Skirball Exhibits in today's LA TIMES

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Postby Richard Hatch » 04/25/11 01:37 AM

A nice feature on the Skirball exhibits on Houdini and other Jewish magicians (two separate exhibits) is in today's LA TIMES, including a quote from Ricky Jay:
http://tinyurl.com/6ach6j4
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Postby Pete Biro » 04/25/11 01:40 AM

Terrific article in the Times.
Stay tooned.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 04/25/11 08:46 AM

Does he get credit for inventing bling?
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Postby Richard Hatch » 04/25/11 09:24 AM

The Skirball has posted some photos online of the Houdini exhibit being installed. Here's one, from which the others can be accessed:
http://tinyurl.com/3zguxw7
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 04/25/11 09:33 AM

It looks-like my picture, but it's missing something. :confused:
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 04/25/11 09:45 AM

Kevin, would you post a link to your picture?
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 04/25/11 11:45 AM

You didn't see it at the museum? Buy the book? I'll see if I can find a link for it. The photo is hard for me to reach right now. :)
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 04/25/11 11:55 AM

Jon

See if this works. Just click on the circus photo. You might want to have your sound on.

http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/site/pag ... ceOfTheAir
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 04/25/11 12:10 PM

I own a copy of the book and can see the pic on that site - wondering what's different in your pic.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 04/25/11 02:09 PM

The handwritten numbers seemed to have disappeared.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 04/26/11 11:35 AM

This article in The Jewish Journal by Edmon Rodman on the Skirball Exhibit has some interesting quotes and graphics: http://tinyurl.com/3zk9b67
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 04/26/11 01:55 PM

Here's a lenticular card they will be selling at the museum shop.

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Postby houdini's ghost » 04/28/11 12:35 AM

Today, I toured the exhibit at the Skirball. It is absolutely terrific. The Houdini section is beautiful, but, the fact that many other magicians are featured is even more beautiful.
Houdini has gotten more attention than any magician in history, we know that. And that has been to the disadvantage of all the rest of magic history.
This time, Houdini will draw the people in and they will learn something about Goldin, DeBiere, Okito, Fogel, Ballantine, Marvyn Roy and others.
Curiously missing is Hardeen.
Who provided the Milk Can? It looks like either a Hardeen Can or the Can that Hardeen permitted Julian Proskauer to have made, which was a copy of the Hardeen Milk Can.
Also missing is any reference to the thousands of challenges Houdini got people to present to him. The challenges were such a basic part of Houdini's career.
But, you couldn't fit everything about Houdini into ten Skirball Centers.
They did great!
Nobody who is interested in magic history should miss this exhibit.
I understand that on Thursdays, admission to the Skirball is free.
The Skirball is organizing a day at the Magic Castle for their "Learning for Life" project. I am lecturing on "Houdini in Los Angeles" and Jim Bentley will be performing in a hitherto unseen one-act play by Jim Steinmeyer.
Here's the link for that:
http://www.skirball.org/programs/course ... 1/title956
Hope to see some of you there.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 04/28/11 01:46 AM

houdini's ghost wrote:Curiously missing is Hardeen.

Hi Patrick, great seeing you at the dinner last night. There are actually two 1906 Hardeen challenges from England on display in the MASTERS OF ILLUSION exhibition, on the wall right next to the Houdini display there (not to be confused with the Houdini and Art exhibition in the nearby Getty Gallery). Both challenges are to do the straitjacket escape and one specifically requires that he do it in full view of the audience, to preclude his use of traps, etc. In the docent and media tours I gave, I always pointed out that Hardeen partnered with Houdini early in career, and was the first to do the straight jacket escape in full view of the audience, so should be recognized in his own right. Hopefully some of this information will trickle down to the public as well!
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Postby houdini's ghost » 04/28/11 02:21 AM

Richard--
Wonderful seeing you last night. And everybody else. So, Hardeen and challenges ARE represented. Apparently, there is too much to see in two hours. I also did not see the Handcuffs Kevin Connolly loaned which I'm sure are there.
I'll go back at least five times--I should be able to absorb it all. Your work on this exhibit was absolutely first-rate.
Is that Milk Can from the American Magic Museum?
I have some beautiful Hardeen material including an oversize promotional portrait from 1928. I was never approached about anything but putting in an appearance at the Castle on June 3. And there is the footage of the Metamorphosis with his daughter Gladys. That should be in the exhibit. Had it been, the New York Times would not have reported that after Houdini was locked in the trunk, Bessie climbed on top of the trunk and held up a cloth. History took a back seat there!
The video exhibits were fantastic: Houdini doing the USD straight-jacket after working up the crowd using a bullhorn, Gaughan presenting Antonio Diavalo, Horace Goldin and Ballantine among the highlights.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 04/28/11 02:50 AM

Patrick, I am pretty sure the milk can is from the American Museum of Magic. It had been on loan to the Houston Museum of Natural Science for their Magic Exhibit last year, then was due to travel to New York for the initial run of the "Houdini and Art" exhibition there, then traveled to the Skirball. Don't know the details, but that is my understanding. Among the other video clips, DeBiere doing the egg bag (discussed elsewhere on the Genii Forum recently), Maurice Fogel doing Russian Roulette on the David Nixon Show, Marvyn Roy's Mr. Electric Act, Al Flosso's miser's dream, Okito and Fu Manchu improvising with camera tricks with Okito's grandson Robert in Amsterdam....
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Postby houdini's ghost » 04/28/11 03:56 AM

I first saw the footage of Hardeen performing the Metamorphosis in 1962. Bob Gunther was in charge of the S.A.M. film library for Assembly 22. As I remember, he could borrow film from Parent Assembly. It was on 9 and 1/2 millimeter film. It was so grainy that I couldn't tell for sure whether or not Hardeen was using the trunk made from a shipping box that I had recently been given by Kelly Green. The footage has shown up in several of the documentaries, the clearest and longest being on the KINO set.
I knew Maurice Fogel. When I saw him perform the Russian Roulette, he covered both eyes with his hands--having almost gotten his eye shot out. In the video at the Skirball, he doesn't do that, but, you can see in his face that he knew it could happen.
That was the original Metamorphosis Trunk in the Hardeen footage and it was the one I owned. Joe Long is its current custodian.
There is a beautiful Houdini Metamorphosis Trunk in the exhibit. I believe it came from Roger Dreyer. Made by the Taylor Trunk Factory and gaffed by Collins and Vickery. Beautiful!
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 04/28/11 07:04 AM

Pat,

Look for the handcuffs that are stamped "HOUDINI" on the flat edge of the hinge. They were in the center of the display of handcuffs in NYC.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 04/28/11 10:53 AM

Pat,

Here is the link to the cuff. Just click on the image on the left and it will enlarge

http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/site/pag ... /Handcuffs

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Postby houdini's ghost » 04/30/11 12:11 AM

A second visit:
Best display of Magic History I've ever seen.
There are two Hardeen challenges, so, Hardeen is represented-- but still not enough. He was a pivotal figure in Houdini's life, a headliner in his own right, he had a very long career, and he wound it up with 4 1/2 years on Broadway in Hellzapoppin.
I was suspicious of the Milk Can. I had been told it was the Julien Proskauer Milk Can. I've traced its history. It is the Milk Can Martin Sunshine bought from the Hardeen estate. It has been on display at the American Museum of Magic for many years. It's definitely a Hardeen Milk Can--I believe I have a photo of Hardeen in it. Whether or not it was ever used by Houdini I can't say. Definitely used by Hardeen.
Probably calls for a photo of Hardeen somewhere in the place.
John Cox told me at lunch today (with a high powered Houdini forum including Gaughan, Moses, Bentley, and Willoughby in the Seance room at the Castle) that the footage of Hardeen performing the Metamorphosis is on one of the video displays.
Very good.
I'd still like to see more Hardeen, but, this is a fabulous exhibit. The other night, Ballantine's daughters were there to see their great old man honored. Marvyn Roy is being honored and he's still with us.
Beautiful sub trunk. Houdini had the trunk (and another) made to size by the Taylor Trunk Company, then, Collins and Vickery gaffed it.
Okito, Goldin. Reserve hours to absorb it all.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 04/30/11 12:31 AM

Here's a link to a Southern California Public Radio interview with Erin Clancey, curator of the Skirball's Masters of Illusion exhibit:
http://www.scpr.org/programs/madeleine- ... 9/houdini/
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Postby houdini's ghost » 04/30/11 01:58 PM

I have heard Steinmeyer, Caveney, Kalush and others express themselves quite brilliantly on the subject of Magic History. This woman, Erin Clancey, is as good as anyone I have ever heard.
She really understands the subject (and this is Culliton talking!) and, in answering questions, she presents a very clear portrait of Houdini without wasting any words--no stumbling either--eloquently.
The whole exhibit is like that.
I'm getting used to the fact that Theo Hardeen is seriously under-represented in the exhibit. I suppose it's always been that way for kid brothers who, however talented in their own right, spend their lives in their older brothers' shadows.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 04/30/11 02:58 PM

Pat,

Did you find my handcuffs?

Kevin
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Postby houdini's ghost » 04/30/11 03:27 PM

Don't hate me, Kevin. I got distracted and forgot to look for them.
I'm going back very soon. I was telling Gaughan, Arthur and Linda Moses, John Cox and Mark Willoughby about your cuffs, but I got hung up watching some heroes on video (Marvyn Roy and Ballantine) and I was focusing on the Milk Can and the Hardeen challenges. Next time I go, I'm going to go the cuffs first, and I'll report back. I'm also going to print out the photo that I believe is Hardeen with that Can and go forensic with it. See if I can make a positive ID.
Did you provide the photo of the needles with the three assistants and a guy I don't know?
It's on the page with the Erin Clancey interview--and on the wall.
Great big beautiful exhibit!
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 04/30/11 06:05 PM

The Needle picture isn't mine. I think it's Ken Trombly's.
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Postby JohnCox » 04/30/11 07:32 PM

houdini's ghost wrote:A second visit:
I was suspicious of the Milk Can. I had been told it was the Julien Proskauer Milk Can. I've traced its history. It is the Milk Can Martin Sunshine bought from the Hardeen estate. It has been on display at the American Museum of Magic for many years. It's definitely a Hardeen Milk Can--I believe I have a photo of Hardeen in it. Whether or not it was ever used by Houdini I can't say. Definitely used by Hardeen.

I agree. That's certainly Hardeen's Can. You can see a photo of it in the New Conjurers mag (Vol 1 1945) showing Hardeen getting into it with Vickery as assistant. That article says the can was made in 1928, btw.

Looking at the can in person, it's not anywhere as well made as a Houdini Can would be.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 05/02/11 10:12 AM

This article in the Los Angeles Daily News has some great photos of the exhibit:
http://www.dailynews.com/ci_17964924?
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Postby Burt Sperber » 05/02/11 01:48 PM

For those of you who are not aware of the above notices of what they are talking about. It's the Skirball Exhibit on Houdini: Art and Magic from the New York Jewish Museum and the Golden Age of Magic, which was added primarily by the California Magic Community. Of the two shows, they are both excellent! I might be a little biased and think the Golden Age of Magic is the highlight. I personally would like to thank a number of people who made great contributions to helping it be what it is. First of all Richard Hatch who wrote the story of the Masters of Illusion - Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age of Magic. He also did the first tours of the exhibition.
Also contributing were Ricky Jay, Bob Rossi, John Gaughan, Max Maven, Pat Culliton, Mike Caveney, Tina Lenert, Roger Dryer, Joan Lawton, Christopher Woodward, Clay Shevlin, Bill Kalush and Milt Larson as well as my wife, Charlene Sperber and others.
This show runs through September 4th and if you're interested in Magic History, it's a MUST! Tickets are I believe $10.00, except on Thursday, it's free. It is a great exhibit on the history of magic put together by the Skirball Cultural Center.
When I first met the curator, Erin Clancey, her knowledge of magic and magic history was minimal. Today, I will tell you she is an expert on the exhibit and I am proud to call her my friend. She put the show together from an idea I gave her almost 2 years ago. I would strongly suggest if you have not listened to the radio broadcast in Richard Hatch's above post, Southern California Public Radio, and listen to Erin, you will be impressed.
If you're making a special trip out to Southern California to the Skirball, it would be good to get the program of the special shows they are putting on. Opening night for a UCLA charity event, they had on the subject of magic of the mind, they had a show emcee'd by Max Maven with the Amazing Randy flying in from Florida. Bill Kalush flew in from New York and Mac King and others flying in from Las Vegas.
I believe Houdini's name is the single most known entertaining celebrity in the world of all times. All countries, if you ask what person's name is most known as an entertainer, I believe you'll find the most world recognized name is Harry Houdini. No singer, dancer or actor is more known than the magician. Come see the exhibit. I'm very proud of my involvement in helping the exhibits come to life.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 05/06/11 11:42 AM

Another good article on the Skirball Magic exhibits:
http://tinyurl.com/3r9tj4v
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 05/06/11 12:11 PM

Any plans for this exhibit to travel to other museums?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/06/11 12:31 PM

Yes, two other museums. San Francisco and Wisconsin.
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Postby houdini's ghost » 05/06/11 01:11 PM

Burt Sperber--
You should be very proud of Erin Clancey. She expresses herself on the subject of Magic History as well as anyone I have ever heard.
That is, as well as anyone I have heard speak on Magic History--with the exceptions of those who were speaking about history they were part of--I attended Maurice Fogel's lecture, for instance.
I am determined to present "Houdini in Los Angeles" just as well as Erin Clancey has been presenting--in limited time and with no extraneous words--Houdini and some of his fellow Jewish magicians "of the Golden Age of Magic." Fortunately, the "Golden Age" has been upped to the late forties, so Marvyn Roy, Carl Ballantine, and Fogel are honored in the exhibit.
I wish I could have had a chance to discuss with somebody, when there was an opportunity to do something about it, my strong feeling that Theo Hardeen should have been included in the exhibit. Not even a photo. The Milk Can in the exhibit was Hardeen's. It was manufactured in 1928 so that Hardeen could perform his brother's Doublefold Death-Defying Mystery.
Hardeen taught Houdini his first magic trick.
There's a comic book with Blackstone on the cover in the exhibit.
I have a beautiful color brochure that is just a bit smaller and is signed by Theo "Dash" (very rare, he only signed "Dash" to family) to Joe Hayman, the Houdini Brother he replaced in the performance of Metamorphosis that would fit nicely in that spot.
Beautiful photo of Hardeen with a beautiful and rare inscription.
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 05/06/11 01:24 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Yes, two other museums. San Francisco and Wisconsin.

Great, I might even be able to make the San Francisco trip. Did they give a date for it?
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 05/06/11 04:46 PM

But isn't that just the Houdini exhibit that's traveling? The other exhibit at the Skirball, on Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age, is not part of that, correct?
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 05/06/11 04:51 PM

There other magicians besides Houdini? No way! :o

I'm pretty sure it's just Harry and the family that is on tour.
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Postby Tom Frame » 05/07/11 10:54 AM

Houdini: Art & Magic will be exhibited at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco from September 26, 2011 to January 15, 2012.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/07/11 10:56 AM

Only the Houdini: Art & Magic exhibit will travel. Hopefully in San Francisco the curator won't be cowed into removing any of the contemporary art because of external pressure.
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Postby Tom Frame » 05/07/11 11:05 AM

It's like Sodom and Gomorrah here. We aren't easily shocked, offended or repulsed. Someone will probably try to turn the exhibit into a musical.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/07/11 12:05 PM

Thanks Tom, now I have to get the echos of "I'm Just Wild about Harry" out of my head.
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Postby houdini's ghost » 05/07/11 12:52 PM

Richard,
It's a kid's show--at least the way they are selling it here.
I don't think there is a kid in Los Angeles who would be shocked at or overreact to that drawing--let alone San Francisco or New York. Let's see how they feel in Appleton.
I'm getting old, I admit, but, even today, you don't say "FU*CK" in a kid's show. Not in the afternoon, anyway.
Patrick
How'd this get onto a third thread?
Dustin, Rich, if you should combine these threads, please don't combine them under the "Bad Taste at the Skirball" thread I started. I ask you to ditch that tabloid headline, as the "Hey folks, they fixed it" thread brings the subject up to date.
I started it--actually a couple of different people in New York complained to me about it--and the pigeon [censored], I'd like to finish it.
I wasn't going to say anything about the Raymond Pettibon drawing, but, when I saw the place was full of kids, my kid show ethics kicked in.
Then, I made the observation that the Pettibon was in poor taste--more to the point, the person who let it go up when the exhibit was being assembled should have considered the family audience that was going to see it and now she has.
Not censorship, just kid show ethics.
Fixed.
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