We were searching John Cox’ wonderful website Wild About Harry and found a very interesting article about Houdini’s possible return to film making in 1925 – a year before his untimely passing.
Mr. Cox points out that the nascent film was to be based on Miracle Mongers and their Methods. We consider that book to be a must read for every fan of Houdini and the history of Spiritualism. Fortunately it is no available in the public domain and thus accessible to fans gratis.
We would have paid big money to see the film.
Thank you to Mr. Cox for finding this important piece of history and sharing it with us Houdini fans.
As we know, Houdini stepped away from movie making after he completed The Man From Beyond and Haldane of the Secret Service in 1921. So the idea he’d consider a return in 1925 is pretty interesting. It’s also interesting to see the name of Arthur B. Reeve, who co-wrote The Master Mystery and Houdini’s Hollywood films.In 1923 Houdini told the L.A. Times he planned to adapt his book Miracle Mongers and Their Methods into an “out-and-out stunt picture” following his Keith’s vaudeville tour. This item appeared the Monday after he completed that tour. So could this signal the start of that process?
We also take great pride in our programming abilities and yet we were stumped yesterday trying to load an active graph from Google documenting the past and present searches for Houdini since 2010. We couldn’t go back further; like to 1920 and figured out that we were limited by the reality that Google did not exist in the Roaring Twenties.
So while we don’t have the live data stream for Houdini searches on InsideMagic.com yet, we can report that the term Houdini continues to be searched daily with peaks in the number of searches on special days and weeks around Halloween and the date of his death in 1926.
Why were we trying to construct this real-time search presentation?
First because we thought it was a cool tool to put on our website. We’re always looking to spice up our space.
Second, because we search for news or articles about Houdini daily. Sometimes the searches come back related to a rapper that used Houdini in his name. Sometimes it comes back with a wine bottle opener. Sometimes it comes back with the great Houdini Magic Shop from Disneyland or Las Vegas. But usually there is at least one hit for Houdini, the world-famous magician and escape artist par excellence.
It is amazing that his name, story and images still register on the Google Search metrics.
What a testament to his self-promotion, his place in modern history and his ability to entrance modern audiences even without being present (assuming you disregard claims of connections during seances).
Magicians today still make reference to Houdini in their acts; often comparing themselves to the master performer. The modern audiences have never seen Houdini (other than the Tony Curtis film, perhaps) but the reference still resonates with them.
We tried to think of other performers that have that kind of staying power. In the 1920s the American and European theaters were jammed full of performers and on a typical evening’s bill, there would be a star or top act. Yet, we are at a loss to name any of them unless they later had a career in a more permanent medium like film or radio.
Houdini is what got us heavily into magic and we assume his popularity is having the same effect on a new generation of magicians and escape artists.
What a wonderful art we have.
By the way, if we are ever in doubt about Houdini’s work or history, we refer to the source that knows all, Wild About Houdini, run by John Cox. If you are a Houdini fan, it needs to be your first stop daily for the latest findings and exploration about this incredible legend.
We will continue to work with our crack programming team to get real time search stats on InsideMagic.com but until then, we’ll just report the highlights we find through our searching or from Mr. Cox’ website.
There are two things we cannot get enough of: Harry Houdini and anything related to Harry Houdini.
So, if you have an exhibit that features images of Harry Houdini and takes attendees through the life of Harry Houdini, you win the golden ticket in our book.
Just to be clear, we have neither golden tickets or a book in which to collect said tickets, but we will remember you fondly until the day we pass to join the great card table session in the heavens. We’ll tell Dai Vernon and Ed Marlo about you and your organization and they will both likely teach us moves that will take an eternity to perform – but that will be okay because we will have an eternity to learn.
The Breman Museum (William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum) is based in the Atlanta area (likely within a mile of a street with the word “peach” in it). We see that Inside Magic Favorite Joe Turner is assisting in the presentation so you know it will be without flaw and have integrity.
The museum tells visitors that the world’s most famous magician and escape artist wasn’t born but invented by the talented mind of Erik Weisz (later translated into Erich Weiss when he and his family immigrated to the United States).
The exhibit it curated by magician David London and shares the story of how this immigrant, growing up in Wisconsin became Harry Houdini – the world’s first international superstar.
The Science Channel is set to carry a docuseries titledHoudini’s Last Secrets. The series purports to be an expose of Houdini’s effects by looking at the scientific and engineering allegedly utilized in the effects performed by the great magician.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series will feature not only engineers and scientists but illusionists to “unravel the mystery around the man who caught a speeding bullet, survived live burial and imprisoned himself inside a water tank, spurring celebrity and conspiracy theories. The show will also look into the late magician’s personal life, through authentic scrapbooks, letters and pictures, to piece together his legacy.”
Each of the episodes will seek to discover the secret behind one of Houdini’s effects.
Said Science Channel General Manager “Harry Houdini is the definition of mind-blowing. He was clearly ahead of his time when it came to using engineering to accomplish his stunts, so much so that his methods continue to be debated by today’s master magicians. It’s no wonder that just the name Houdini still stirs the imagination of people, nearly a century after his death.”
Variety reports that the first effect to be explored / exposed will be the Water Torture Cell escape and the other shows will include stunts that we don’t believe Houdini actually performed such as “burning alive” and “catching a bullet.” In fact, we are rather sure Houdini did not perform the bullet catch after receiving advice from Kellar. We defer to John Cox, the Houdini expert, for his recollection.
The best scenario would be that the scientists, illusionists and engineers on the show fail to solve the mysteries and keep the secrets safe but unfortunately, we fear that won’t happen.
The show is set to premiere on the Science Channel on January 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Read The Hollywood Reporter’s exclusive on the show here.
We love Houdini and all things Houdini. So, when we saw the new trailer for Fox Television’s new series Houdini & Doyle, we got giddy – or giddier. We understand Fox purchased ten episodes so far and plans to launch this spring. The trailer looks great even with the obligatory and historically inaccurate axe to the Water Torture Cell scene that has been with us since Tony Curtis.
Fox has launched a webpage to promote the series with some great interviews, pretty pictures and a pithy exposition of the series.
Inspired by true events, HOUDINI & DOYLE draws heavily on the rich history of the period. Two great men of the 20th Century – Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – grudgingly join forces with New Scotland Yard to investigate unsolved and inexplicable crimes with a supernatural slant.
Ironically, “Supernatural Slant” was the name of our dance routine that catapulted us to national prominence in 1979-1980. Some no doubt recall our participation in the syndicated television contest series, “Dance Your Booty.” It was through that show that we learned the important lessons of show business:
Get your money upfront.
Trust no one, ever.
Follow “Dry Clean Only” recommendations – especially for tuxedos.
Stretch before performing.
You can visit the Fox website or for the definitive, straight dope, check out the number one source for all things Houdini, John Cox’ incredible website, Wild About Harry here.
Those in the know consider The Grim Game the best of Houdini’s five feature films but it has not been seen by the public for more than 96 years. Thanks to Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Brookz, the film will be featured as part of the finale of the TCM Film Festival, March 29.
After the Hollywood showing, it will be exhibited at The Directors Guild in New York City and then in Scranton, Pennsylvania – the home of the incredible Houdini Museum. Turner Classic Movies intends to broadcast the film on their cable channel later in the year.
The Hollywood tour will begin on March 24 at 10 AM in front of the Hollywood Heritage Museum at 2100 Highland Ave. The museum was once part of the Famous Players-Lasky Studio where Houdini made The Grim Game. Dorothy Dietrich will perform magic for those in attendance and then she and Mr. Brookz will join John Cox for a private Hollywood tour. Mr. Cox is the host of the most important Houdini website in the universe, Wild About Harry.
The Houdini Museum has the largest and only continuing traveling exhibit on Houdini, “Houdini Road Show,” that has finally all come back from being on display at the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino in West Palm Beach.
Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Dick Brookz are also currently starring in Psychic Theater’s Haunted Seance! The show is the longest running performance of its kind in history – more than 10 years at the Houdini Museum Theater.