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This book could well be called The Unmasking of Harry Houdini. Was Houdini, as the long-standing myth begs us to believe, truly the world’s greatest magician? Did he communicate a secret message to his wife through a famous spirit medium?
Today there exists a century’s worth of books, movies and television documentaries that contribute to these widely-held beliefs. In a sworn document, Beatrice Houdini testified that the message delivered to her by medium Arthur Ford was accurate and that Houdini had successfully communicated from the grave. If you give credence to either of these claims, prepare to have your beliefs shattered.
By bringing together the opinions of those who actually knew and worked with Houdini, author William V. Rauscher has painted a most accurate portrait of this American icon. Some will argue that Rauscher has tarnished Houdini’s polished image while others will hail it as the most honest account ever written. William Rauscher’s long friendship with Arthur Ford puts him in a unique position to finally reveal the truth behind one of the 20th century’s greatest mysteries. . . Do the Spirits Return? SPECIAL OFFER: Order now and receive a beautiful color postcard of the beautiful dustjacket. Supplies are limited so don’t delay.
A PEEK INSIDE THE HOUDINI CODE MYSTERY
(For most of this century, modern day historians have told us that Harry Houdini was, at the very least, the greatest magician in America, and quite possibly, the greatest magician in the world. Author William Rauscher provides a different view of Houdini, as he was seen by his contemporaries. Reproduced here is a particularly vicious attack that was published and distrubuted by Harry Jansen, known to the world as Dante the Magician.)
The World’s Greatest Fakir, HOUDINI exposed by DANTE THE MAGICIAN
The object of the following remarks is to enlighten the American public on a matter of vital importance so that they may be more able to clearly think for themselves instead of being bombarded by an unscrupulous showman whose every utterance is for personal glorification and mercenary gain. A person who is molesting a creed that is not yet established and cannot hope to thrive without honest investigation.
First, he stole his name from the man who originated and made magic possible, Robert-Houdin. Then after rising from the ranks of a dime museum fakir, by gulling the public, he had the audacity to have a book written, The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, again with the object of glorifying Houdini. Harry Houdini gloats over the fact that he has written several books and pamphlets; the fact of the matter is, he is too illiterate to write anything. The press, in their honest efforts to gain knowledge, and at all times willing to publish facts coming from good authority, have unfortunately been hoodwinked, and millions of people are now reading articles regularly, with the impression that Houdini knows. All he knows is that his handcuffs, box escapes, tin can escape and other fakes used by him have petered out and in order to remain in the lime light, he picked on Spiritualism and stoops to expose the methods of others when he is really the imposter.
For twenty years he has traded on an unscrupulous public who have accepted him in good faith, undoubtedly confusing his devices with the work of a true Magician. A Magician admits his work is trickery. He presents his problems and lets you figure it out if you can. His problems are generally masterpieces of mechanical ingenuity or digital skill. A Master Magician must be an artist and the possessor of a personality. Thousands upon thousands of dollars must be invested upon his equipment. He must be a gentleman and of an inventive mind. Can Houdini lay claim to any of these qualifications? I say no.
And yet he would lead you to believe that he has forgotten more about magic than any man living today, and is merely setting it aside as parlor stuff. Houdini the escape King? What can he escape from? So far, he has escaped criticism. This is the biggest trick he has ever done. He cannot escape from a cracker box. I will put the simplest pair of handcuffs on him, strip him of his keys, and he will stay in them just as you or I would. I will build a box for him of the simplest construction, take away his confederates and place him in it and guarantee he will stay there just as he stayed in the Richmond Jail when Mgr. Wells had him arrested for being insulting in his usual manner. Nine-tenths of the handcuffs he receives in his performance are his own. The packing cases are mostly of special construction and nothing more than a trick box; and the committees that nail him are his own paid assistants. When at times he is forced to deviate from this routine, the box is tampered with and prepared for him. I will lock him in the simplest room and defy him to get out. The fact of the matter is, he will always dodge the issue of a real test.
I well remember in 1901, when a Chicago paper devoted a half page to his supposed dexterity in getting out of the Police Station, when the truth is, he never left the room of his hotel. But the day for fixing newspapers and police sergeants is past and he knows it. But the glory of Houdini must not be hampered, therefore Spiritualists become the innocent victims of this monster fakir who calls himself a mystifier.
In every community, we have honest, sincere, hardworking businessmen. We also find honest, devoted Christians. Wouldn’t it seem ridiculous to denounce legitimate business, or the Church of Christ, because of this condition? And yet, that is what this egotistical, money-mad fakir is doing to Spiritualism. It is almost laughable to think of this person having the audacity to associate his name with that of such high class, cultured gentlemen as Sir Conan Doyle and Sir Oliver Lodge; and naturally, we know the motive is merely propaganda, another excuse for getting his name in the papers, with no thought of seriousness or sincerity.
It is unfortunate that these men who are sincere workers in their efforts to enlighten the world should have to lend their names to protect and uphold their beliefs.
What I know of Spiritualism would fill many pages, and I frankly admit, as everyone knows, that there are many trading upon it. But to my mind, they are not half as bad as the man who endeavors to tear down honest investigation. I have lived in a haunted house. I have seen the apparition of a child who had been murdered, not knowing at the time that the crime had been committed. My wife and I have sat together in a room, and have seen manifestations that compelled us to find other quarters. I have felt the cold hand of unseen forces and admit that I have been baffled and can bring no proof to bare other than my immediate family. I admit that I have no means of causing these same manifestations to reappear, yet I believe there is something to the Spirit World far too deep for the human brain to fathom. I also believe that in time we will become more enlightened. Therefore, I say it is not fair for any one to corral, by unscrupulous propaganda, the minds of a free thinking people, and herd them into a corner by constant hammering that Spiritualism is fake. I do not believe in stage spiritualism, nor have I at any time seen a medium bring forth any direct communication with the dead, although my wife claims to have. A medium, to me, is no more necessary to communicate to the spirits for me than a preacher would be to convey my prayer. If I have faithin Christ, I believe that a direct communication can be established. But when a man has faith in no one but himself, sledge hammers the public to round them up, with the object of swelling the box office receipts, it is time that someone take the initiative and point him out, and this man’s chosen name is Houdini, really named Weiss, from Appleton, Wisconsin.
P.S. Should Mr. Harry Houdini see fit to answer this, it will tell me more about himself.