An Amazing Magical Work of Art

The following amazing magical work of art that was estimated to sell between $1,200/$1,500 just sold yesterday at Potter & Potter Auctions for the starting bid of $600.00.  Congratulations to the winner.  BTW, I was the winner.

Houdini Grim Game Limited Edition 1 of 10

366. Houdini, Harry. Grim Game Dimensional Giclée Print. American, 2006. By Dave Avanzino. Number 1 from a signed and numbered edition of 10. Recreating a three-dimensional version of the color lithograph advertising Houdini’s silent film, The Grim Game. Handsomely framed to an overall size of 18 ¼ x 24 ¼”. Signed and numbered by the artist. Fine condition.

This artwork originally debuted at the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History in November of 2007 with remaining pieces offered to the rest of the magic community via ads in magic magazines like Genii (e.g., Vol 71 Issue 3 and 5). The listing price in the ads was $1200 each.

Mixed Media and famed Disney Artist David Avanzino used this beautiful rich piece to create a unique dimensional scene where the characters seem to come alive and float in space.  Each element has been hand cut by the artist and, after painting the edges of each piece, he assembled them in a shadow box of amazing dimensionality.

The classic poster image was reproduced from the library of Nielson Magic Posters with their permission.  All of their posters are scanned directly on 1:1 proportion from the original.

Houdini in “The Grim Game” – aka Houdini Believes in Reincarnation (Ad 4 of 4)

Yesterday, I posted ad 3 of 4 from page 5 of a local newspaper in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Here is ad number 4:

Fort Wayne Indiana 19 Oct 1919 Ad 4Double-click image above to enlarge for easier reading..

For More Information on Houdini’s beliefs in reincarnation, I recommend the following:

4 Days Starting Today – Something New Under the Sun (Ad 1 of 4)

On this day, October 19, 1919, The Grim Game appeared at the Strand in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fort Wayne Indiana 19 Oct 1919 Ad 1

This is just one of 4 ads that appeared on page 5 of the local newspaper Ninety Four Years ago.

I will share the rest of the ads in the coming days. Below are the titles for each day:

  • 4 Days Starting Today – Something New Under the Sun (Ad 1 of 4)
  • Many Film Thrills at the Strand – Houdini in the Grim Game (Ad 2 of 4)
  • A Rhyme Dedicated to Houdini the Wonder Man – The Grim Game Houdini (Ad 3 of 4)
  • Houdini in “The Grim Game” – aka Houdini Believes in Reincarnation (Ad 4 of 4)

That was my idea!

GG Upside Down StraitJacketIn January 1921, Houdini’s full length film, The Grim Game, was playing at the Cinema House in Fargate, Sheffield and being watched by the man who helped Houdini.

In The Grim Game, Houdini does an upside down strait jacket escape, a big screen showing of the escape that had first been done in a small attic a couple miles away in June of 1914.

Wait, a minute, I thought, Houdini’s first suspended strait jacket escape was in Kansas City on September 8, 1915.  You see, it was in June of 1914, that Houdini was introduced to the idea of the suspended strait jacket escape:

Houdini pushed open the little gate to the house at Carrington Road.  Houdini was curious to see what his friend and fellow escapologist had come up with now.  Up in the attic, Houdini noticed a rope attached to a winch on the wall, and also to a beam in the high, gable ceiling.  What happened next would change the course of history. Houdini placed his friend in a straitjacket and helped haul him up in the air, until he was dangling from the beam. Then as the bemused Houdini watched, his friend proceeded to shed the straitjacket.

It was a simple idea, a type of escape Houdini was known for, but with a whole new twist, literally, as this time the action was done upside down, with the body bending upwards to release itself.  Houdini was impressed.  It was just what he needed – a new way to gather a large crowd – and out in the open it would be spectacular.  [Snippets from The man who helped Houdini by Ann Beedham]

It would be over a year before Houdini would perform this feat in Kansas City on September 8, 1915.

I can definitely picture Houdini’s friend watching The Grim Game in 1921 and imagining himself in Houdini’s role as he did so many times as a boy, and shouting to the fellow cinemagoers – that was my idea!

Sheffield Empire March 1920 - Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

The man who helped Houdini outside the Sheffield Empire in March 1920 – Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

BTW:  The man who helped Houdini was Randolph Douglas (aka Randini) and there is a lot more to his story.

To learn more, I highly recommend the book: RANDINI – The man who helped Houdini by Ann Beedham

Special Thanks to Narinder Chadda of the UK for making it possible for me to get a copy of the book.

Update: I received an email from Bill Mullins that he found records of Mysterio performing the stunt hanging by his feet in Buffalo in June 1913, in Gloversville in Aug 1913, again in Buffalo in Nov 1913, in Yonkers in Dec 1913 (indoors, but still suspended over the stage), and in Saratoga in Jun 1914.

Of course, I was intrigued by this, and looked him up.

Al Pitroff was an escape artist who worked under various names: “Great Pitroff”, “Great Alvin”, “Mysterio”, “Russian Mystifier” and “Levy”. [Sphinx, October, 1916, page 150].

I also found a record of him performing it at the Hartford Theatre in June 1913: He liberated himself from a straitjacket while suspended in midair by his ankles. This was performed in front of the theatre and drew quite an audience.  [July 1913 The Sphinx, page 89]

And last but not least, I found the following:  It was interesting to learn, when meeting Al Petroff, of New York, that he was the first man ever to do the straight jacket escape while hanging upside down outside a building.  Houdini, for a time, said it was too dangerous because of the head rush of blood, but later Houdini started doing it that way and made it his greatest outdoor publicity stunt.  [Jinx 1936-1937 Winter Extra, page 176]

So did Houdini get the idea from Randolph Douglas or Al Pitroff?

The Kansas City Post Wednesday September 8, 1915

I have finally tracked down and received a copy of the infamous Kansas City Post newspaper that I alluded to in my previous posts:

Below is the proof that Houdini Frees himself of a Straitjacket Suspended Head Downward at the Post on September 8, 1915 in Kansas City.

Kansas City Post Wednesday September 8 1915Special Thanks to the Kansas City Public Library for going back and digging through their archives one last time and locating this elusive article for me to share.