The spirit of magician Harry Houdini failed to appear at the 87th annual Houdini Seance at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pa. The séance was held Halloween day at 1:26 p.m., the exact moment the legendary magician died on Halloween day in 1926.
Houdini lived during the era when spiritualism was beginning to emerge in the United States. The spiritualists taught followers they could communicate with the spirits of deceased loved ones through séances. They usually charged attendees large fees to assist them in making contact with their deceased loved ones.
Houdini, a master magician and legendary escape artist, quickly discovered the séances were nothing more than a sham. He spent more than 20 years exposing these phony mediums as con artists. Houdini believed magic should be used as entertainment and not to con people of their money with false promises of communicating with lost loved ones.
At the time of his death Houdini instructed his wife, Bess, to conduct séances in an effort to reach him in the spirit world. The year after his death, Bess Houdini conducted the first séance to reach her deceased husband who failed to appear.
“Houdini told her that if he, Harry Houdini, the greatest escape artist that ever lived, couldn’t escape the spirit world then it couldn’t be done,” said Dick Brookz of the Houdini Museum. “Houdini said ‘if I can’t escape from the spirit world then save your money. Don’t give it to these con artists and phony mediums.’”
The séance was a solemn occasion hosted by magician Dorothy Dietrich, curator of the Houdini Museum, and Brookz. Attendees gathered around the table at the museum and joined hands. In the center of the table were letters written by Houdini as well as a pair of handcuffs he used in his act and a photo of his beloved Bess. For more than an hour the attendees concentrated in hopes the legendary master of magic would return. After an hour the séance was concluded. The Great Houdini failed to appear.
Following the event Brookz and Dietrich entertained the audience with their own magic act. The annual séance is held to remind people of Houdini’s work and to educate people of the schemes used by unscrupulous mediums. Incredibly, while Houdini made tremendous efforts to discredit the spiritualists, modern mediums across Europe and the United States continue to bilk unsuspecting people.
Has the Great Houdini entered a realm from which even he could not escape?
“We will be back next year to do it again,” said Brookz. “And we will continue to do so each year.”