The Original Houdini Hall of Fame
Each of the last two Sundays, I did a blog that included different ads for the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame that was located at 4983 Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls Canada from 1972 to April 30th, 1995.
I thought I would wrap up this series with ads from the Houdini Hall of Fame’s original location, which was located at 5019 (aka 1019) Centre Street, Niagara Falls Canada from May 1968 to 1972.
The ad below identifies the original location of the Museum as 5019 Centre Street:
Ad 1 (Front):
Ad 1 (Back):
This next ad identifies the original location of the Museum as 1019 Centre Street as opposed to 5019 Centre Street:
Ad 2 (Front):
Ad 2 (Back):
Hope you enjoyed this series as much as I enjoyed sharing my pictures, ads and personal experience from the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame.
[Joe M. Notaro with Houdini’s Bust at the museum in June 1980]
Last week, I posted a blog about my memories of the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in 1980. It included photos of my visit and a comparison of 1979 and 1980 advertisements for the museum. If we compare the Guide Books from 1979 and 1980, it appears that the Houdini Bust (as well as the Mirror Handcuffs) first showed up on display in 1980, the year that I visited; how lucky was that?
John Cox at Wild About Harry posted the following comment on my blog last week about the photo with me and the Houdini Bust:
- Which bust is that I wonder?
There are assorted discrepancies in the history of the bust(s) as reported by the press, and the confusion is added to by comments made by James Randi in a 2008 interview in which he describes how he and a friend secretly ‘kidnapped’ a Houdini bust, which surely must have been a copy of the Cassidy work (even though Randi says it was by ‘Church’) from the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and made a partial silicone rubber mould from it (only the face, as they did not have enough material) before secretly returning it, and that many copies were made from this mould. Years later, in 1995, the Niagara building was destroyed by fire, and its bust, which was probably a plaster version, presumably destroyed. [Snippet from John Cassidy Houdini Bust Link]
The 1980 Magical Hall of Fame Guide Book states that:
- The Houdini Bust displayed here is provided courtesy of the Radner Collection. The original bust that graced Houdini’s grave in Mackpelah Cemetary was smashed by vandals in April 1975. It has since been replaced by the Society of American Magicians.
A later edition of the Guide Book (date unknown) states that:
- The Bronze Bust of Houdini which oversees the Entrance to the Museum is a second generation cast of the original Bust which dominates the headstone at the Houdini grave site. The original Bust which graced Houdini’s grave in Mackpelah Cemetary in Cypress Hill, Queens, New York was desecrated and smashed by vandals in April of 1975. The Society of American Magicians, of which Houdini was once President have provided a replacement for the vandalized Bust. We are grateful to Mr. Sydney Radner, from whose collection the Museum’s Bust was cast, for making its presence here possible.
So what’s different from the later edition of the guide book than the one from my visit in 1980?
- In 1980, it appears that the Houdini Bust on display (courtesy of the Sid Radner Collection) was most likely made of plaster. At a later date, according to the Guide Book, the Houdini Bust on display appears to now be Bronze (cast from a bust from Sid Radner Collection)
- The front cover is the same, but the back cover of the later edition has Houdini’s Bust and the 1980 version has the portrait of Houdini that he used to mark his books.
- See below for a page by page comparison of the 1980 guidebook and the later edition:
Just recently, my mom came across some pictures of our family visit to the Houdini Hall of Fame in June of 1980. Yes, that is me in the photos above.
I had been looking forward to this visit for over a year. You see, I had written a letter to the museum the year before requesting some information.
The museum sent me some printed material (envelope is postmarked March 22 1979) that included a letter, postcard, brochure and a guide book.
Although my visit was 33 years ago, I still remember it. For me, the highlights were seeing the original mirror handcuffs (before they were unavailable to the public) and the water torture cell (before it burned down), although I don’t have a picture of me with either artifact. The low lights for me, were that the items and displays did not appear to be well cared for; and there was not a museum magic/gift shop as advertised in 1979, although, I did leave with a souvenir poster of the Milk Can.
Below is a page by page comparison of the 1980 Guide Book (from my family visit) with the guide book from the 70’s that the museum sent me the year before.
Below is the brochure from 1980. Feel free to compare it, with the one from 1979 above for some subtle differences: