Thought I would start the New Year off with a two-part post where I share text from an incredible November 1933 New York Evening Journal article that goes down memory lane with Hardeen, Magician and Handcuff King:
Our father, M. S. Weiss, L.L. D., Ph. D. arrived in that Wisconsin town a graduate lawyer. The town had no need of a lawyer but Mayor Hammel told my dad they needed a rabbi. My father said, “Okay, that’s me,” and became a rabbi of a temple over a harness shop opposite the old Kirby House.
My brother, Houdini, born Harry Weiss a year later, and I studied at the Brown School – so called because it was painted green. Our first escapes were from here.
Later with Houdini in Milwaukee. He sold papers at the Plankington House corner, supplemented by shoe shining. We played cops and robbers with Charles Harris (who later wrote “After the Ball”) when he carried groceries at $3 per for General Storekeeper Simon.
After Houdini had saved $10 our elder brother died, and Harry gave his savings for the funeral. He always was giving. He then studied acrobatics, making me become a contortionist – we trekked to N.Y.
Stopping on 79th st. with Mrs. Leffler, mother of George and John, but don’t tell these managers that we still owe “Ma” for room rent. During the first Winter, experiencing the Great Blizzard of 1888 and receiving much food from Mrs. Leffler, and studying at P.S. 70
Harry, battling life, became the Boy Magician and gave his first show at the Pastime A.C. on E. 69th st to an audience including the walker, Sam Liebgold, Half Miler Gage Hollander, All-Around Athlete Jimmy Rose and Wrestler Bothner.
Saved $26 in Citizens Savings Bank at Bowery and Canal while working for James G. Johnson & Co., only to give it to brother Harry for partnership in act called the Houdini Brothers. We played museums all over the country. Kohn and Middleton in Chicago, Moor’s in Detroit and Rochester, and Brandenberg’s Philadelphia.
New York saw us in in those days at Worth’s on Sixth ave, the Globe on the Bowery, Hubers, and the Gayety for Dave Posner.
Opened a bill at the Krauss Imperial Music Hall, appearing with Weber, and Fields, Topack and Steel, Lizzie B. Raymond, and Joe Flynn, who wrote “Down Went McGinty”
Next to Coney Island, only to be fired from Vacca’s on the Bowery and Buschman’s Walk Customers too interested in us to buy beer, but Ed Rogers, the Smilaz Sisters, and Ferry, the Frog Man, kept on.
With the Christi Brothers for a whole season in a big shadow pantomime at “Coney’s Sea Beach Palace” … What a beautiful dump?
Then came Bess! She broke up the act when Harry married her because we did not get enough money for all three. My most solemn moment was the night Harry made his bride swear never to reveal his Trunk Trick (his most copied stunt) which incidentally, I still do.
To be continued next week…