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Harley Newman
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OK, got home, having been away, as frequently happens in this business. Checked some references. Kevin and I were both wrong. We both went long, on our estimates of H's final tour length. Kevin said a couple of years. I said 6 weeks.

H opened his 3 part show on Broadway for the Christmas 1925 season. It was the first time he added an hour of "classic magic" to his performance. Oh, what a surprise, the show was called "Houdini". The magical portion of it got mixed reviews from the press.

Of the four folks I've talked with, who saw it, all said the magic was slow, awkward, boring. All of them were members of the general public, not magicians, not press. I found it amazing that, at advanced ages, they still recalled the show in some detail. All are now deceased. None were friends or relatives of mine, and I had no agenda in asking them about it. I was just curious.

He did a couple of brief runs as a followup. In mid-September of 1926, he took the show on the road. It consisted of three acts...magic, his classic routines, and spiritualist exposure. The tour was supposed to last five months. Again, the classic magic was the dead part of the show. The rest was much stronger.

He played Worcester Mass, Providence RI, Albany NY, Schenectady NY, Montreal Que, and Detroit. In Albany, he re-broke his left ankle, injured about 8 months previously, in the Water Torture Cell. The punching incident occurred on Oct 22 in Montreal. He opened in Detroit on Oct 24, went into the hospital on Oct 25, and died on Oct 31. So really, the tour was only five weeks long.

Prior to that tour, he was busy exposing spiritualists and lecturing, his focus for several years. He also did the famous underwater buried alive, in the summer of '26.

Was he different from today's stunt man? Hard to say. We weren't there. Our comparison is based on insufficient information. He didn't do the heavy-duty "challenges" every day, probably not even every week. Most of his challenges were fairly standard routines for him. He pretty much did a day-in and day-out show, like most of us who do it now. Did it involve wear and tear on him? Sure. No difference there.

His tours weren't as frantic as those we have today. He tended to go somewhere, and be there for a week or two. Now, most of us don't have that kind of luxury. And we don't have the train to get us from point A to point B. We drive. Or fly. Each has its own stress.

I did come across one historical note, I hadn't connected before. The congressman who invited H to testify in Washington, was Sol Bloom. Sol was the guy who created the first modern mass-advertising campaign. He'd been brought into the 1893 Colombian Exposition, to manage the Midway (where H also appeared, although as a bit player). That fair was a transformative point in US history, providing a changeover from agrarian to industrial culture. It established the basis for contemporary entertainment. And Frank Lloyd Wright's boss said it set back American architecture by 75 years.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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Kevin Connolly
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Not beat a dead horse, but it's the long term, cumulative effects from his touring and escape work had the wear and tear on Houdini. Unless he wrote the comments in his diaries just for the jollies. Not to mention that he had/may have had monkey gonads grafted to him to reverse the years of damage caused by the escapes.

I won't pick out anymore of your errors or omissions when your staements were disproved.

No one is perfect.
Please visit my website.
www.houdinihimself.com

Always looking buy or trade for original Houdini, Hardeen and escape artist items. I'm interested in books, pitchbooks and ephemera. Email [email]hhoudini@optonline.net[/email]
Joe Marotta
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I don’t know many details about H, but I DO know about the appendix. It’s not a vestigial organ as some claim. It is in fact an important organ. The appendix actually contains a high concentration of lymphoid follicles. These are highly specialized structures which are a part of the immune system.

“The mucosa and submucosa of the appendix are dominated by lymphoid nodules, and its primary function is as an organ of the lymphatic system.” (Frederic H. Martini, Ph.D., Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, p. 916).

I didn’t want to get off topic but wanted to set the record straight on the appendix. I have one, it works, and I’m going to keep it. I’ve become very fond of it!

Joe
Harley Newman
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Kevin, I don't pretend to be perfect. And I'm sometimes wrong. We have several discussions going here, under one topical heading. One, is about Houdini, fact and fiction. One, is about stunts. One, is about your personality, and mine. Let's be clear.

If you notice, I do not say that stunts don't have long-term effects. Ever. Nor would I suggest that H didn't have injuries, and long-term difficulty with them healing. This is documented. It's also, for me, borne out by personal experience. I've been making a living doing stunts and escapes, for a long time.

BTW, I said that underwater is easier on the ankles, not that it was easy. It's work. Bodies in water have bouyancy, remember? And also, been there, done that.

As for disproving my historical statements, most of the information is in the Silverman book, which is a lot more accurate than any of the pulp fiction bios that have been at the core of Houdini-worship, each one building on the story of its predecessor. Houdini is obviously your hero. That's fine. He's not mine. We differ in opinion.

I don't suggest that he wasn't a complex man. He was. I don't suggest that he wasn't a great EA. He was. I admire his stunt-work, and his PR abilities were beyond compare, for his time. Do I think he was a good person? No. Was he a great magician? Only in the sense that escapes are considered a branch of magic. Those are opinions.

Unfortunately, we have no film of his magic, on which to base further opinions. We have only box office records, and recounted memories of people who are now gone. His escape films, well, lackluster.

A problem in discussing somebody like H, is that he spread so much fiction about himself, as part of his ongoing PR campaign. It's often difficult to separate fact from fiction, and H was a master at PR. His name was a fiction. (Don't forget that he partnered with Jacob Hymen, as the Brothers Houdini, and later went after the guy, for using the stage name. Some friend.) His fiction was more important to him than mere facts.

Fact and fiction are both subject to being revised. Books can take a lot of sides. We all choose what we read, and which books we believe. Often, if somebody writes a history book, they get accused of being revisionist, when all they did was find new or more complete sources. For me, if the "history" gets in the way of facts (or what I consider to be facts, since personal judgement is always involved), I'll throw out the history. If an opinion is not supported by the facts, I'm happy to throw out the opinion. I spend a lot of time researching things. I like primary sources a lot. Most Houdini stuff is secondary source.

You mention that you don't want to put your disagreement with Bill Rauscher in the way of your knowing him. I've only met him once, and we had a good talk. I like the guy. "Houdini Code Mystery" seems to me, to be well-documented. He constantly references his sources. The story that emerges, doesn't fit the Houdini hero-worship that so many magicians demand.

Kevin, you and I have never met, or if we have, I apologize for not recalling it. One of my shortcomings, is not easily connecting names and faces. I can tell that you collect and deal in memorabilia. Do you also perform?

And I'm curious, the monkey gonad story sounds vaguely familiar. What's the source?
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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Kondini
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Sorry to butt in here, but a quote made by David Deval many years ago could sum up a lot of what Houdini was all about >>>>>> Houdini became the product of his own imagination !! >>>>>>

Regarding the wear and tare from constant performance and a comparison of then to now,,,,, working the shows and fairs in the UK,,,you not only set and strike, do your own publicity, carry out your own repairs and running repairs, have to have savvey re electrics and mechanics, start your performances between 10am and noon, work through till midnight doing two sometimes three spots an hour,,the gaffer is reluctant to allow you time off to take a pee let alone eat and drink,,,so with all the help around Houdini at that time I feel he got a pretty good deal.

Yes it hurts sometimes, yes it takes a toll on your health but proberly no more than the work of a navvy does on them.

Ken
Joe Marotta
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I'm curious, as many times as H performed, and as much PR work as he did, you would think someone, somewhere, would have filmed one of his magic performances.

Has no one ever recorded his magic performances for posterity?
Stuart Burrell
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Drat Joe! I spent a long time looking up all the Appendix information (and before anyone makes a joke no it was not in a supplementary addition to the main work located in the back of the book)and you go and post it before me...

...as for the films, the only escapes I am aware of that were filmed were the bridge jumps he showed at Theatres and the ones from his movies (such as The Master Mystery).

If anyone else knows more, please feel free to share. Also if any of the old serials are available (DVD, VHS) then please point me in their direction.
Steve_Mollett
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There was footage of a suspended straitjacket escape in France.

In other media, we have a recording of a radio broadcast of Houdini describing his Water Torture Cell.
Author of: GARROTE ESCAPES
The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.
- Albert Camus
fireperformer911
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Here is footage of the 100' rope escape. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbvZZsYZmEY

This clip shows what a showman he was because anyone who has done 100' rope challange knows the challege most times in not to escape but to make it look difficult.
1200handcuffs
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Houdini must've done something right to take up so much space on this forum. I wonder how many of us will have our name synonomouus with escapology or anything else, or be talked about on a forum 80 years from now.
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dave_matkin
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Quote:
On 2007-11-28 00:21, Kondini wrote:

I have it on great authority that he was sent here from the planet Zogg,,, I am at present writing this factual story which will be sold at the Crop Circle Café in Avebury,,release date April 1st 2008.

Ken


Like you know anything of crop circles! Smile
dave_matkin
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Quote:
On 2007-11-28 11:28, Harley Newman wrote:

The appendix, as a vestigial organ, has little function except to get infected, perhaps when some piece of undigested food gets stuck in the corner of the cecum, off which it hangs.

If H had had the infection 10 years later, penicillin would have just been discovered, and he might have lived. As it was, the most effective antibiotic was echinacea, which has some value, but not much.

The job of the Secret Service is to protect the US president, and it's been around for a long time. CIA was created from the OSS, after WW2, and is about international espionage.

Maybe one of these days I'll tell some of the stories. For now, they're not mine to tell.


Quote:
I don’t know many details about H, but I DO know about the appendix. It’s not a vestigial organ as some claim. It is in fact an important organ. The appendix actually contains a high concentration of lymphoid follicles. These are highly specialized structures which are a part of the immune system.

“The mucosa and submucosa of the appendix are dominated by lymphoid nodules, and its primary function is as an organ of the lymphatic system.” (Frederic H. Martini, Ph.D., Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology, p. 916).

I didn’t want to get off topic but wanted to set the record straight on the appendix. I have one, it works, and I’m going to keep it. I’ve become very fond of it!

Joe



*** Joe beat me to it! I am a Biology graduate and I knew this too ..........

Ok so the fact that I heard it this week on QI (a TV quiz show) is irrelevant I never did like human anatomy at uni ....... I much proffered digging round in peoples faeces and looking for bacteria!
Harley Newman
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Aaah, copromancy!

I thought that died out a few hundred years ago. Or should I say, was let go.
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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Stuart Burrell
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Quote:
On 2007-12-02 04:45, dave_matkin wrote:

*** Joe beat me to it! I am a Biology graduate and I knew this too ..........

Ok so the fact that I heard it this week on QI (a TV quiz show) is irrelevant I never did like human anatomy at uni ....... I much proffered digging round in peoples faeces and looking for bacteria!


Great post Dave, forgive me if I do not shake your hand though.
dave_matkin
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I never did wear gloves in the faecs lab .....
Joe Marotta
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Oh this thread has taken a sad turn............
Dave, didn't you read the sign? All Employees and Guests MUST wash their hands before posting on this board. So please go wash your hands AND keyboard. Smile
dave_matkin
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I will go do that now .........


:?@A^SH:W:A::QWQ_(*(*(A*)(()*__ >>>>><<< !("("*£*$ ("("(("

don't THINK IT LIKES WATER.
Tod Todson
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The "Houdini Code Mystery" book above seems to have both adherents and detractors.

Here is Jamy Ian Swiss not liking it:
http://www.jamyianswiss.com/fm/works/houdini.html

And others claiming it's honest value:
http://www.mysticlightpress.com/index.php?page_id=56
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