HOUDINI - The Key is at the printers

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Kevin Connolly » 08/04/10 08:28 PM

Patrick Culliton's latest book, "HOUDINI - the Key" is at the printers. I just posted some of the information on the book on my blog. There is also a link to the page on how to order this limited edition book. Here is the link to the blog page.



Please visit my website.
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
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Kevin Connolly
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Postby houdini's ghost » 08/04/10 08:34 PM

We are now 4-5 weeks from publication. If any of you would like to take advantage of the pre-publication price of 160 + 12 shipping (in the US) you can pay by paypal to pkcull@aol.com or you can send a check to:
Patrick Culliton
8036 Jovenita Cyn.
Los Angeles, CA, 90046
After the book is published, the price will be 195 + 12.
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Postby Gregory Edmonds » 08/13/10 11:27 AM


I've been working on a piece (I'm not sure to which publication I'll offer it as yet), on the infamous incident reported by Bernard Ernst in "Houdini and Conan Doyle - Story of a Strange Friendship," in which Ernst recounts Conan Doyle's visit to Houdini and Houdini performing (perhaps his most "mysterious" trick).

Said illusion had Conan Doyle secretly write something on a sheet of paper (Ernst guilds the proverbial lilly by having him him walk several blocks from the Houdini brownstone, in order to do so, if my memory serves); moments later, the word is written by an unseen hand on a blackboard in Houdini's office/library.

Many have speculated on the effect over the years; I have three (maybe four) sources, now, clearly establishing the facts (incorrectly reported by Ernst, of course -- I have a letter Conan Doyle wrote to Houdini -- Ernst and Carrington misquote it in the book, so misinformation in this instance has precedence). Taken together, the sources paint a pretty clear picture not only of what really happened, but also HOW it was done.

Before I take the trouble to write this up, please let me know if you've covered it to a substantial degree in "THE KEY." If you'd like, I'll give you a call, and we can compare stories, just in case (the scene, by the way, is recorded -- with some Hollywood embellishment, naturally) in the film "Fairy Tail, a True Story." In the movie, the scenario takes place at the home of Conan Doyle, rather than Houdini who (as you know) really played no role in the actual events recounted in the film, at all.

Thanks in advance,

Greg Edmonds

PS The Houdini bust we offer online is about to get a fairly significant "face lift," quite literally speaking. Please let me know, if you're interested. The first four gentlemen who purchased the initial version of the bust (each is marked " 'x' / 1000 ") now own one in an edition of only FOUR. So, of course, in the natural progression on things, these four will someday be worth much more than the newer version. Currently, we're putting the finishing touches on a Conan Doyle bust, which matches Houdini's in style and size.
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Postby houdini's ghost » 08/13/10 08:32 PM

I worked on the movie Fairy Tale, uncredited, as Harvey Keitel's Houdini advisor. I brought in Stanley Palm and Dorothy Young. Dorothy showed Harvey how Houdini made an entrance, how he moved.
I do write at some length in Houdini--the Key about the Mene Tekel trick Houdini performed for Conan Doyle. In brief, I mention the fact that the "witness," Ernst, was an amateur magician (president of the S.A.M.), a lawyer, and Houdini's lawyer at that. I mention Houdini's friendship with the Berol family. Max Berol presented a stage version of the Mene Tekel trick in vaudeville, which Houdini bought from his son. I mention Bert Reese and reprint the very best treatise ever written on Reese's billet switch: Houdini's explanation of it.
In Houdini A Pictorial Life, Christopher offers his theory which is pretty reasonable.
None of us was there. I could stage something like it in my house and my house isn't gimmicked from the front door to the back and from the basement to the attic like 278 W. 113th St. I don't have hidden mikes all over the house.
I urge anyone who wants the pre-publication price of 160 + 12 shipping (in the U.S.) to contact me at
I should have the books in my hands in four weeks. then the price will go to 195 + 12.
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Postby Gregory Edmonds » 08/13/10 11:17 PM

houdini's ghost wrote:I worked on the movie Fairy Tale, uncredited, as Harvey Keitel's Houdini advisor. I brought in Stanley Palm and Dorothy Young. Dorothy showed Harvey how Houdini made an entrance, how he moved.

That's great, sorry you weren't credited, though; I've known a couple of folks in similar circumstance. Come to think of it, I guess I could say the same about a few network television appearances by those who performed routines I provided.

If Mel Gibson was on set while you were there, did he perform his spoon bending trick? I think I saw it twice, and admit that it fooled me, but later (I believe) I worked it out. I understand he may do a little more magic as well, but have no idea when or from whom he picked it up, if he's not self-taught.

You are, of course, entirely correct about speculation regarding the "Mene Tekel" effect. You're kind in your reference to Ernst. What he clearly did in the book was, in fact, tell a bald-faced lie. Houdini himself makes reference to the trick in (I think the second?) Conjurer's Magazine he published.

In his description, as I recall, the very expression "Mene Tekel" (I have to smile at the word choice) was the same one mysteriously written on the board when he saw Berol perform (and then decided to purchase it for himself).

I don't have the magazine before me, but I seem to remember his describing its having been demonstrated in a room such as a parlor or hotel lobby, rather than the stage. The memory may be completely erroneous. With age and pain medication, my mind has become, of all the things I've ever lost, the thing I miss the most.

I look forward to your book, but will have to put it on hold because of dental work for two family members, plus two medical visits of my own to pay for next week. My ready cash, for the most part, was also invested in our new Internet ventures. I'm sure I'll find your (Houdini's) Bert Reese discussion very interesting as well.

By the way, I was fortunate to have (by lucky circumstance) a private screening of Fairy Tale when it was first released. I recall having immediately after written a review in which I complimented Mr. Keitel on his performance as "a very likable" Houdini, and what I regarded as probably the most realistic ever to appear on the screen. So, job well done!

I'll hold off on the article, but might make mention of the mystery (and my guesses regarding its modus operandi) in one of my own books. After reading your work, I may elect to do the article after all, if our opinions differ to any significant degree as to the method.

Thanks for responding.

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Postby houdini's ghost » 08/24/10 09:50 PM

I was asked to post my table of contents.

Introduction 7
Prologue 9
the Family
Rabbi Mayer Samuel Weiss 9
Cecelia Steiner Weiss and Her Children 12
the Boyhood 18
the Little Messenger 20
Bessie 26
Chapter One Metamorphosis 44
the Other Houdini 60
Chapter Two the Handcuff King 64
Chapter Three the Handcuff Trick 77
The Defiance Handcuff Act 78
Lewis Paul 90
Coining His Thrill in Publicity 92
The Power 95
Gaffed Cuffs 101
Chapter Four Blackburn 108
The Great Handcuff Release 120
Chapter Five the Confederates 125
Chapter Six Cologne 132
Chapter Seven the Supercuffs 137
Chapter Eight the Mirror Handcuff Mystery 144
Chapter Nine the Jail Breaker 158
the Carette 167
Light on the Subject of Jailbreaking 169
Yorkville 171
the Fairy Handcuff King 173
Chapter Ten How I Get Out of My Rope Ties 181
Chapter Eleven My Rope Escapes 189
Chapter Twelve Lessons in Magic 203
Chapter Thirteen the King of Cards 212
Chapter Fourteen Exclusive Magic Secrets 228
the Magnetic Pencil 237
the Thumb Racket 238
the Wizard Exposed 240
Chapter Fifteen the Kid Brother 242
Chapter Sixteen the Assistants 244
Chapter Seventeen the Inventors 248
Chapter Eighteen the Milk Can 250
the Double Fold Death Defying Mystery 260
A Liar Worthy of Houdini 263
Chapter Nineteen Walking Through a Solid Brick Wall 264
Chapter Twenty the Vanishing Elephant 276
Chapter Twenty-One Chained Inside a Sea Monsterthe Challenges 294
the Iron Boiler 299
the Glass Case 301
the Iron Box 304
the Wet Sheet Test 305
the Mail Bag 306
Chapter Twenty-Two Boxes 309
Chapter Twenty-Three Burial At Sea 314
Chapter Twenty-Four Buried Alive 322
Chapter Twenty-Five the Man Who Read Roosevelts Mind 340
Chapter Twenty-Six How I Get Out of a Straight-Jacket 348
the Houdini Hardeen Straight Jacket Release 356
the Straight Jacket Release 359
Chapter Twenty-Seven the House of Mystery 365
Chapter Twenty-eight Ghosts that Talk by Radio 376
Chapter Twenty-Nine How I Do My Spirit Tricks 385
Chapter Thirty the Big Show 396
Paligenesia 400
Radio 1950 402
Chapter Thirty-One How I Unmask the Spirit Fakers 406
Chapter Thirty-Two the Yogi Masterpiece 421
Chapter Thirty-Three the Water Torture Cell 428
Index 457
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