Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

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

Postby Kevin Connolly » 08/24/12 11:53 PM

I just posted a very curious letter written by Houdini on my blog. In the letter, he writes about going to see an operation where a monkey's gonad is grafted onto a man and a woman. The letter shows a very different side to Houdini's personality to say the least.

Here is the link to the letter:

Houdini Monkey Gland Letter <---

If you are interested in magic history or Houdini, I think you'll enjoy this.
User avatar
Kevin Connolly
 
Posts: 2385
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: New Jersey

Postby JohnCox » 08/25/12 10:57 AM

This is WILD! I've linked to it and I'll be posting my thoughts over on the article itself. Already a very good discussion is being had, as one might imagine.

Killer stuff, Kevin. Thank you for sharing this.
User avatar
JohnCox
 
Posts: 853
Joined: 03/21/09 03:03 PM
Location: Studio City, CA

Postby David Byron » 08/25/12 12:02 PM

Some notes (also posted at Kevin's site):

The letter doesnt say nut and nuts as Kevin suggets. It says mite and mites. You can see this in the terminal e s and in the fact that the i is clearly dotted.

Houdini is indeed making a joke about the monkeys testicles, but his joke is a reference to the Parable of the Widows Mite ( ref). A mite is a coin of small value, and Jesus famously noted that even though the widow gave only a penny (so to speak), she gave more than everyone else because it was all she had.

To give ones mite became a common figure of speech more common a hundred years ago, to be sure for reaching deeply for charitable giving. Houdinis joke is that the donor monkey certainly gave his mite or his mites (wink, wink) in this case, since the particular glands may have been of minor importance to science overall, but were probably pretty important to the monkey!

Linked here are some examples of usage: the expression "to add one's mite" and the expression "add his mite to science".
User avatar
David Byron
 
Posts: 51
Joined: 07/22/09 01:37 AM
Location: Baltimore

Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/25/12 12:13 PM

I also thought it read "nuts," so thanks for the most scholarly correction.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
User avatar
Richard Kaufman
 
Posts: 20539
Joined: 07/18/01 12:00 PM
Location: Washington DC

Postby David Byron » 08/25/12 01:39 PM

Even if it doesn't lend support to the "Houdini said 'nuts' so he's not bashful/puritan/whatever" thesis, the letter still provides a fascinating glimpse into the kinds of ephemera (gonad grafting, reincarnation, etc.) that attracted his surplus attention!
User avatar
David Byron
 
Posts: 51
Joined: 07/22/09 01:37 AM
Location: Baltimore

Postby Kevin Connolly » 08/25/12 01:43 PM

Someday I'll post one of those erotic postcards Houdini bought in Paris to dispel the prudish side. :)

Right now I'll stick with the Gonad Game. :)
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
User avatar
Kevin Connolly
 
Posts: 2385
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: New Jersey

Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/01/12 09:39 PM

I just posted another "Monkey Gland" letter on my blog. It seems to ask more questions about what was going on than answers.

Monkey Gland Letter 2 <-- Click here

Enjoy!
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
User avatar
Kevin Connolly
 
Posts: 2385
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: New Jersey

Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/01/12 11:57 PM

This a crossover with the Sherlock Holmes story "The Creeping Man"?
Mundus vult decipi
Jonathan Townsend
 
Posts: 6637
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Westchester, NY

Postby JohnCox » 09/02/12 03:23 PM

Kevin, is there any letter in the file in which Houdini clearly articulates WHY he's making such an intese study of this procedure? He could be considering having the operation himself. But couldn't he also be studying this with a eye towards exposing it a medical quackery/fraud -- kind of an offshoot of his work exposing spiritualists and Rahman Bey types, etc.?
Visit my blog Wild About Harry
User avatar
JohnCox
 
Posts: 853
Joined: 03/21/09 03:03 PM
Location: Studio City, CA

Postby houdini's ghost » 09/02/12 11:47 PM

Listen, John, Kevin, but, it's an old Hollywood story that Houdini's fellow Hungarian, Adolph Zukor, the man who created the motion picture industry, is reputed to have had monkey gland transplants and--get this--he got older and older, he went blind and deaf--but he seemed unable to die! For a long time anyway. Monkey Gland transplants were very Hollywood. Shelley Winters said she was pretty sure she saw Errol Flynn get one.
houdini's ghost
 
Posts: 434
Joined: 09/24/08 07:23 PM

Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/03/12 12:13 AM

Not bad for Zukor living to 103. Someone get me a monkey!
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
User avatar
Kevin Connolly
 
Posts: 2385
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: New Jersey

Postby houdini's ghost » 09/03/12 01:13 PM

He was blind and deaf for many years, but, he still attended all the Paramount board meetings--I think right up to his death. His role in the creation of the motion picture business was enormous. He lived in the same neighborhood as Houdini--during a period when Houdini wasn't there a lot, they were both involved in Hungarian relief during WW1, and Houdini starred in two films for one of Zukor's production companies, Lasky Famous Players, which were of course released by Zukor's parent company Paramount Artcraft.
Kevin--
What do think about HH and Monkey Glands?
P.S. Did you say you wanted #26?
houdini's ghost
 
Posts: 434
Joined: 09/24/08 07:23 PM

Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/03/12 01:48 PM

My windy statements can be found here. Pack a lunch. :)

http://houdinihimself.com/?cat=3

Yes, I still want #26. :)
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
User avatar
Kevin Connolly
 
Posts: 2385
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: New Jersey

Postby Kevin Connolly » 09/03/12 02:36 PM

Timeout Pat! I may need #36! I'll call you.
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
User avatar
Kevin Connolly
 
Posts: 2385
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: New Jersey

Postby Banachek » 09/03/12 03:26 PM

Here are some articles on using transplanting glands from animals into humans, it appears it was quite popular

Monkey: http://voronoff.wordpress.com/press-coverage/

Monkey: http://www.topix.com/forum/afam/T5OET7C4NJ3VSGJ38

Goats: http://www.quackwatch.org/11Ind/brinkley.html
In thoughts and friendship
Banachek
User avatar
Banachek
 
Posts: 21
Joined: 11/29/08 01:58 PM
Location: Texas, USA

Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/03/12 04:07 PM

Guess it is Sherlock Holmes meets H. P. Lovecraft.
Jonathan Townsend
 
Posts: 6637
Joined: 01/17/08 01:00 PM
Location: Westchester, NY

Postby houdini's ghost » 09/03/12 08:11 PM

It says on my list Gary Frank bought #36.
But you told me to save #26 of the second printing for you.
At least I think you did.
houdini's ghost
 
Posts: 434
Joined: 09/24/08 07:23 PM


Return to Magic History and Anecdotes