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HOUDINI (Harry Weiss)

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Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2007, 09:21:20 pm »



Welcome, Morrison!!!

I am so glad you came to our new Site and that you like the Houdini thread.

I started it because Trent is a Houdini fan and started this whole discussion. So, type
away to your heart's content.  I ran a short Google check and there are all sorts
of opinions on Arthur Ford and Mrs. Houdini.

I am a Spiritualist and have a fairly large library on the subject and it includes the
two volumes by Arthur Ford.  So I decided to transpose them here for Trent.

I have to agree that there are a lot of charlatans out there and there were a lot
more in the "Old Days".  One of these days I'll get into that here.

By the way, did you know that since Mrs. Houdini started it, every October 31st
a seance is held in Niagara Falls, in the hope that Harry Houdini will finally come
through?  NOTHING to date.  It is my suspicion that by this time he may have
 reincarnated.   Let's face it, we have had some awesome magicians in this era.
David Copperfield and Doug Henning (sp?) come to mind.  My children just couldn't
get enough of their shows........

Odd that he died on Halloween night.  Among Pagans and Roman Catholics that's
the night that they believe the 'Veil' is at its thinnest between this world and the
next.....

Love and Peace,
Bianca
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Bianca
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« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2007, 09:33:02 am »

   


                                                                                                           continued



FROM


NOTHING SO STRANGE

The Autobiography of Arthur





Here is the code given by Houdini through Arthur Ford's Guide, Fletcher:


l.  Pray                   A                                 6.  Please                  F

2.  Answer             B                                  7.  Speak                  G

3.  Say                   C                                  8.  Quickly                 H

4. Now                   D                                  9.  Look                    I

5.  Tell                    E                                 10.  Be quick              J





The message itself was:



Answer                              B

Tell                                     E

Pray, answer (1 and 2)       L

Look                                    I

Tell                                       E

Answer, answer (2 and 2)    V

Tell                                        E




The code had been a handy device employed in Houdini's instructions to his
wife during their act.  Mrs. Houdini commented that the code was such a
secret that "even though the stage-hands knew the words, no one except
Houdini and myself knew the cipher, or the key, and its application."
                                         








« Last Edit: March 01, 2007, 08:14:39 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2007, 09:51:29 am »


                                                                                                     continued


                                                                                                                       
Facsimile of statement made by Mrs. Houdini the day after receipt of the
message.  Mrs. Houdini's letterhead, a large diamond shape containing
the letter 'H', is on the upper left.



                                                                                 New York City.
                                                                                          Jan. 9th, 1929.



                                           Regardless of any state-
                            ments made to the contrary,
                            I wish to declare that the
                             message, in its entirety, and in
                             the agreed upon sequence,
                             given to me by Arthur Ford,
                              is the correct message pre-
                              arranged between MR. HOUDINI
                              and myself.


                                                  Beatrice Houdini



WITNESSED:

Harry R. Zander.
Minnie Chester
John W. Stafford -



The witnesses were:

Mr. H.R. Zander - Representative of the United Press
Mrs. Minnie Chester - life-long friend of Mrs. Houdini
Mr. John W. Stafford, Associate Editor of "The Scientific American"




FROM



NOTHING SO STRANGE


The Autobiography of Arthur Ford

In collaboration with
 Marguerite Harmon Bro
« Last Edit: March 01, 2007, 08:22:38 am by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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Morrison
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« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2007, 02:24:09 am »



Welcome, Morrison!!!

I am so glad you came to our new Site and that you like the Houdini thread.

I started it because Trent is a Houdini fan and started this whole discussion. So, type
away to your heart's content.  I ran a short Google check and there are all sorts
of opinions on Arthur Ford and Mrs. Houdini.

I am a Spiritualist and have a fairly large library on the subject and it includes the
two volumes by Arthur Ford.  So I decided to transpose them here for Trent.

I have to agree that there are a lot of charlatans out there and there were a lot
more in the "Old Days".  One of these days I'll get into that here.

By the way, did you know that since Mrs. Houdini started it, every October 31st
a seance is held in Niagara Falls, in the hope that Harry Houdini will finally come
through?  NOTHING to date.  It is my suspicion that by this time he may have
 reincarnated.   Let's face it, we have had some awesome magicians in this era.
David Copperfield and Doug Henning (sp?) come to mind.  My children just couldn't
get enough of their shows........

Odd that he died on Halloween night.  Among Pagans and Roman Catholics that's
the night that they believe the 'Veil' is at its thinnest between this world and the
next.....

Love and Peace,
Bianca

Hi Bianca, yes, I am sure that there are many Houdini fans here. Anyone who isn't a fan simply hasn't heard about him yet. My own fascination with Houdini began when I first saw the Tony Curtis biography on hi back as a child.  The parts where Houdini was trapped beneath the ice and when he couldn't get out of the Water Torture Chamber were especially memorable.

And yet, he wasn't just an escape artist, he appeared in silent films, flew planes, and, by some accounts, was even a spy. 

Where did you get that code from incidentally? 

Morrison
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Bianca
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« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2007, 08:04:09 am »




Morrison:

I remember the movie well.  Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis had just married or
were about to be married.  "Hollywood SweetHearts"!!!  Unfortunalely, like
Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, they didn't last.  But they had two beautiful
daughters, one of whom your generation is well acquainted with, Jamie Lee
Curtis.

This whole retelling of the "Houdini Saga" is from the book NOTHING SO STRANGE,
the autobiography of Arthur Ford.   Thanks for reminding me to put in the credits.

When I am through with the Cayce material, I hope to have more to add to the
Houdini section  by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Love and Peace,
Bianca
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Morrison
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« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2007, 08:35:17 pm »

GHOSTS OF THE PRAIRIE



HISTORY & HAUNTINGS SERIES 2:
INTO THE SHADOWS

America's Unsolved Mysteries & Tales of the Unexplained by Troy Taylor

BOOK EXCERPT

The following is an excerpt from Troy Taylor's Spring 2002 book entitled "Into the Shadows" and is a portion from a lengthy section about the mysteries surrounding the life and death of famous magician Harry Houdini.

Houdini was well-known in the 1920's for his debunking of fraudulent Spiritualist mediums and for his natural explanations for much of the alleged evidence that purported to be paranormal. On at least one occasion though, Houdini found that he didn't have all of the answers![/i]
 




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« Reply #21 on: March 04, 2007, 08:39:29 pm »

Despite the private "death" pact that Houdini had made with his friends, he continued to debunk the mediums in his stage shows and through articles and books, showing how so-called "spirit forms" like "ectoplasm" could easily be created by the clever stage magician. But not all of the things that he witnessed during his psychic investigations was he so sure could be debunked. He kept vast files and records of his investigations and when he died, these reports came into the possession of Joseph Dunninger, Houdiniís friend and fellow conjurer.


In the wealth of material, there was a record of one case that baffled Houdini. His handwritten record of it was contained in the files, dated in Los Angeles on April 11, 1923. He was approached in reference to photographs that were to be taken of Mrs. Mary Fairfield McVickers who, before she died, requested that photographs be taken of her body at 5:00 on the afternoon of her funeral. According to reports, she claimed that she would appear in spirit form at that time. Mrs. McVickers made this unusual pronouncement on the occasion of her 73rd birthday in July 1922. She told her friends at the First Spiritualist Temple of Los Angeles, where she was a member, that she had experienced a vision of her approaching death. "I feel that if a picture is taken over my body about 5:00 pm on the day of my funeral", she told those present at the gathering, "I will be able to appear in spirit form."


Mrs. McVickers died the following April and a friend of the woman, Albert H. Hetzel, contacted Houdini and told him about the request the woman had made for a photograph to be taken of her body. Houdini was intrigued and so he got in touch with a friend and movie producer named Larry Semon about borrowing a camera man.


On the afternoon of the funeral, Nathan B. Moss, who worked for Keystone Press Illustration Service in Hollywood arrived with his camera and plateholders loaded with 14 negatives. Houdini had not told the man what they would be photographing and he and Moss went to a place called Howland and Dewey, Kodak representatives in Los Angeles. Houdini wrote that Moss "had no idea what I wanted but was under the impression that I was going to do a stunt and wanted a stunt picture. I told him that I wanted him to reload his plateholder with brand new plates which I would buy. He, not knowing the importance of the test, derided the fact of my not wanting to use his plates, but I told him that I might have to take an oath that I bought the plates and that therefore it was important."


When they arrived at the camera store, they asked for a dozen 5 x 7 plates and the clerk, Frank Hale, pulled out four packages of 12 each. Mat Korn, a customer in the store and a stranger to Houdini, was standing nearby and he was asked to choose one of the packets. He handed it to the magician, but Houdini noticed that one end of the package was not tightly sealed. He asked for five more packages and he asked another customer, identified as a Mr. Wheeler (a photographer for the Los Angeles Record newspaper), to choose a perfect one for him. Houdini purchased the package of plates and he and Moss entered the darkroom on the premises and removed the plates that Moss had already placed in the camera. He replaced them with the brand new plates, then placed all of the loaded plates into his camera. A few moments later, they left for the church so that they could arrive just before 5:00.


At the church, the body of Mrs. McVickers had been placed in a white, open casket, surrounded by flowers, located at the right of the pulpit. Moss then took 10 photographs of the scene and each of them was taken under the same time exposure of three minutes. In addition to Houdini and Moss, the witnesses included Albert Hetzel, J.M. Hall, Virgil Vlasek and Stanley Bruce of the Los Angeles Examiner.


After the photos were taken, the men left and went immediately to the Keystone Press Illustration office. The plates were immediately developed in Houdiniís presence and on one of the plates, they noticed a peculiar streak. Houdini wrote that "Mr. Moss made a print from this plate which caused a great deal of talk. Not one photographer could explain how this could be tricked. Mr. Moss offered a hundred dollars to anyone who could produce it under the same conditions, whereas no one could duplicate it." Houdini thought enough of this incident to make a note of it in his personal diary as well. "Took pictures at church," he penned. "A peculiar test."

 Dunninger published Houdiniís notes in his brochure Houdiniís Spirit Exposeís in 1928 and stated that Houdini offered a number of magicians $1,000 if they could duplicate the photo. No one accepted the challenge.



The photo at left is a reproduction of the photo taken at the church in April 1923 by Nathan Moss. No explanation has ever been reached as to what the image is that appears in the photo. (From The Mystery of Houdini's Death by Vincent Gaddis- Fate Magazine / August 1963)

The photograph with the mysterious light was the second one taken. The streak was a heavy band of light that started a few inches from the floor and then extended up to about two feet above a five foot high black screen that had been placed between the open casket and the auditorium At the upper end of the streak, the light became a diffused, glowing mass of a larger shape than the trail that descended from it..
 


Looking closely at the streak, it has an interesting formation, starting as a sharply-defined, broad band and then shifting to make two parallel lines. Just before it turned into a glowing mass, a third line starts to appear. A number of photographic experts studied the plate but stated that because of the nature of the image, it would have been practically impossible for it to have been caused by a defective plate, plateholder or camera.


Needless to say, a hoax was out of the question for it would have certainly not helped Houdiniís campaign against fraudulent Spiritualists for him to admit that a "ghost photograph" had been achieved in the church. Even so, he did have the integrity to admit that no satisfactory explanation could be found for the photograph. Joseph Dunninger wrote that Houdini made no attempt to debunk or explain the photograph. "He did not see the light. It made itself only evident on the photograph," said Dunninger. "This report shows that Houdini was willing to believe if the proof was brought before him... and was willing to give credit whenever credit was due."

© Copyright 2002 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.prairieghosts.com/shadows_ex.html

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« Reply #22 on: March 04, 2007, 08:43:21 pm »

The Haunted Museum -

CONAN DOYLE & Houdini
- A HAUNTED FRIENDSHIP -
 

 


"I will present a feat which has, since the dawn of history, been considered an absolute impossibility," announced the man dramatically. He captured the attention of the audience, even though he was well under average height, was powerful without being bulky, bushy-haired and a little bow-legged. The man had a sharp-featured, yet handsome face and intense blue eyes. These eyes seemed to be alive with fire as they danced across the gathered and breathless crowd. He continued to speak in manner that was guaranteed to send chills down the spines of the most veteran student of magic.

"I shall endeavor to walk through a solid brick wall!"

And Harry Houdini did just that -- or at least he seemed to. The wall was made from solid brick, built on a foot-wide steel beam by a squad of brick layers before the eyes of the audience. Over a large carpet in the center of the stage was spread a seamless sheet of cloth. Members of a committee that had been assembled from the audience stood along its edges. Screens were placed on either side of the wall and the magician stepped behind one of them. They could hear his voice from the screen. "I'm going...", he cried. "I'm going ... I'm gone!" Then, much quieter, came his voice from the other side. "Here I am!"

He stepped out to greet an audience that was at first stunned into silence. There was, everyone could see, no connection by a tunnel under the wall. The carpet and canvas made that impossible. There was no way around the wall for the committee could see both ends. He did not go over the barrier -- so how then, could a man walk through a solid brick wall??

Of course, like all of Houdini's fabulous stunts and escapes, it was a clever illusion that was created by hard work, skill and ingenuity -- but many did not see it this way. In fact, Spiritualists believed that was using supernatural powers to escape from his seemingly inescapable traps. But was he really? Many were convinced that he was, including one man who was one of the leading Spiritualists in the world. His name was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Conan Doyle and Houdini first met in 1920, during the magician's tour of England.  The two of them became good friends, despite their opposing views on the supernatural. Houdini was delighted to learn that there was at least one intelligent person who believed in Spiritualism and found that man in his friend Conan Doyle. The author was convinced of the value of the movement to the world and had given up most of his lucrative writing career to lecture about Spiritualism around the world. He also found that Houdiniís knowledge of the spirit world was as vast as his own, although their attitudes differed.

Doyle agreed with some of Houdini's methods in exposing fraudulent mediums because he believed that their existence damaged the legitimacy of the movement. Lacking his new friend's magical training though, he was less able to see how fraud was accomplished. Houdini worked to try and show the secrets practiced by the fraudulent mediums to Doyle but the author merely insisted that the mediums he knew were good and honest people who would never try and trick or cheat their followers. Besides that, Doyle stated, just because the feats of the spirits could be duplicated did not mean that they were not real. Just because Houdini could prove that fraud was possible was not enough to convince Doyle that it actually occurred.

 

Conan Doyle & Houdini
 
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« Reply #23 on: March 04, 2007, 08:44:24 pm »

The two men's arguments were long and inconclusive, but good natured. Neither convinced the other to his respective point of view but both of them found their own interest stirred by their meeting and the lengthy correspondences that followed. It would be a series of strange events over the next two years that would bring this unusual friendship to an end and the rift between then started when Doyle began to publicly take the side of Spiritualists who believed that Houdini accomplished some of his greatest magic using supernatural powers. Houdini had long been working to expose fraudulent mediums in private, in print and during his stage shows, which made him a much-hated figure in Spiritualist circles. Some believed they had an explanation for this -- they stated that  Houdiniís exposure of mediums was simply to cover the fact that he was a medium himself! They claimed that many of his extraordinary escapes were actually done by Houdini "dematerializing" from the traps that he had placed himself in. "This ability", Doyle stated publicly, "to unbolt locked doors is undoubtedly due to Houdiniís mediumistic powers and not to any normal operation of the lock. The effort necessary to shoot a bolt from within a lock is drawn from Houdini the medium, but it must not be thought that this is the only means by which he can escape from his prison. For at times, his body can be... dematerialized and withdrawn."

Now, Houdini was placed in the classic magicianís "catch" position, meaning that he could only go so far in denying the Spiritualist claims. By going any further than he had, he would have to expose how his escapes were accomplished, which he could never do. His reply was simply that all of his escapes were managed by purely physical means. He stated that his crusade against Spiritualism was simply a way to protect the general public from charlatans but he, however, was able to keep an open mind on the subject and did not assume that all mediums were frauds.

Spiritualist leaders declared that Houdiniís actions did not agree with his words and so the magician made a pact with a number of friends. The pact promised that whichever of them died first, he should make every attempt to contact the others by way of a secret code. But Houdini still could not escape the claims being made by Doyle, so he devised a plan to make the author realize that all of his tricks were just that -- tricks. He assured Doyle that he would give him proof that magic was accomplished through simple trickery.

Three persons were present at the test, Houdini, Doyle and Bernard Ernst, the president of the American Society of Magicians. A slate was hung in the center of the room by Doyle and he was given five, plain cork balls to examine. He chose one of the balls at random and placed it in a container of white paint. Doyle was then given a piece of paper and was told to walk anywhere that he wanted to and then write a message on the paper. Doyle left the house, walked three blocks away and then turned a corner. He shielded the paper with his hand and wrote down a short message. Meanwhile, Ernst stayed in the room with Houdini to insure that the other magician remained in the room. When he finished writing, Conan Doyle folded the paper carefully and placed it in his pocket. He then returned to the house.

Houdini then told Doyle to pick up the paint-soaked ball and stick it on the suspended slate. The ball then inexplicably began to roll over the surface of the slate and it spelled out the biblical phrase, Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin... the exact words that Doyle had written on the paper!

Houdini claimed that it was all done by simple trickery but Doyle was more convinced than ever of his former friendís supernatural powers. Ernst begged Houdini to explain how the trick worked, either to himself or Doyle, in the strictest confidence, but Houdini refused. Strangely, he would never use the trick again in any of his shows and no one has ever been able to reproduce it. At that time, Bernard Ernst admitted that the trick reminded him of a certain mind-reading stunt that Houdini had stopped using because, as it explained to Ernst, it was "too spooky".

The relationship between the two men had become tense and it was damaged even more by an event that occurred during Conan Doyle's American lecture tour in May 1922. The tour got off to a rocky start when Doyle landed in New York and gave a press conference that was derided and harshly criticized in the New York Times the following day. He didn't let this bother him though and was delighted with his tour manager, Lee Keedick, and managed to catch up with a number of old friends. His first lecture, at Carnegie Hall, took place during a heat wave and the humidity inside of the packed lecture room was intense. A record-breaking crowd filled the building and they listened attentively as he spoke for more than an hour about the mysteries of the next world. The following day, a much kinder article appeared in the New York World:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made an extraordinary impression last night at Carnegie Hall, in his attempt to prove the existence of life after death and the possibility of communication with the dead. The effectiveness of his talk depended on the fact that in spite of the imagination of his writings, he seems to be a downright person. He does not look a man who could be easily stampeded. His audience was profoundly attentive. Evidently it was a crowd which had its dead.
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« Reply #24 on: March 04, 2007, 08:45:24 pm »

Doyle offered seven lectures in New York, all of which were well received. He spoke of his own experiences with mediums and at sťances and showed lantern slides of spirit photographs, mediums exuding ectoplasm and even photographs of Katie King, smiling sweetly at one of Florence Cook's sťances. Some of the happenings at the lectures were on the unsettling side though. Women fainted when the strange, spectral faces glowed on the screen, accompanied by the eerie strains of music from a Victrola. Others called out, begging for word from their dead loved ones. Every new slide brought a chorus of screams, moans and fainting spells. Distracted people wandered up and down the aisles, some sobbing uncontrollably. When the lecture ended though, Doyle's dressing room would be packed with well-wishers.



One of the massive crowds that turned out to hear Conan Doyle during his 1922 lecture tour in America
 It must have made for an weird and chilling series of talks -- and things were going to get worse. Newspaper reports of Doyle's New York lectures caused an extraordinary rush of suicides by people who wanted to see the "next world" immediately. Several of them made front page news. One woman, Maude Fancher, heard Doyle giving a speech on the radio and then murdered her son and consumed the contents of a bottle of Lysol cleaner. Before she swallowed the poison, which took a week to kill her, she wrote a letter to Conan Doyle and told him that Spiritualism inspired her to the act. Then, she left a detailed letter for her husband explaining that she wanted her baby to placed in her arms when she was placed in the tomb.
 

A Brooklyn potter, Frank Alexi, stabbed his wife in the head with an ice pick, claiming that he had seen a evil spirit sitting there that had followed him home from Carnegie Hall. A young man killed himself and his room mate because, he explained, "there were no gas bills in the afterlife."

Conan Doyle, when confronted with these and several other peculiar incidents, stated without hesitation that they were the result of "a misunderstanding of what Spiritualism is meant to be."

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« Reply #25 on: March 04, 2007, 08:46:05 pm »

This bit of bad press must have encouraged Doyle to get away from the thick of things and meet with a number of mediums of whom he was familiar. He attended a number of sťances, including one in which a "spirit" continually referred to him as "Sir Sherlock Holmes". At another, an apparition appeared from a spirit cabinet with the face of Doyle's late mother. When he grasped the spirit to embrace her, he was stunned to find the muscular shoulders of a man beneath the "spirit robes". Rather than expose the medium on the spot, Doyle waited to do it privately. Before he could so so though, the medium was caught in a hoax. When Doyle was accused of aiding the medium in his fraud, he related the story of the sťance -- but no one would believe him and he was savaged in the newspapers.

With this added dilemma, a meeting with his friend Houdini must have seemed a welcome respite. The two dined together and then returned to the magician's New York apartment. Here, he tried to explain to Doyle how the glove-like paraffin casts, supposedly of spirit hands, were created. A rubber glove would be filled with air, the wrist packed with wood, and then it would be dipped in paraffin wax. If fingerprints were needed, the first step would be to get a mold of a hand in dental wax or plaster; an impression would be made of the palm side of the hand, then of the back, and the two sides would be fitted together. Next, the entire hand would be duplicated in rubber and the fingerprints preserved. Once it was dipped in the paraffin, the process was complete. Doyle refused to accept this though -- maintaining that just because it could be duplicated by ordinary means did not mean that it was not created by extraordinary means in the first place.

On June 2, Doyle appeared as the guest of honor at the American Club of Magicians at the McAlpin Hotel. He solemnly announced to the assembled group that he would show something that was "psychic" and "prenatural" only in the sense that it as "not nature as we can now observe it". After building up an atmosphere of excitement and expectation (in the best tradition of a magician!), Doyle ordered the lights to be put out. Suddenly, the audience was astonished to see actual films of prehistoric creatures, including an iguanodon, a tyrannosaur and a brontosaurus, all struggling in a primeval forest. The next day, the New York Times ran a breathless story that was headlined "Dinosaurs Cavort on Film for Doyle". They pondered whether "these pictures were intended by the famous author as a joke on the magicians or a genuine pictures, like his photographs of fairies, was not revealed."

The next day, Doyle sent a humor-filled letter to Houdini, which he also released to the press. He revealed that the films had come from sequences in a motion picture version of his book, The Lost World, which was being produced in Chicago. The animation of the creatures had been done by Willis O'Brien, who would later go one to make the acclaimed original version of King Kong.

Needing a break from his hectic, and sometimes controversial, schedule in New York, the Conan Doyle's went to Atlantic City. He sent a message to Houdini and suggested that he come down for a short vacation. Houdini enthusiastically accepted and soon, Doyle was floating in the hotel swimming pool and admiring the length of time that the magician could remain under water, holding his breath. While Lady Jean and the children played with a beach ball, Doyle and Houdini sat in deck chairs, looking out over the ocean and discussing aspects of Spiritualism. As Conan Doyle described the work done by a Mrs. Deane in London, Houdini maintained a stoic silence, knowing that Mrs. Deane had been caught substituting a photographic plate from her purse for one exposed at a sťance.   And the discussion went on .... Houdini offered comments and careful observations but he had no intention of upsetting his friend and ruining their peaceful and enjoyable holiday.

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« Reply #26 on: March 04, 2007, 08:47:27 pm »

On Sunday, Bess Houdini joined the happy group. Doyle was excited to see her, as was her husband, who had been enjoying the time spent playing with the Doyle children. He had been entertaining them with small magic tricks and delighted in their laughter. He eagerly spent a few moments alone with Bess though and the couple of was sitting on the beach one afternoon when a young lifeguard's son came running along to tell them that Lady Jean wanted to give Houdini a private sťance in her suite. Houdini, who was impressed with Lady Jean's obvious sincerity and decency, was thrilled. Perhaps he could at last obtain proof of survival after death and when Conan Doyle later told him that Lady Jean would try and get a message to the magician from his adored mother, he was beside himself.
 


A photo of Houdini and the Doyle's in Atlantic City in 1922 -- just hours before the ill-fated sťance with Lady Jean.
 

Houdini went up to the suite with Doyle and Lady Jean greeted him with great affection. She sat down at a large table, where a pile of paper and a pencil lay ready. Doyle sat next to his wife and Houdini sat on the opposite side of the table. Conan Doyle then offered a solemn prayer and asked his wife if she was ready. Her hand struck the table three times (a Spiritualistic code for "yes") and then sank into a deep trance.

Houdini wrote later: "I had made up my mind that I would be as religious as it was in my power to be and not at any time did I scoff during the ceremony. I excluded all earthly thoughts and gave my whole soul to the sťance. I was willing to believe, even wanted to believe. It was weird to me and with a beating heart I waited, hoping that I might feel once more the presence of my beloved mother..."

Jean began to breathe deeply and her eyes fluttered. Her hand, as though moving on its own, dashed with amazing speed across sheets of paper. Conan Doyle handed them one by one over to the magician. Houdini turned pale and began to tremble. The message began: "Oh my darling, thank God, thank God, at last I'm through. I've tried, oh so often -- now I am happy. Why, of course, I want to talk to my boy -- my own beloved boy -- friends, thank you, with all my heart for this." The message continued with an expression of joy about Mrs. Weiss' new life and the beauty of the next world. She concluded with "I wanted, oh so much -- now I can rest in peace." Doyle then asked Houdini if he wanted to ask his mother a question for "her reply will prove that she is at your side."

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« Reply #27 on: March 04, 2007, 08:48:37 pm »

Houdini looked extremely upset and could not speak. Conan Doyle suggested a question. "Can my mother read my mind?" Houdini silently nodded his agreement and Lady Jean's hand began to move again. "I always wanted to read my beloved son's mind," the message continued, "there is so much that I want to say to him." The message then went on for several hundred words, mostly expressing joy at communicating with her son and her appreciation of the Doyle's.

At the end of the sťance, Houdini sank back in his chair, utterly drained and exhausted. Then, unseen by Doyle and Lady Jean, Houdini scribbled with a fragment of pencil a small note on the first sheet of paper. "Message written by Lady Doyle claiming the spirit of my dear Mother had control of her hand -- my sainted mother could not write English and spoke broken English." A moment later, he picked up a sheet of paper and boldly wrote on it a single word "Powell". He looked at Conan Doyle and his eyes issued a challenge to the other man. He had been thinking of his friend Powell, a fellow magician -- if his mother had been reading his mind, wouldn't she have known this.  But Doyle misunderstood the message completely and he stood up from his chair in shock. A good friend of Doyle's, Ellis Powell, editor of the London Financial News, had died just three days earlier. He was convinced that Houdini, with the gift of a medium, was trying to say that Powell was in the room. Houdini didn't have the heart to disillusion them on the spot but a few days later, he sent Doyle a letter to let him know that he was thinking of his magician friend and that he was not trying to tell him that a spectral presence was in the room.

Houdini left the hotel and returned to New York to wrestle with his conscience. Should he disclose the truth -- that his mother had not come through, that this had been her birthday and there was no reference made to it, that he felt no presence in the room, no smell of her favorite perfume -- and that when the message ended, he felt as alone and lost as he had when she died? If he were to reveal this, the Doyle's would be hurt and perhaps even ruined. On the other hand, if he kept quiet, he would be allowing the Spiritualists a false victory. Out of decency, he decided to withhold any statements about the sťance until after the Doyle's left America.

The Doyle's never expected the blow that awaited them. They remained friendly with Houdini, dining and attending the theater with him and he came to the docks to see them off when they departed by sea on June 24. For some reason, Houdini held back on speaking out about the Doyle's until December 19, 1922. At that time, he issued a release that stated there was not the slightest evidence that his mother had "come through" Lady Jean. His mother could not read or write and could barely speak English and in addition to that, Lady Jean had started her automatic writing by scrawling a cross on the top of the paper. His mother had been Jewish and would have never have done this.

Conan Doyle protested Houdini's claims, stating that language and earthly dates meant nothing to the spirits but Houdini was not convinced. He did not think that the Doyle's had deliberately tried to deceive him but had deceived themselves by  their own gullibility. As for the Doyle's, they weathered Houdini's criticisms, although his statement  furthered damaged their once friendly relationship. Doyle tried to remain loyal to the magician and convinced himself that Houdini was too nervous about the encounter with his mother's spirit to admit that it was genuine. They also claimed in some reports that another message had also come through that day -- claiming that Houdini would die soon -- and this was the reason he denied the authenticity of the communication.

For a short time after this, the two men tried to pretend that their friendship had not been ruined but it was too late to salvage it for the hurt was too deep on both sides. To the Doyle's, Houdini was willfully blind and appallingly ungrateful but to Houdini, the Doyle's had made a terrible mockery of the deep feelings that he had for his mother. What little remained of their friendship was destroyed in 1923 with Houdini's attacks on medium Mina Crandon, who appeared under the stage name of Margery. Houdini had become a member of a panel that was sponsored by Scientific American magazine to investigate self-proclaimed mediums and Houdini was instrumental in making sure that Margery was discredited. Doyle, who supported Margery, was outraged. "The commission is, in my opinion, a farce," he wrote, "and has already killed itself." Click Here to Read About Margery and her Battles with Houdini

The entire matter with Houdini, Margery and the Scientific American investigations was never settled to anyone's satisfaction. Margery was never deemed as genuine by the panel but she remained triumphant in the eyes of many, including Conan Doyle. The friendship between he and Houdini had finally reached its bitter end. "You force me to speak," he wrote to the magician, "and I have no wish to offend you but you cannot have it both ways. You cannot bitterly and offensively, often also unruly, attack a subject and yet expect courtesies from those who honor that subject. It is not reasonable."

Within a few years, in 1926, Bess Houdini would be shattered by her husband's premature death. While sorting through his papers and vast library, she uncovered a number of books on Spiritualism and the supernatural and thought they would make a nice gift to Conan Doyle, whom she still considered one of the best friends that Houdini had in life. She wrote to them and offered the books but Doyle was reluctant to take them, believing that Houdini had harbored bad feelings about him at the time of his death. Bess quickly replied that this was not the case and blamed most of the problems between the two men on the press. Houdini had never given up on the possibility of contacting his mother and told Bess so while on his death bed. And "if, as you believe, he had psychic powers," she wrote, "I give you my word that he never knew it.... He was deeply hurt whenever any journalistic arguments arose between you and would have been the happiest man in the world had he been able to agree with your views on spiritism. He admired and respected you .. two remarkable men with different views -- it is usually the third party that distorts the word or the meaning."

(C) Copyright 2003 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.prairieghosts.com/doyle_houdini.html
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« Reply #28 on: March 04, 2007, 08:51:11 pm »

- The Haunted Museum -

THE STRANGE CASE OF "MARGERY"
The Mystery of Houdini's Greatest Nemesis
 

 

Mina Crandon, best known as ďMargeryĒ, was a Boston medium who found herself embroiled in one of the most bitter controversies in American psychic research. Her followers claimed that she was one of the greatest mediums who ever lived, while her critics called her a fraud and blamed her for almost bringing paranormal research in America to an end. Her heyday came about during the decline of mediumship in America and perhaps for this reason, more blame has fallen on her than she deserves. Regardless though, she was perhaps the greatest rival of magician Harry Houdini as he was involved in his crusade against fraudulent mediums and their bitter sparring and debates almost damaged his career beyond recognition as well.

Mina Crandon was born in Ontario in 1888 and moved to Boston when she was 16. A few years after that, she married a local grocer named Earl P. Rand, with whom she had a son. They remained happily married until a medical operation introduced her to Le Roi Goddard Crandon, a prominent surgeon. She divorced Rand in 1918 and married Crandon a short time later.

Crandon had no psychic experiences early in life and in fact, had no interest in the spirit world at all until her husband became interested in the early 1920ís. One evening in May 1923, Dr. Crandon invited a number of friends to his home for a ďhome circleĒ meeting. The group gathered around a small table and soon had it tilting in response to the sitterís questions. Crandon suggested that they each exit the room, one at a time, to see which individual was responsible for the paranormal activity. One by one, each of them left and the table continued to tilt -- until it was Mina Crandonís turn to leave.
 

Mina "Margery" Crandon
 

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« Reply #29 on: March 04, 2007, 08:53:15 pm »

Surprisingly, a few days before, a psychic had told Mina that she possessed supernatural abilities and that she sensed a laughing young man was attempting to contact Mina from the spirit world. The young man turned out to be Minaís brother, Walter, who had died in 1911 in a railway accident. He would soon become Crandonís spirit guide and, along with his sister, would become famous all over the world.

In addition to the celebrity gained by Crandonís ethereal brother, Mina herself became well-known for her risquť and sometimes bizarre sťances. It was not uncommon for her to hold sessions in the **** and according to some, she was especially adept at manifesting ectoplasm from her ****. It was also rumored that she had affairs with some of her would-be investigators, thus silencing a few of her most vocal critics.

The first test of Minaís psychic abilities took place in July 1923 under the guidance of Gardner Murphy, William McDougall and a group of Harvard graduate students and professors. When it was over, McDougall tried unsuccessfully to get Crandon to admit to fraud. She refused.



An Obviously amused Mina Crandon looks on as researcher J. Malcolm Bird is knocked to the floor by an allegedly spirit controlled panel.
 
The panel questioned the reality of Crandonís abilities and it is likely that she would have faded into obscurity if not for the contest that was sponsored by Scientific American magazine. The contest was conceived by J. Malcolm Bird, an associate editor of the magazine, and it promised a prize of $2500 to any medium who could show genuine psychic ability. The judges were Walter Franklin Prince, an American psychical researcher; Hereward Carrington, a popular occult writer; Daniel Comstock, who introduced Technicolor to films; William McDougall, a professor of psychology a Harvard University; and magician and escape artist Harry Houdini.

The investigation, while it got a lot of press, was essentially a disaster. It was soon noticeable to everyone that there was a lot of friction between Houdini and the supporters of Margery, including J. Malcolm Bird, who had been assigned to observe, organize and record the investigation. Bird wanted Houdini disqualified from the panel and proceeded to start the investigations without him. Soon, the committee was deadlocked. Carrington and Bird believed that some genuine phenomena was occurring in Margery's presence but the others refused to commit without Houdini's opinion. At Bird's urging, they eventually relented and began to consider awarding Margery the $2500.
 
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