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

HOUDINI SEANCE HISTORY
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
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.

The Perilous Escape From the “Spanish Maiden”

To kick off September, thought I would share a Pharmaceutical Calendar Ad from 1977, I recently acquired about The Perilous Escape From the “Spanish Maiden”:

Imagine a man stepping into an upright casket lined with sharp steel spikes and having it firmly shut and padlocked. Houdini escaped from such a device without the slightest injury and without leaving a clue as to how he did it.

The casket, painted with a resemblance of a Spanish maiden, was modeled after an instrument of torture used during the Spanish Inquisition. Spikes lined the interior in such a way that the body was trapped, but not pierced.  It was hinged on one side, and on the other there were padlocks.

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

You gotta love the image of Houdini they used from “The Grim Game”.

Houdini Volare Rare auto brochures

Creative brochures featuring HOUDINI to advertise the 1976 Plymouth Volare Premier Sedan, Coupe, and Wagon.

These vintage ads draw comparisons between the legendary magician and the car.

They also include exposes (not shown) of the Dekolta chair, Sawing a woman in half,

and escaping from a locked safe.

I procured these three brochures earlier this year. Two of them I got from our friend Chuck Romano, who did an excellent post last year (October 7, 1916) on them:

The other one, which I hadn’t seen before, I got as part of a Houdini lot on eBay.

Houdini’s Secret Vault?

During the Final Houdini Séance in 1936, Edward Saint shared the following:

 “He had safes and vaults in his home, and vaults in banks that his lawyers had access to; but one secret, now made public for the first time, is the fact that Houdini had one safety deposit vault in a bank or trust company in the east under some familiar name other than Houdini, and of which the secret location rested only in Houdini’s brain.  In this vault was kept highly secret papers, and into which was always placed a certain glass case of jeweled medals and a diamond question mark pin with a rare pearl drop, a gift from Harry Kellar to Houdini.  The jewel box was always on display in the Houdini home.  But prior to closing the house to go on a vaudeville tour, Houdini always placed this box in the secret vault.  Many things were left untold because of the unexpected death of Houdini in Detroit.  There is a law, a time limit.  Madame Houdini has year by year awaited word that the Federal Government had located or opened the box, long overdue.  Perhaps the vault was rented and paid years in advance.  However, this Secret Vault has never been located to this day.”

OR HAS IT?

Last week, I did a post on Bess Houdini’s infamous note (once thought by her lawyer to only exist in her imagination) found in a box that was a gift (?) to the Harry Ransom Center from a lawyer (?) that had worked on his estate so many years ago.  Did the contents of this box come from the Secret Vault?  Well, according to Saint, Houdini had multiple vaults, but the Secret Vault (revealed by Saint 10 years after Houdini died?) was under a familiar but different name and its location only known by Houdini. We know, Bess stored her infamous note that spells out exactly how Houdini would communicate from beyond the grave if he could, in a safety deposit box that was not a secret.

FWIW: A man from Providence (who claims he is the reincarnation of Houdini?), believes Houdini had entrusted the crystal box to the Eddy’s (who were employees and friends of Houdini) during his final tour, and it had been in their family since.  Jim Dyer is the caretaker of the family legacy and publisher for his grandparents through his company, Fenham Publishing.  When asked if he has the treasure box, Dyer said that Houdini trusted his grandfather and that Dyer sees his role as maintaining that trust. “My family has a lot of Houdini things, letters and assorted Houdini things, “Dyer said.” “I’m hesitant to tell anybody what the family has.”  Aware of the lengths to which Houdini and Lovecraft fans will go, he added: “We have them in a safe spot (Secret Vault?)”

[Excerpts from Taughton Daily Gazette article “Houdini’s spirit ‘led’ him to treasure box” by Donita Naylor Oct 31, 2016]

Unfortunately, we have more questions (????) than answers.  This includes where is the diamond question mark pin with a rare pearl drop, a gift from Harry Kellar to Houdini.

WRT the Secret Vault, I will leave you with this thought:

  • If I were a lawyer, I would say that the Secret Vault only existed in Ed Saints imagination.

Thoughts?

Bess Houdini’s infamous note in the safety deposit box

According to Houdini’s Lawyer, the infamous note that spells out exactly how Houdini would communicate from beyond the grave if he could “only existed in Bessie’s imagination”.

Well, thanks to a discovery by Gregory Curtis at the Harry Ransom Center, we know there is a note that was handwritten by Houdini’s widow. The front reads as follows:

This message was written by Beatrice Houdini – the original one written in 1913 having been destroyed – the name Rosabelle was substituted – the first name chosen was Mike – both names were enduring names.  Rosabelle is the title song, the first Houdini heard me sing in 1894. Rosabelle – answer-tell-pray answer-look-tell-answer answer – answer.

Along with the note was an envelope from the Manufacturer’s Safe Deposit Company, then on 5th Avenue in New York.  Written in ink on the envelope, in an unidentified person’s handwriting, is “Box 872 Key.”  In pencil, in Beatrice’s handwriting, we find the words “In name of Beatrice Houdini.”  One must assume, therefore, the envelope contained the key to Box 872, which was rented under Beatrice’s name and the Box 872 contained Beatrice’s note.

[August 2011 Magic Magazine – Believing in Rosabelle by Gregory Curtis]

Prior to this discovery, there was no evidence that the note existed or was there?

According to Kalush:

On January 4, the day before the final Ford sitting where Houdini’s code came through in its entirety, Bernard Ernst, Houdini’s longtime lawyer and confidant, was summoned to Bess’s house…

She told him that the code was in the safe deposit box of the Houdini Estate at Manufacturers Safe Deposit Company.  When the lawyer informed her that he had inventoried what was in the box and that there was no secret code from Houdini, Bess neglected to tell him that she had placed the code in the box in November, using, it was later discovered, an envelope that had been manufactured after Houdini had died.

[Note: She held one key to the box, and Bernard Ernst held the other]

According to Houdini Unmasked:

While newspapers were hailing this phenomena, Mrs. Houdini accompanied by those who had attended the séance at her home, rode to 5th Avenue Branch of the Manufacturers’ Trust Co., and withdrew a sealed envelope that had been locked in the Houdini vault.

Before the witnesses, she broke the seal and laid the papers on a desk before them.  The words were identical with those given by Fletcher while Arthur Ford was in trance! Even the request that Mrs. Houdini remove her ring and sing “Rosabelle” had been set down as a part of the test.

According to the December 1954 Mystic Magazine:

She replied, “Of course I knew the code message but I had no idea of what combination of words Harry would use; and when he sent the ‘believe’ it was a surprise.”  Before she could check the message that came through Ford she had to go to the Manufacturers Trust Company in New York and, in the presence of reputable witnesses, obtain the envelope containing the code message, and open it.

Bottom line: the infamous note (code message) written and placed in a Safety Deposit Box by Bess after Houdini died does exist.

That said, I believe Houdini’s lawyer decided it was best if it only existed in Bess’s imagination.