Author Topic: Houdini\\\'s audience with the imperial family  (Read 2624 times)

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Offline Sarushka

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Houdini\\\'s audience with the imperial family
« on: August 22, 2007, 10:51:13 AM »
I'm in the midst of reading The Secret Life of Harry Houdini, by William Kalush and Larry Sloman and was surprised to find that Houdini performed for the imperial family in Moscow in the spring of 1903. Has anyone else read about this performance? The authors allege that GD Sergei, GDs Ella, and the tsar himself were present.

Most all the sources given are American newspaper clippings, and I can't help wondering how sensationalized the stories might have been. I can't imagine the press was allowed to view the performance, and Houdnini himself had quite a flair for the dramatic. Then when a mention of Houdini's tangential involvement in the M. Phillippe/Rasputin affair entered the picture, my antennae lifted. For example, an article in the Chicago Herald claims that Houdini was asked on three separate occasions to become an advisor to the court. A few snippets:

"Houdini's powers so amazed the czar and his family that he was asked to replace Phillipp as the czar's  close confidant." (pg 141) [Asked by whom, I'd like to know.]

"The opposition to Rasputin's power grew and in 1912, Houdini was contacted by the czar's court officials to come to Russia and depose the faker. Houdini considered making the trip but never did." (pg 141)

Is there any truth to all this, or is it turn-of-the-century journalism at large...?

Source notes for the chapter in question can be found here:
http://www.conjuringarts.org/houdini/Houdini%20footnotes%20Chapter%208%20v.%201.2.pdf

Notes regarding Houdini's imperial appearance begin with #21.
THE LOST CROWN: A Novel of Romanov Russia -- now in paperback!
"A dramatic, powerful narrative and a masterful grasp of life in this vanished world." ~Greg King

Offline Sarushka

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Houdini\\\'s audience with the imperial family
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2007, 08:59:48 AM »
Bumping this up in hopes of a reply....
THE LOST CROWN: A Novel of Romanov Russia -- now in paperback!
"A dramatic, powerful narrative and a masterful grasp of life in this vanished world." ~Greg King

Offline Svetabel

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Houdini\\\'s audience with the imperial family
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2007, 11:05:02 AM »
In the Warwick bio on GDss Elizaveta Fedorovna there are some lines about Houdini's performance in 1903 for the GD Sergei, his wife and the Moscow's high society (the fact Warwick got from the Milbourne bio on Houdini). Also an article of a Gresham on Houdini contains some words about that performance. But only Grand Ducal pair is mentioned not the Tsar or his family.

Offline Sarushka

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Houdini\\\'s audience with the imperial family
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2007, 10:06:28 PM »
Thanks Sveta, I'll have to look that book up.

Houdini seemed to enjoy embellishing his experiences, so I'm curious to see how other accounts of the performance compare.
THE LOST CROWN: A Novel of Romanov Russia -- now in paperback!
"A dramatic, powerful narrative and a masterful grasp of life in this vanished world." ~Greg King