Lot 120 One Sheet Grim Game Poster

Lot 120 PP June 25

On June 25th, Potter&Potter will be having a Golden Age of Magic Posters the Nielsen Collection auction that will include a beautiful one sheet Grim Game Poster (See Lot 120 Description below).  For more details on other items being offered and a downloadable catalog, you can go to Potter and Potter website: http://www.potterauctions.com/.

The estimate for the Grim Game poster is $40,000/60,000.

Lot 120 Description:

Houdini, Harry (Ehrich Weisz). Houdini In The Grim Game. Cleveland: Morgan Litho., 1919. Iconic one-sheet poster for this silent film presented by Jesse Lasky, and featuring the world’s most famous magician and escape artist, pictured at the center of the image in a straight jacket and being held back by a group of eight men, including police and hospital attendants. 28 x 41″. Minor restoration at old folds and a few tiny chips. A-. Scarce. Houdini starred in this stunt and escape-filled film opposite Ann Forrest, who played his fiancée. As Harvey Hanford, Houdini is framed for murder and falsely imprisoned, but escapes his jail cell and pursues the men who framed him and also kidnapped his fiancée. The film concludes with a mid-air collision of two airplanes, which was unplanned at the time of the filming, but was later worked in to the script to utilize footage of the crash, an event that had, until that time, never been captured on film. The movie was directed by Irvin Willat and featured a story by John Grey and Arthur Reeve. Produced by Famous Players-Lasky, it was distributed by Paramount Artcraft Pictures. All posters advertising this film are scarce and desireable, as they combine the allure of the silent film era with the unforgettable and iconic escapes that made Houdini the most famous magician of the century.


  • The one-sheet for Houdini’s The Grim Game sold for $24,000 (including buyer’s premium) with just one bid! It fell well below the estimate.


Mere Man Battles Nature – 300 feet of film is missing


Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 photoWhile filming a moving picture [Terror Island] on Catalina Island in California, he took part in a real-life nautical drama.  A small vessel had been disabled and was in immediate danger of capsizing or smashing into the rocks off Sugar Loaf Point. [The Witch of Lime Street]

Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 snippet 1

In response to the crew’s distress calls, Houdini quickly secured himself to a line and dove into the turbulent waters.  Shielding himself from the surf with a life preserver extended in front of him, he propelled himself with froglike strokes toward the stranded men – who, as if so directed, were waving and yelling for help.  While onshore a crowd in front of the Hotel St. Catherine cheered the star’s effort to save them. [The Witch of Lime Street]

Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 snippet 2

The scene did not unfold as it would have in one of his melodramas.  Exhausted, Houdini was cut on the rocks and battered almost unconscious.  He had to be saved by deep-sea divers.  It took a motor launch nearly forty-five minutes to cut through the waves and reach the party.  Even so, he wondered to himself if he could have pulled off the feat when he was younger. [The Witch of Lime Street]

Catalina Rescue from Tao p153 snippet 3

300 feet of film at 20 fps (75 feet a minute) is 4 minutes of footage.

Where is this footage now?


  • The newspaper photo and snippets are from the November 29th, 1919 Los Angeles Newspaper article reproduced by Patrick Culliton in The Tao of Houdini on page 153.
  • The italicized passages are from page 35 and 36 of The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher.


Houdini became a proselytizer for the Mother’s Day holiday

HRC Houdini Mother Cecilia

Image of Houdini’s Mother Cecilia courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

H A P P Y  M O T H E R ‘ S   D A Y !

Perhaps most bizarrely, but unsurprisingly, Houdini became a proselytizer for the Mother’s Day holiday, which was formally established in 1914. Following tradition, he sent red carnations to all of the living mothers he knew and white carnations for the graves of mothers who had gone. Presumably, his mother’s grave overflowed with the white flower.

The above is a snippet from the following bio that has a lot of interesting information on Houdini and his mother.

Enjoy and don’t forget to wish all the Mom’s you know a Happy Mother’s Day!

HH and Mother

Houdini’s Grand Magical Revue 102 Years Ago


Houdini premiered his “Grand Magical Revue” in British cities through the spring of 1914.  It probably played a dozen times.  Above is an ad from the Library of Congress for a performance that was presented 102 years ago, today at the Palace Theatre, Hull.

Below are brief descriptions for each effect:

  1. The Crystal Casket – Houdini opened the show by picking a number of coins; he seemed to toss them toward the box that was suspended by two ribbons over the stage.
  2. Good-Bye Winter – Houdini’s title for Morritt’s disappearance of a person atop a stack of tables.
  3. Money for Nothing – Houdini’s version of the classic coin-catching routine, where he would produce five hundred gold sovereigns from a cloth bag, .
  4. The Arrival of Summer – Morritt’s production of a lady from a pyramid-shaped box.
  5. Calico Conjuring –  Houdini cut and burned and then magically restored a long strip of cloth.
  6. Metamorphosis -Houdini closed the show with his popular trunk illusion



  • Hiding The Elephant by Jim Steinmeyer
  • Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss by Kenneth Silverman
  • The Illustrated Houdini Research Diary Part 4: 1911 to 1915 by Frank Koval