Houdini would work "deals" with the bookers, like Keith's, Pantages, etc. and when the top acts were getting $3,500 a week, he would work for less, but told the agents to say he was making 35... when the scale went up to $4,500 -- same deal.
However, Houdini would Four Wall and make even more per week.
Then, after his FIRST MOVIE he came back to the agents and told them "Now you have to pay me what I am worth." And got the top money for his type of act.
But, Van Hoven still was the top paid act, with his "Dippy Mad Magcian" act.
An example: (straight from my Dad who was his opening act) "Frank would bring a kid up from the audience and have him hold a 50lb block of ice... the audienc would be in stitches, meanwhile Frank would slip off-stage out the door to a tavern next door, buy a beer, gulp it down, then come back onstage to finish the act."
Unfortunately, my dad remembers little else of the act. Except that he was hilarious and got top money.
I have a Van Hoven PLAYBILL on my wall... from the Argyle Theater, in England. It is my prized poster possession.