Listen to Houdini’s Final Seance (1936)

By Tom Interval

Knickerbocker Hotel, Los Angeles, 1938

Knickerbocker Hotel, Los Angeles, 1938 (Photo: Mushet Photography, Security Pacific National Bank Collection/Los Angeles Public Library)

Long before Harry Houdini died on Halloween (89 years ago this Saturday), he and his wife, Bess, purportedly made a pact that the first to die would try to contact the survivor from “the great beyond,” as some people put it. If contact wasn’t made within 10 years, the pact would be broken.

So for 10 years following the iconic escapologist’s death, Bess held annual seances, the final of which took place on the rooftop of the Knickerbocker Hotel in Los Angeles, October 31, 1936, 8:30 p.m. Predictably, Houdini didn’t materialize. “I do not believe that Houdini can come back to me or to anyone,” said Bess in her closing statements after the seance. “It is now my personal and positive belief that spirit communication, in any form, is impossible.”

She restated this belief many times in the years that followed. On February 4, 1943, she told the Associated Press she was doubtful about any form of life after death. “I would like very much to believe that I was again to see Harry and my mother,” she said. “But I am skeptical. No one has been able to prove there is a hereafter.”* She died exactly one week later.

To listen to the 1936 seance, please visit my Houdini YouTube channel or play the embedded video below.

*Source: Schenectady Gazette, February 5, 1943

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