RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.
User avatar
JohnCox
Posts: 923
Joined: March 21st, 2009, 3:03 pm
Favorite Magician: HOUDINI!
Location: Studio City, CA
Contact:

RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Postby JohnCox » November 22nd, 2010, 10:35 am

Recently I had the extreme pleasure of traveling to the Warner Bros. Corporate Archive to examine the long forgotten file on what could very well be Hollywood's first attempt to make a movie based on the life of Harry Houdini. At least it's the earliest I've heard. What I found is pretty interesting (I think).

Check out Part I: "Paul Muni would make an ideal Houdini."

Thanks! :)
Visit my blog Wild About Harry

User avatar
JohnCox
Posts: 923
Joined: March 21st, 2009, 3:03 pm
Favorite Magician: HOUDINI!
Location: Studio City, CA
Contact:

Re: RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Postby JohnCox » November 22nd, 2010, 11:42 am

Oh, and please feel free to comment on the article if you like. You don't need to register or put in an email address or anything. I've even turned off the CAPTCHA (I can never make those darn things out).
Visit my blog Wild About Harry

houdini's ghost
Posts: 434
Joined: September 24th, 2008, 7:23 pm

Re: RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Postby houdini's ghost » November 22nd, 2010, 3:20 pm

I have been posting this on other sites, but, my uncle, Wallace Ford, had, I am positive from what he told me, a version of this script which was intended for Broadway.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 22970
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 22nd, 2010, 3:42 pm

Wally Ford was your uncle?
Wally Ford who was in Freaks?
Wally Ford who was in Mummy movies?
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

houdini's ghost
Posts: 434
Joined: September 24th, 2008, 7:23 pm

Re: RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Postby houdini's ghost » November 22nd, 2010, 5:21 pm

Yes! He's Phroso the clown in Freaks and Babe in those two mummy films. Along those lines, he was in "the Ape-Man" with Lugosi.
He is marvelous in two pictures in which he played Shelley Winters father: "He Ran All The Way," John Garfield's last picture; and "A Patch Of Blue," which was Wally's last picture.
He was wonderful in "Harvey," as the informee in "the Informer," and a picture with Helen Twelvetrees and avid magician Victor Jory called "My Woman."
Well, he always delivered. I was exceptionally lucky to have known him as long as I did. He died in 1966.

User avatar
JohnCox
Posts: 923
Joined: March 21st, 2009, 3:03 pm
Favorite Magician: HOUDINI!
Location: Studio City, CA
Contact:

Re: RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Postby JohnCox » November 23rd, 2010, 11:35 am

Wow, I never knew Wally Ford was your uncle. You're a fountain of fascinating information, ghost. :)
Visit my blog Wild About Harry

Lisa Cousins
Posts: 429
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Hollywood

Re: RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Postby Lisa Cousins » November 23rd, 2010, 3:37 pm

Pat, didn't you tell me that your aunt - Wallace Ford's wife - received a telephone call from Thelma Todd AFTER the police claimed Thelma was already dead? And that this tended to illustrate that Thelma Todd did not die peacefully of carbon monoxide poisoning in her own car on one night, but murderously on the next? The LA police of that era were so corrupt that it now seems impossible to figure out "what really happened" in that case, as well as many others.

houdini's ghost
Posts: 434
Joined: September 24th, 2008, 7:23 pm

Re: RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Postby houdini's ghost » November 23rd, 2010, 9:45 pm

Yes. My Aunt Martha was very honest and smart. She had absolutely no reason to tell me some old story she made up.
Back around 1960, Martha (Haworth) Ford told me that she received a telephone call from Thelma Todd the afternoon after Todd was supposed to have died. Thelma told her she was coming to the party Martha and Wally were throwing. They had a little ranch on Laurel Canyon Blvd. in what is now Studio City.
There was a witness who claims she saw Thelma Todd make that call from a phone booth on Sunset Blvd. --Martha didn't tell me about that. Just her part.
We were talking about Thelma Todd and she said, "I was the last person to speak to her."
The police interrogated Martha for a long time, 13 hours or something. How long it was I don't quite remember. I don't think they ever got anything different out of her, but, my mother told me that somebody threw a scare into Martha and she didn't talk about it for years. Or ever--it just happened to come up because I knew she and Thelma Todd had been friends and we were talking about her comedy work with the Marx Bros. and Laurel and Hardy and Martha told me about the phone call.
Martha Ford and I were great pals. Again, she was an honest. and straightforward person. I am convinced that she was convinced she had spoken with "Hot Toddy" hours after the coroner said she had died.

User avatar
JohnCox
Posts: 923
Joined: March 21st, 2009, 3:03 pm
Favorite Magician: HOUDINI!
Location: Studio City, CA
Contact:

Re: RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Postby JohnCox » November 24th, 2010, 10:23 am

Wow, that's fascinating, Patrick.

BTW, Part II: "The waters are dark for Pinetti" is up now. Some more good stuff here. Hope you all enjoy.
Visit my blog Wild About Harry

Mark W. Nelson
Posts: 41
Joined: January 24th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Granada Hills, CA

Re: RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Postby Mark W. Nelson » January 7th, 2011, 5:02 pm

Some of my favorite Wallace Ford quotes from THE MUMMY'S HAND:

"I was practicing my Rock Trick!"

"If it isn't the jackals, it's the desert, if it isn't the desert, it's the mummy, if it isn't the mummy, it's you."

(That last may be wrong -- it's all from memory after all.)

My favorite "Kharis" mummy movie because of Ford, and Dick Foran, and Peggy Moran, Cecil Kellaway and George Zucco -- what a great cast and they all seemed to be having a great time.

Peggy Moran came to our Magic Castle Awards Show in 2001, when Bela Lugosi, Jr. and Sara Karloff were presenters.
Best,

Mark

User avatar
JohnCox
Posts: 923
Joined: March 21st, 2009, 3:03 pm
Favorite Magician: HOUDINI!
Location: Studio City, CA
Contact:

Re: RKO 589: Hollywood's first Houdini film

Postby JohnCox » February 4th, 2011, 12:17 pm

Sorry for the non-Genii plug here, but an expanded version of my article is in this month's MAGIC.

http://www.wildabouthoudini.com/2011/02 ... o-589.html
Visit my blog Wild About Harry


Return to “Magic History and Anecdotes”