The New York Times broke the sad news of Sidney Radner’s passing today. He was 91.
We considered a few people pillars of our Magic Reality. Sidney Radner, Martin Gardner, Harry Blackstone, Jr., and David Copperfield. We could not imagine magic without these four fixtures in our worldview of this wonderful art.
Mr. Radner thoroughly in loved Magic and literally held the key to some of the finest pieces of history from Magic’s Golden Age.
According to his son, William, cancer was the cause of Mr. Radner’s death.
The Times correctly observed Mr. Radner’s unique position in the preservation of magic history.
Mr. Radner is credited in the world of magicians and magic collectors with having preserved some of the most important of Houdini’s props, including the “Chinese Water Torture Cell” (a water tank in which Houdini was lowered upside down, his feet chained) and the oversize “Milk Can” he used in a similar escape stunt.
His collection also included lesser items, but for Houdini buffs equally treasured, like the lock picks Houdini hid from his audiences by swallowing them, then regurgitating them, for escapes; cylinder pulleys, key wrenches, latches, levers and tumblers he used in various tricks; and a set of charred handcuffs from the exhibit that was set up in the theater lobby for his shows, advertised by Houdini as “handcuffs used in Spain on prisoners burning to death in 1600!”
Mr. Radner’s great fortune began when he attended a convention in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1935. It was there that he met Theo Weiss a/k/a Hardeen; Houdini’s kid brother and an fine escape artist in his own right.