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Question: I have done a little research today (being the 100th anniversary of Houdini’s New York straight jacket escape event) on the life of Houdini, and came upon contradicting information on an incident in his life. This incident involves his meeting with a Vaudeville manager named Martin Beck. Some sources indicate that Houdini met Beck in Woodstock, IL. A couple of others suggest this meeting took place in St. Paul, MN.
Being from Woodstock, IL, I would prefer to think of this historic event being one of several claims to fame for our local history, which includes brushes with people like Orson Wells, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Geraldine Page, Jessica Biel, and Eugene Debs to name a few. This information would be just one more feather in our local history cap.
Can you explain the discrepancy, if possible, between the two stories?
Hi Terry. Thanks for your question. Houdini did not meet Martin Beck in Woodstock, IL. In March 1899, Houdini performed at Palm Garden in St. Paul, MN. Martin Beck was there, and Beck and Houdini probably met before the performance. Later that month (3/14), Beck sent Houdini the now-famous telegram offering him an Orpheum-circuit gig on March 26 in Beck’s Omaha, NE, theater. Unless you have evidence to the contrary, the source(s) claiming that the two men met in Woodstock is incorrect.
Tom, any idea where the rumor got started Houdini met beck in Woodstock?! Seems like a random bit of info/trivia.
Hi Kirk. The Wikipedia article on Harry Houdini includes that claim, so I suspect many people have cited the article. However, the person who wrote that particular part does not cite any sources. Perhaps he or she got it from the 2013 book by Robert Karman, Stories from Here & There, which reads as follows, “A good thing happened in 1899, when Houdini met up with manager Martin Beck, in Woodstock.” (p. 298). I have no idea where Karman got his information, but it’s simply not true unless Houdini met with Beck in Woodstock on a separate occasion after Beck was already working with him. Every major Houdini biography recounts the story of Houdini and Beck meeting in St. Paul, so, at this point in time, there’s no reason to believe otherwise. If I learn anything different, I’ll post it here. Thanks for your question.
Hi, everyone in New Britain Ct. says that Houdini performed a stunt atop the Andrews building in the 20s. There is even a plaque on the building stating so, problem is there is no new article, photo, nothing except everyone just says so. Is there anyone who can help me prove this so we here in New Britain can celebrate its 100 yr. anniversary? Thanks Dr Rich Lechner New Britain Dental Arts..860 229 8689
Hi Rich. Thanks for your question. I wasn’t aware Houdini ever did a stunt there. Was it a straitjacket escape? I did a few quick searches that yielded nothing, unfortunately, and I couldn’t find any references to Houdini in New Britain in my library. If I should hear anything, I’ll let you know. You might want to ask John Cox of Wild About Harry (http://www.wildabouthoudini.com).
All the Best,
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