The year 1906 also marks one of the earliest documented uses of cinema by Houdini. In March, a film listed as Houdini Defeats Hackenschmidt was shown immediately after Houdini’s performance at Keiths Theatre, Boston. All we know of this film is its title and a one-word description in the unpublished managers’ reports of the Keith vaudeville circuit: “Fair.” The title of the film is ambiguous because it is not clear how Houdini might have managed to defeat the heavyweight wrestler George Hackenschmidt.”

Houdini befriended Hackenschmidt while they were both touring Europe. Hackenschmidt’s act consisted of feats of strength and displays of his muscular body.  It is quite possible that the victory over Hackenschmidt alluded to in this film’s title did not occur in an athletic contest.

According to Silverman:

“Not one to be outdone, Houdini threw Hackenschmidt. Like Sandow and other strongmen, Hackenschmidt had a popular music-hall turn, exhibiting his build in attitudes meant to recall statues. He and Houdini often compared receipts, Hack conceding that the boxoffice record of 210 pounds he set at Sheffield had been overcome only by Houdini, at 300. Houdini discussed with him the possibility of copromoting a top-rank wrestling match, and hoped to bring him to the United States, presumably as his manager to star in vaudeville.”

Well in 1908, Houdini made an offer to Frank Gotch through Harry Day the London Agent to appear in the London halls, but Gotch turned down England:

Later in 1908, there were ads that alluded to a likely return wrestling match between Frank A. Gotch, the champion of the world, and Hackenschmidt although Houdini was not the promoter or was he?

Mystery of the Medicine Show Photo and its Performers

Last week I posted the above medicine show snapshot dated 1894 that most Keaton Historians believe was actually taken four years later.

The couples pose outside a tent with Dr. Hill, the resident Kickapoos, and a pair of dogs.  Bess and [pipe-smoking] Mira are dolled up in frilly gowns and hats, but it is Joe who dominates the picture, slouching like one of the outlaw Dalton brothers, legs defiantly apart, one hand on his hip, hat cocked at a rakish angle, a half-smoked cigar held between his fingers. [Buster Keaton Cut to the Chase]

It is believed to be a snapshot taken in the Winter (Dec 1897- Feb 1898), when the Houdini’s (Harry and Bess) were traveling with the Keatons (Joe and Myra) as part of Dr. Hills California Concert Company (Medicine Show)

[Note: Per Silverman Notes to Houdini, HH played with medicine shows earlier as part of the “Brothers Houdini”, having toured with Hamlin’s Wizard Company in Iowa in Feb 1893, and with Oliver’s Wizard Oil Company in Illinois in 1894.]

Was the photo misdated by four years to prove that Harry Houdini had been present at Buster’s birth?

The Three Keatons, New York ca 1899 by Feinberg (Studio)

Joseph Francis Keaton (aka Buster) was born on October 4, 1895.

His parents (Joe H. Keaton and Myra) were members of the Mohawk Indian Medicine Company, a traveling vaudeville show, (along with Harry Houdini?), and were in Piqua, Kansas when the baby arrived.

[Note: In September 1895, Houdini bought a half interest in the American Gaiety Girls and toured with the troupe (through eastern Pennsylvania and upper New York State and into New England) for five or so months as part proprietor and manager, before joining the Marco company in the Spring of 1896].

The story goes that when Keaton was a toddler (6 months old per Buster and 18 months old per Joe), Houdini witnessed him take a spill down a flight of stairs and emerged unharmed. “That was a real buster,” the legend has Houdini saying of the fall, and thus was a lifelong nickname born (unless the story is apocryphal, which is certainly possible).

Per Silverman Notes to Houdini, the myth was probably started by Buster himself, who admired and emulated Houdini.

According to Marion Meade’s, “Buster Keaton Cut to the Chase”: The first mention of Buster’s nickname appeared in a 1903 newspaper clipping, where Myra Keaton attributes the name to “a family friend” but didn’t mention the name.  The following year Joe identified him as George Pardey, the actor.  It was in 1921 that Buster (or his agent Harry Brand] decided to make Houdini a cornerstone of his legend.

So is the photo evidence that the Houdini’s (Harry and Bess) were traveling with the Keaton’s (Joe and Myra) as part of Dr. Hills California Concert Company in 1898?

To answer that, we need to be able to confirm their identity in the photo.

Harry Houdini was 5’-5.276” and Bess was lucky if she was 5’-0”.  Myra was not a tall gal (4’-11”) while Joe has been listed at 5’-11”.  So the women should be similar in height, but the woman identified as Bess appears to be much taller and doesn’t really look like Bess. As far as Houdini, the only one in that photo that remotely looks like Houdini is holding the dog on the left, not the one identified standing on the right.

I wonder if there is any legitimate print material evidence (photos, newspaper clippings, playbills, etc) ) to indicate Joe and Myra Keaton (Buster’s parents) were traveling with Harry and Bessie Houdini in the California Concert Co. (or perhaps, another traveling Medicine Show).   There is definitely evidence for Harry and Bessie:

BTW: According to Professor’s Solomon’s Lives of Conjurers, Volume Three, The California Concert Company was the joint enterprise of two medicine men, Dr. Hill and Dr. Pratt.  Dr. Hill was from San Francisco and in his early twenties.  He had shoulder-length hair (a coiffure popular with medicine men) and a full beard — a prophet hawking an elixir. Dr. Pratt was from Denver.  In Houdini: His Life-Story, Bess describes Pratt as “a white-haired old gentleman with the air of a retired clergyman”.  [Note: The doctor in the photo does not match either description for Dr. Hill or Dr. Pratt.]

If you have evidence for Joe and Myra Keaton, please share.

Special thanks to Ron Pesch for sharing controversial photo and newspaper roster clipping that inspired me to do this post.



Although not Medicine Show evidence, the following is evidence of Houdini on the same bill as the Three Keatons in a 1907 Boston Journal Ad that our friend Dean Carnegie found:

What’s wrong with the description of this photo?

Here’s a photo that a reader (i.e., Ron Pesch) shared with me that is very intriguing:

Is the date right? Is Harry Houdini and Bess Houdini really in the photo?

Please share any thoughts or comments on what is wrong with the description of this photo.  I will then follow up with a post that gives some more insight about the photo and the performers in the Medicine Show.

A Look Back at 2016, Part 2 – The Year of Lovecraft, Eddy and The Cancer of Superstition

2016 was an amazing year for Harry Houdini Circumstantial Evidence (HHCE) because it was the year of the Master Mystery which we covered in Part 1, but also for other highlights which we will cover in Part 2.

It was also the year of Lovecraft, Eddy and The Cancer of Superstition, where HHCE shared letters, evidence of articles (Astrology handwritten manuscript, Witchcraft typescript manuscript), and a Cancer of Superstition handwritten manuscript divided into 3 chapters (by Eddy that included revisions with Lovecraft’s penmanship) that was used to make the typescript that sold at Potter & Potter this year for $33,600.

Note: HHCE was referenced in Massimo Polidoro’s article on “Houdini and the Cancer of Superstition” that appeared in the November/December 2016 issue of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine.


Shared some thoughts and answers to the following questions:


Shared some magic related posts:

Honored Sweethearts, Mom’s, Dad’s, Independence, Police, Veteran’s and Family:

Shared some promotional material that included Straitjacket Escapes to promote the 1953 Houdini Movie and the historic 90th Séance at the site of Houdini’s first New York home:

Last but not least, shared some articles and information related to Houdini’s Death that very few people were aware of until HHCE shared them:

Where did Houdini spend his Last Thanksgiving?

Since Houdini died on October 31st, 1926, his last Thanksgiving was Thursday November 26th, 1925.  So where did he spend it?

I first checked Koval’s Illustrated Houdini Research Diary:

  • And it doesn’t show him performing during the week of Thanksgiving, but it does show him performing at Parson’s Theatre, in Hartford, Connecticut the week after.


I then checked newspaper and magazine websites:

  • And found a Billboard listing that mentioned that he gave a Thanksgiving performance at the jail while performing in Hartford CT;  “Throw that bird here,” yelled the prisoners when he produced a turkey in one of his numbers.

Finally, I did an internet image search, and found the following image at, where it was identified as a clipping coming from a collection that sold on eBay in February 2012.


So, the answer is he spent it in Providence Rhode Island performing a special matinee of his 3 shows in 1.

H A P P Y  T H A N K S G I V I N G !!!

Houdini Secrets For U.S. Soldiers


Harry Houdini with doughboys (From the collection of Kenneth M. Trombly)

In honor of Veteran’s Day, a public holiday held on the anniversary of the end of World War I (November 11) to honor US veterans and victims of all wars, I thought I would share parts of an article that appeared in the Evening Star February 26, 1918:

Houdini is going to give away some of his secrets for patriotic reasons.  He is going to show American soldiers and sailors just how he extricates himself from the tight fixes that are a feature of the Houdini acts at vaudeville performances.


The demonstrations are to be given to men in uniform during the intermission of “Cheer Up” at the Hippodrome, where a room has been fitted up on the promenade floor.

Officers who wish to make special arrangements to bring groups of men to these demonstrations can arrange to so by telephoning the Hippodrome and making appointments for the intermissions on any desired date.

Houdini has also offered to teach soldiers and sailors how to escape from sinking vessels and has received a letter from the Secretary of War thanking him for the suggestion.

Thank You for serving our country & protecting our freedoms.

Original Halloween Séance covered worldwide, plus Straitjacket Escape

In my last post, I mentioned Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz promoting the movie “Houdini “by introducing it and Dorothy performing one of the best straitjacket straitjacket and handcuff escapes I have ever seen.  Well, one week ago, at the Original Halloween Séance, Dorothy and Dick were at it again.  Enjoy!

And speaking of promotion, the séance got worldwide coverage as evidenced by the following links:


The Guardian’s print edition had an average daily circulation of 189,000 copies. The newspaper’s online edition was the FIFTH most widely read in the world as of October 2014, with over 42.6 million readers.[6] In the UK, its combined print and online editions reach nearly 9 million readers.[7]

NY1 TIME WARNER TV–death.html






Halloween Séance Calls for Harry Houdini at Home
This year’s event on the anniversary of the famed magician’s death will be at the building where he once lived


The annual event to summon Harry Houdini’s spirit this year will be at Sojourn restaurant on the Upper East Side, located in the space where a young Houdini practiced tricks. Above, Houdini performed a rope escape, left, and a card trick in these undated photos. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
It was to be the final escape.
Before Harry Houdini died on Oct. 31, 1926, he asked his wife to hold annual séances—and gave her a secret code so that she could verify his return.
“He said if anyone can come back, he would,” said George Schindler, the 87-year-old dean of the Society of American Magicians, where Houdini served as president for nine years.
This Halloween marks the 90th anniversary of the famed magician’s death, and at least the 90th séance trying to summon his spirit.
The séances are now hosted by the Harry Houdini Museum, based in Scranton, Pa., but this year museum officials selected an out-of-town spot for the event: the Upper East Side building where Houdini once lived.
A young Houdini practiced tricks in the space that is now Sojourn restaurant and lived with his family in the boardinghouse upstairs. Last week, the restaurant erected a plaque to Houdini’s memory.
“He kind of inspired me growing up,” said restaurant owner Sammy Musovic, a magic fan. Neighborhood old-timers had approached him for years about the site’s history, he said, prompting him to research it further and host the séance at the restaurant.

George Schindler, dean of the Society of American Magicians, speaks at Sojourn restaurant on E 79th St. about the séance on the 90th anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death. PHOTO: PETER SAMELSON
Even though he called for a séance, Houdini was skeptical.
“That would be the final test,” said the museum’s co-director Dorothy Dietrich. “He was looking for some kind of proof.”
During his life, he never found any. Houdini scorned the spiritualists of his era as scam artists.
The promise to contact a lost loved one “would be worth anything to anybody,” said Ms. Dietrich, making the grieving particularly vulnerable to swindlers. “Houdini spent pretty much his whole life exposing them where ever he went.”
At the Society of American Magicians, Houdini even founded a “debunking” committee that still exists today, although it has been more than a decade since it received any requests, Mr. Schindler said.
According to Ms. Dietrich, the code he gave his wife was a way of protecting her from being scammed, since nobody else knew it.
Still, the séances, which are free and open to the public, have seen some odd moments, said Ms. Dietrich, who has been leading them for more than 30 years. There was the time when a Houdini picture fell off the wall just as attendees asked for his spirit or when a candelabra started flickering despite no wind or air-conditioning drafts.
This year’s event begins at noon on Monday, just before the time of his death at 1:26 p.m. The code has since been revealed: It combines the words “ Rosa Bell,” a nod to the couple’s favorite ballad, with an encrypted spelling of “believe” that his wife understood.
Mr. Musovic said he was slightly nervous to be hosting a séance in his restaurant.
“The hocus-pocus thing you always got to worry about, you know?” he said. “I don’t want to disappear.”
Story Source: CLICK HERE

Historic 90th Seance’ to be held at site of Houdini’s first New York home

The Historic 90th Houdini Seance at Sojourn Restaurant-The Site of Houdini’s First Home in NY Oct 31, 2016.

It will be headed up by world renowned female escape artist Dorothy Dietrich and Broadway mentalist Marc Salem, and begins at noon, close to the time Houdini died on Halloween.

The Houdini Seances were done by Ms. Dietrich many years at New York’s legendary Magic Towne House. Dietrich is the Director of The Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA, the only building in the world dedicated to 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 not for profit 501 C-3 museum recently received world wide acclaim for replacing the bust of Houdini at his grave that had been destroyed by vandals 41 years ago, at a cost of $10,000, and for discovering and getting restored, by Turner Classic Movies, Houdini’s best and long lost feature film, “The Grim Game.

Also attending will be paranormalist Dick Brookz currently appearing on Travel Channels Mysteries At The Museum, and star of The Houdini Museum’s Haunted-Mysteries of the Beyond, the longest running paranormal and seance show in history. Several original Houdini items will be on display as part of the event, that is free and open to the pubic.  Reservations suggested

The Sojourn Restaurant  is located at 244  East  79 St,  NYC

Each year since his death a tribute in the form of a seance has been conducted on that day. The first ten were done by his wife Bess as a tribute and test, each year after Houdini died. In his effort to challenge the crooked mystics and psychics who claim they can make contact with the dead. He told people to save their money and not be cheated by those who make such claims!  Houdini 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. Gibson was the creator of “The Shadow” one of the most famous mystery series of all time that 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. Gibson also helped Houdini in some of his literary projects, and after Houdini died Gibson wrote several biographies and magic secret books culled from Houdini’s private notes that Bess let Gibson use.  Before Mr. Gibson died he passed on the legacy and the tradition of the Houdini Seance to well known magic celebrity, Dorothy Dietrich.


Walter B. Gibson – Dorothy Dietrich – Milbourne Christoper

Dorothy Dietrich has been named “one of the most noted magicians of the late 20th century” by Columbia Encyclopedia.  Dorothy Dietrich is one of the world’s best known magicians and has also 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,, 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. The Houdini Museum has the largest display to the general public, anywhere, of artifacts, historical displays and information on Houdini. She is considered a leading expert and collector on Houdini. She has been featured on numerous television shows and channels world wide including the BBC, CBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, The Travel Channel, Biography Channel, History Channel, TV Land, “Mysteries at the Museum”, etc.


Marc Salem came to international prominence when he was featured on 60 Minutes by Mike Wallace and amazed Wallace and viewers around the world. He also had a feature story in the New York Times. His show MIND GAMES concluded two extended runs on BROADWAY to both critical and popular acclaim. The Sydney Opera House, the Edinburgh Festival and Singapore’s Esplanade have also hosted his extended runs. He has been featured on the The O’Reilly Factor, Montel, Maury, CNN, and is a regular guest on Court TV, and has had two network television specials. Salem was last on the New York stage with his show Mind over Manhattan in 2012, and, most recently, concluded a three month run in Chicago with his show Mind over Chicago.  He recently completed five sell out seasons in London, along with many theatres from Montreal to Capetown.  Marc Salem’s all new show “Haunted Mind” will play a special Halloween night event at The Gramercy Theatre at 127 E. 23rd Street in Manhattan onOctober 31st at 7pm. For more info, go to

During the Fall and Winter months The Houdini Museum is open weekends for tours and a magic show, as well as being available any day of the week for school and bus groups, and magical parties.
For pictures and more information go to:
Houdini Seance web page

For more information or to RSVP contact Penny Wilkes at
The Houdini Museum
1433 N. Main Ave, Scranton, PA 18447
(570) 383-1821 or (570) 342-5555.