Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

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Kevin Connolly
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Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby Kevin Connolly » August 24th, 2012, 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.

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JohnCox
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby JohnCox » August 25th, 2012, 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.

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David Byron
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby David Byron » August 25th, 2012, 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".

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 25th, 2012, 12:13 pm

I also thought it read "nuts," so thanks for the most scholarly correction.
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David Byron
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby David Byron » August 25th, 2012, 1:39 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!

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Kevin Connolly
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby Kevin Connolly » August 25th, 2012, 1:43 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. :)
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Kevin Connolly
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby Kevin Connolly » September 1st, 2012, 9:39 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!
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 1st, 2012, 11:57 pm

This a crossover with the Sherlock Holmes story "The Creeping Man"?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby JohnCox » September 2nd, 2012, 3:23 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.?
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby houdini's ghost » September 2nd, 2012, 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.

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Kevin Connolly
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby Kevin Connolly » September 3rd, 2012, 12:13 am

Not bad for Zukor living to 103. Someone get me a monkey!
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby houdini's ghost » September 3rd, 2012, 1:13 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?

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Kevin Connolly
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby Kevin Connolly » September 3rd, 2012, 1:48 pm

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

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

Yes, I still want #26. :)
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Kevin Connolly
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby Kevin Connolly » September 3rd, 2012, 2:36 pm

Timeout Pat! I may need #36! I'll call you.
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Banachek
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby Banachek » September 3rd, 2012, 3:26 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
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Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 3rd, 2012, 4:07 pm

Guess it is Sherlock Holmes meets H. P. Lovecraft.

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Re: Houdini And Monkey Gland Transplants

Postby houdini's ghost » September 3rd, 2012, 8:11 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.


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