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

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 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

Coming: Houdini’s Last Week via The Philadelphia Record

91 years ago today, October 22nd, Houdini was struck in stomach in Montreal.

Two days later, on October 24th, Houdini collapses in Detroit and one week later, on October 31st Houdini dies.

Later this week, I will share from my personal collection, Houdini’s last week leading up to his death as reported by The Philadelphia Record Newspaper:

  • Oct 25th – Houdini is near death with acute appendicitis
  • Oct 26th – Physicians despair over condition of Houdini
  • Oct 29th – Harry Houdini Suffers Relapse
  • Oct 30th – Houdini Slightly Better After Second Operation

October 1954 releases (programs) of Houdini

Houdini was first released July 1953 in the United States. In October 1954, “Houdini” starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, was released in Denmark and Austria.

Below is a Danish Program from my personal collection:

Joe M. Notaro Collection

Joe M. Notaro Collection

Joe M. Notaro Collection

Joe M. Notaro Collection

To be continued next week with another program from my collection.


Houdini the Grim Game Glass Movie Slides

Congrats to the winner of this beautiful slide that just sold for $846.99 on eBay:

A similar slide sold for $2,350.00 on 10/11/2015:

Back in the day you could get this slide as part of a set of four for sixty cents:

Image from 1919 Grim Game PressBook

Today that set would cost you a tad bit more. Below are some sale prices/dates and color images of the other three slides from the set that sold at auction:

6/16/2015 $161.00

4/10/2016 $232.00

8/2/2015 $950.00

6/16/2015 $611.00

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.