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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween, Houdini, and Holyoke

Halloween and Houdini seem to go together, and add to that, Holyoke.

An intriguing collection of Houdini memorabilia has been on display at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, Massachusetts for the last six weeks. The last day to see it is tomorrow, October 31st.

The items are from the famed Sidney Radner collection. Mr. Radner, a Holyoke native, was a magician himself who acquired the items from “Hardeen”, a fellow magician who was also Houdini’s younger brother.

In his vaudeville touring days, a 21-year-old Harry Houdini played Holyoke when he was first performing his escape from handcuffs in 1895. As he did in many communities for a publicity stunt, Houdini once escaped from the Holyoke jail under a challenge that he couldn’t.

Upon Houdini’s sudden death in Detroit on Halloween 1926, annual séances were conducted first by his widow, and then by magician societies around the country; Mr. Radner, before his death in 2011, presided over the Holyoke Houdini Séance.

Try to catch the marvelous exhibit at Wistariahurst before it disappears.

NOTE: Photo is from the Library of Congress collection, now in public domain.

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