NPR Story: Unpublished Houdini Straitjacket Photo

By Tom Interval

Click to Enlarge

Houdini doing the suspended straitjacket escape from the Empire State Building. Click to enlarge. (Photo: Chris Shweie, Noah Sheridan)

This morning, NPR’s Pam Fessler interviewed a gentleman by the name of Chris Shweie, coauthor of The Voice of the City: Vaudeville and Popular Culture in New York and collector of all things vaudeville. Shweie said he recently purchased this unpublished photo from a “celebrity Houdini collector” (David Copperfield?). Yes, that’s Harry Houdini escaping from a straitjacket—suspended from the Empire State Building! In all my years studying Houdini, I’ve neither heard nor read anything about him doing this stunt from the famous skyscraper, the tallest building in the world at the time. You can read the story and hear Shweie talk about acquiring this incredible picture on the NPR website here. I also tracked down the actual story in the New York Post, which you can read here.

Posted in Buildings, Collecting, Ephemera, Escapes, Photoshop Art, Straitjacket | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Houdini: Escaping the Womb 141 Years Ago Today

By Tom Interval

Harry Houdini, ca 1899 (Photo: Library of Congress)

Harry Houdini, ca 1899 (Photo: Library of Congress)

On March 24, 1874, magic’s most legendary entertainer was born: Erik Weisz.

Four years after his birth in Budapest, Erik and his family moved to the United States, where the toddler’s name was Americanized to Ehrich Weiss.

Around 1890, young Ehrich adopted the name Harry Houdini—”Harry,” from “Ehrie” (a family pet name), and “Houdini,” from Ehrich’s childhood hero, French conjurer Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin.

To see pictures of Houdini’s birthplace in Budapest (Rákosárok utca 1. sz., a street now known as Csengery utca), read my March 24, 2014 blog.

To learn more about Houdini, I recommend starting with this biography (probably the most accurate one so far):  Houdini!!!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss, by Kenneth Silverman.

In the mean time, be sure to toast Harry on his special day.

 

 

Posted in Misc | 1 Comment

Houdini Illusion Color-Changing Mug

By Tom Interval

Okay, so you have to check out this mug—one of the coolest out there (see the 1 min. 49 sec. embedded video below). Yes, I’m a bit biased since I’m the one offering it on the Interval Magic CafePress Store. However, I make next to nothing on these since I’m only the designer and not the actual manufacturer or distributor.

Long story longer, people like me who know a thing or two about graphic-design programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator can make original custom designs and upload them to websites such as CafePress or Zazzle, which distribute customized T-shirts, mugs, clocks, mouse pads, and more.

Anyway, my Houdini two-face optical illusion is now available on the very magical color-changing mug featured in the following video. Enjoy! (And while you’re at it, feel free to buy a mug to support creative artists like me. Wink.)

Posted in Art, Mugs, Optical Illusions, Photoshop Art, Products | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday Robert-Houdin: Dec. 6, 1805

By Tom Interval

I meant to post this image on Saturday. On that day 209 years ago, the pioneering French conjurer, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, was born. Robert-Houdin is known as the “father of modern magic” and is the man whose name young Ehrich Weiss would borrow 85 years later to become Harry Houdini.

Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, Father of Modern Magic, Dec. 6, 1805-June 13, 1871

Posted in Anniversaries, Robert-Houdin, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In Memory of Harry Houdini

In Memory of Harry Houdini

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Houdini Jack-o’-Lantern 2014

By Tom Interval

For this year’s Houdini jack-o’-lantern, I wanted to make a scary version of Houdini’s face. It’s not perfect, but I think I’ve accomplished the scary part. Hope you enjoy, and Happy Halloween week (a.k.a., National Magic Week)!

Houdini Jack-o'-Lantern, copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Houdini Jack-o’-Lantern, copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Houdini Jack-o'-Lantern, copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Houdini Jack-o’-Lantern, copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

Copyright 2014 Tom Interval

 

Happy Halloween!

Posted in Art, Halloween, Holidays, Sculptures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Houdini’s Voice Recorded 100 Years Ago Today

By Tom Interval

It was exactly 100 years ago today that Houdini recorded his voice on Edison wax cylinders. This particular version is one I put together a couple of years ago. It’s about 3½ minutes long and is different from the standard version you’ll find online. Although the cylinders were made on October 29, 1914, they weren’t found until 1970. Watch the video for details. Happy Houdini Voice Day!

Posted in Anniversaries, Audio, Multimedia, Videos, Voice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments