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27 February 2017

[Guest post] Houdini in Vancouver part 3

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.

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February 27th, 1923 (Tuesday)

Houdini to Perform in Vancouver
Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic.



It is now H (for Houdini) - Day Minus 1.

Houdini appears to be coming from performing in Winnipeg (in what appears to be a cross-Canada tour heading west). No doubt he (and his supporting acts including a young comedian named Jack Benny) will appreciate Vancouver's milder weather having experienced Winnipeg in mid-February.

Window advertisements for a Houdini performance and shows at the Orpheum theatre.
Vancouver Public Library 86870.

The public must have been eagerly awaiting the first appearance ever in Vancouver of this legendary "genius of escape" who's exploits they have read about (and possibly even seen dramatized on the silent screen) without ever a hope of actually seeing him in person.

Until now - during his triumphant "return to vaudeville."

The Vancouver Sun, our primary source for continuing coverage, is doing an incredible job ratcheting up public interest in the Houdini story and in doing so has become very much part of his eternal legend.

In the lower left corner of page one on this date is the headline,
"Sun Planning to Make It Tough Job For Friend Houdini."

It first recapitulates the news about his latest sensational stunt, the water torture cell, which he will perform at the Orpheum.

The report at this point is a bit confusing. That is, it is confusing from our point of view today. It describes the water torture cell as both his "original" as well as "self-constructed" escape stunt but then mentions that Houdini will escape from "the can filled to the brim with water" - which surely sounds more like Houdini's old classic milk can escape?

My guess is the writer of this article, not having ever seen the act, has simply confabulated details of the two different escapes into one. Or that he is sloppily referring to the water torture cell as a can. It is unclear. Not that contemporary audiences of the day would know or care.

Given equal prominence in this third article is a reminder of Houdini's "acceptance" of the challenge purportedly issued by The Sun "to liberate himself from a straight jacket [sic] wrapped about him. . . suspended by the ankles, head downwards, from a beam in front of The Sun office, at a height of at least thirty feet."

The Sun enthusiastically concludes,
"This will probably be one of his greatest efforts. . . a wonderful chance to show his genius. . ."

I know if I were alive at the time and living in Vancouver I'd've already bought multiple performance tickets. And for sure I'd be outside The Sun office on Thursday at high noon to see Houdini escape from his straitjacket confinement.

How about you?

A paid Orpheum Theatre advertisement similar to the first also appears in this issue.



TOMORROW: "Houdini Defies Police; Ditto Their Hangman."



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Researched by The Magic Demon exclusively for Canada's Magic. With thanks to the Vancouver Public Library and The Vancouver Sun.

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Thank you to
The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!

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