Happy Valentine’s Day to all the Ladies

Below are five romantic photos of Houdini with his leading ladies from his movies. Can you guess which movie each is from and who the lady is?

HVD Leading Lady Image 1a

Image 1 – courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

HVD Leading Lady Image 2

Image 2 – courtesy of Wild About Houdini


HVD Leading Lady Image 3

Image 3 – courtesy of Wild About Houdini


HVD Leading Lady Image 4

Image 4 – courtesy of Random Treasures


HVD Leady Lady Image 5

Image 5 – courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

Each correct movie is worth one point and each correct lady is worth another point.

Click here for the answers.

How many did you get correct?

Hopefully you got lucky and scored a perfect 10.

And enjoyed the images and had a Great Valentine’s Day!


Drifting Away From Vaudeville


amazing-under-water-scenesBefore relocating to Hollywood to fulfill a contract with Famous Players-Lasky, Houdini wrote: “I am drifting away from vaudeville, and with the exception of my European dates have no plans re[garding] a return

Scenes-From-Photoplays-30Scenes-From-Photoplays-31Once he had filled these European dates [Sailed Dec 30, 1919 from New York City to Britain] and returned to the United States [July 12, 1920], Houdini stopped performing in theatres for more than a year-and-a-half while attempting to launch his own independent film production company, the Houdini Picture Corporation


  • Magicians and the Magic of Hollywood Cinema during the 1920s by Matthew Solomon
  • The Career of Ehrich Weiss by Kenneth Silverman pages 243, 262-263

The Master Mystery postpones Buried Alive Stunt on Stage

filmdaily Sunday Aug 25 1918 page 4

“The Master Mystery” Film Daily Ad – August 25 1918

Harry Houdini is recovering from injuries received while working in the new Houdini (Rolfe) serial [The Master Mystery] at Yonkers, Houdini bumping against a wall while making an indoor descent in a parachute. His left wrist was fractured and bruises suffered, but the injuries will not prevent him from opening with the Hip show, New York, Aug 22. [Variety Fri August 16 1918 page 6 Vaudeville]

“Everything” opens Thursday August 22, 1918 at the Hippodrome (aka the Hip) in New York.

Buried Alive on Stage PosterHoudini appeared with his left hand bandaged.  He explained that because of an accident in which his wrist was fractured, he could not present his burial trick.  But he escaped from a straight jacket, while hanging head down, at a height near the top of the proscenium.  He must have been in pain, for he never did the escape quicker in public. [Variety Fri August 30, 1918 page 16 Show Reviews]

Houdini felt called upon to apologize for the simple nature of his stunt. [New York Tribune August 23 1918]

Several acts left “Everything” at the Hippodrome Saturday [Nov 2], including Houdini, Reynolds and Donegan, and Gerda Guida, the Danish danseuse. They had been engaged on a ten-week basis with contracts expiring and not renewed.  Houdini had been working under a handicap ever since the opening of the show because of a broken bone in his wrist. [Variety Fri November 8 1918 page 5 Vaudeville]

When Houdini returns to the Hippodrome he promises to present the most sensational act he has ever attempted.  In full view of the audience, lying flat on the floor of the stage itself, he will allow himself to be covered with three tons of sand — dumped on him out of a big automobile truck.  Then he will dig himself up through the pile in less than 60 seconds.  To make it more difficult Houdini will be put in a strait-jacket before the sand is dumped on him.  The date of his reappearance at the Hippodrome will depend on his complete recovery from a recent accident in which he broke his wrist. [Variety Fri November 29 1918 page 7 Vaudeville]

Harry Houdini was in New York Monday [Dec 2] with the plaster cast off his wrist.  He has a ten weeks’ leave from the Hippodrome.  Three of them have been spent by Houdini before the camera [The Master Mystery].  He may play vaudeville during the other seven weeks outside Greater New York, according to permission given by the Hip management. [Variety Fri December 6 1918 page 11]

Buried Alive Poster 1926Buried Alive Stunt on stage is postponed until September 1926.  The escape is finally debuted at the Majestic Theatre in Boston:

  • John Cox blog – Ad shows Houdini performed Buried Alive in 1926
  • Dean Carnegie blog – Episode 3 Additional Information (Includes another 1926 Buried Alive ad)

What’s Wrong with these Pictures?


GG DVD ARTWORKLet’s start with the obvious.  The DVD artwork for both pictures is from a poster from “The Grim Game”.

GG Posters

Now, let’s briefly discuss the two films that Houdini wrote and produced.

The film (“The Man From Beyond”) had its faults, but critics agreed that one scene alone was worth the price of admission.  “It has a whale of a punch,” Variety said. “Houdini does a sensational rescue of the heroine in the Niagara Falls rapids, and it has a kick that would carry any audience”.

Regrettably there was nothing in “Haldane of the Secret Service” to match the Niagara Falls rescue in “The Man From Beyond” or the fantastic escapes of his earliest films (e.g. “The Grim Game”).  He (Houdini) read his reviews with dismay. He compared his cost sheets with his income statements. Sadly, he removed his pending productions from the active file and brought his career as a picture producer to an abrupt finish. [Houdini, The Untold Story by Milbourne Christopher]

Gloria Swanson and Houdini at the Lyric in 1924

1924 Gloria Swanson Actress Toledo Theatre Promo CardRare circa 1924 Toledo Ohio promotional advertising card from the old Lyric Theatre that was located on Broadway Near Western.  This advertising card from the theatre features the Great Silent Movie actress of the era GLORIA SWANSON.    The card measures 3 1/2 in by 5 3/8 in.  The Lyric Theatre has long since been gone from Toledo and any material from it is scarce.

Back of Swanson Promo Card - April 1924 Haldane of Secret ServiceOn the back in April of 1924 they were showing Harry Houdini “The Wizard” in the Movie “HALDANE OF SECRET SERVICE”.   It should read HALDANE OF THE SECRET SERVICE; the word THE is missing on the advertising card.  According to the card, HALDANE was a gripping story of International counterfeiters interwoven with delightful romance, miraculous escapes and endless surprises!

See below for other HHCE blog references to Gloria Swanson and Houdini:

See below for a few Gloria Swanson and Houdini photo references in books:

  • J.C. Cannell – The Secrets of Houdini on page 122
  • Doug Henning – Houdini His Legend and His Magic on page 119
  • Kalush and Sloman – The Secret Life of Houdini Laid Bare on page 222

And last but not least, see below for an amazing photo of Gloria Swanson and Mr. and Mrs. Houdini from the Houdini Album of Jon Oliver:

Jon Oliver Collection

Jon Oliver Collection