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Sensational Tales of Mystery Men--Cover


Will Goldston
HTML version by Marko This version Copyright 1999--José Antonio González

CONTENTS (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:29 PM]

Sensational Tales of Mystery Men--Cover

An Introduction by Hannen Swaffer Foreword The Truth about the Zancigs The Tragedy of Hanco When G. W. Hunter dried up How Denny and Will Goldston escaped Gaol The Truth of Horace Goldin's Arrest The Cornells and their Ghastly Publicity Stunt The Strangeness of Lafayette Dante Perplexed Dante's Experience in Russia Muller the Mystic Was Chung Ling Soo Murdered? A Handcuff Escape that went wrong Ceeley and the Naked Lady Frank Van Hoven's Tragic Failure Frank Van Hoven and a Fellow Artist's Wife Frank Van Hoven--A Changed Man Wishart and the Dead Body Raymond and the Undertaker What Hannen Swaffer told the Magic Circle The M.P. who does Magic The Prince who stabbed his Partner A Foreword on Houdini Houdini My first encounter with Houdini Houdini and the Magical Illusions Houdini's Film Failure Houdini at the Palladium

Houdini at Manchester A Regrettable Incident The Houdini Packing Case Escape Houdini and the Unmasking of Robert Houdin Houdini objects to someone else's Boost. Did Houdini Fail? Is Houdini Earth Bound? Is Bessie Houdini a Cheat? Maurice and the Girl in the Car The Great Maurice and a New Illusion How Magic is accepted in Nigeria Murray--His Greatest Escape How Zomah delayed a Murder Carl Hertz--The Imitator The World's Cheapest Theatre Hertz and his Monte Carlo Syndicate Carl Hertz and the Bird Cage Harry Kellar's Search for a Successor Was John Nevil Maskelyne a Genius? The Mystery of my Resignation from the Magic Circle. David Devant--The Master Magician My Impromptu Act The Battle of the Pierrots My Cemetery Adventure An Error that cost £1,000 Will Goldston's Spy Service My Quickest Vanish A Confession by Will Goldston

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Sensational Tales of Mystery Men
by Will Goldston
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Dear Will Goldston, You have honoured me by asking me to write a foreword to your book. Frankly, I do not know what to say. It is usual, when such forewords are written, to pay some tribute to the character, or achievements, or personality of the author. As I am writing a preface and not a book, I must leave all that unsaid. As you know. when I think of magic, I think of your officean office where, whenever I visit it, I meet magicians, famous and struggling, some so clever that I always start to eat my hat before they make it vanish into air, some so little known that they tell me they sometimes read what I write. From the walls, there look down photographs and paintings and sketches of illusionists known right around the world. I see the faces of the great Lafayette, Chung Ling Soo, Houdini, Carl Hertz, John Nevil Maskelyne and Horace Goldin, men who have mystified me when I was younger, men who, when I grew to know them, seemed even more clever at close quarters than they were, far away upon the stage. Always, when I see those portraits, there is conjured up in front of me the spirit of Romance. I know that behind every one of those lives is a story of years of patient work. I know that, mixed up with their shows, there have been great moments of real drama. I know that in each life there has been some incident more striking than anything that the public has seen when they have paid to go in. When I read the proofs of "Sensalional Tales of Mystery Men," a great deal of those mysteries were revealed to me for the first time, and I saw, in cold, truthful print, explanations of many things that had puzzled me for years. My only quarrel with your book is that it is much too short. You could have made it ten time as long, and even then left me interested in every new chapter you wrote. When, quite casually, the other day, I talked with you and Horace Goldin, in your sales room, I saw on the counter a wooden box addressed to some missionary in a far distant village of the West Coast of Africa. Inside it was (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:30 PM]

pa/magos/books/goldston/intro. I am sure your book will find 1. who could have written the chapters which I have read. Your mind is a storehouse of entrancing memories. retired. or Magic. I remember Chung Ling Soo. In that little incident. of a great trade in Mystery and that. your book takes us behind the scenes of his tragic end.000 conjurers in England. Well. than did the witch doctors of the surrounding tribes. he has always been a mystery. I have presided over one of your dinners. of course. there are at least 1. the cheerful Scots-American.000. I shall write the whole book. though Julius has gone and his second wife has. so that a Christian preacher might mystify the native members of his congregation. were they ever printed with diagrams. when the missionary's box is opened. You have laid bare a great deal of that. and the mysteries reveal themselves from each printed page. Well. Your rooms are full of such possibilities.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:30 PM] . except yourself. would kill Magic. trembling at the door. as a vice-president of the Magicians' Club. me night. with a daring courage. You suggested my election. you have given us an idea of the humorous side of his character. for I do not know anybody in the world. They tell me there are 10. so gentle and kindly is your approach to men.Introduction one of your Sealed Books of Mysteries. this is only a little of what I wanted to say. Your Zancig chapter is most illuminating. as your illusionists always try to make me call it. Horace Goldin's solemnity and serious mien have often impressed me.000 readers. going thousands of miles. he hoped. Then it will not be nearly as interesting as yours. and the lock is turned. of which you are the head. Every time I enter your world of Magic. I realise more that you are the centre. I have addressed your gatherings. For that reason. HANNEN SWAFFER. was the making of a great romantic story. you are the custodian of a thousand secrets Well. once and for all.000 people who are fascinated by all that concerns Conjuring. amateurs and those who do it for a living. Houdini--well. If I go on. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. I wonder what will happen. and the clearing house. The Zancigs--their tricks will puzzle Mankind for Years. even more. Now.000.

This book is not intended to be an autobiography. WILL GOLDSTON. When I told Harry Houdini of my idea. I decided to write a book to be called Magicians I have Met. he asked me if he could use the title for a book of his own that was then nearing completion.html [4/23/2002 3:41:31 PM] . Since that time I have collected further valuable material. and this. and I decided long ago that I should never be one of the vast army of writers who inflict their uninteresting experiences on a patient and long suffering Most of the published life stories I have read have bored me to distraction. is published under the present title of Sensational Tales of Mystery Men. SOME years ago. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. together with some of the original stories. LONDON. To this I agreed.Foreword Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page FOREWORD. and told Houdini that I would delay the publication of my own work in order that our books should not clash.

Julius Zancig was a Dane. his father decided to put him into the iron trade. his hand was badly burned by a mass of molten metal. Zancig was invited to a gathering of Danish When he had learnt all there was to be known about smelting. It was one of the finest bargains he ever struck. for want of a better calling. but on his recovery he decided to drop his position in the factory for the less dangerous but more precarious calling of a professional http://thelearnedpig. he preferred the world to believe he was a Swede. A sound constitution pulled him through. In the course of carrying on his trade as an iron smelter. young Julius decided to emigrate to America where he thought he might stand a better chance of earning a living. I have neither the space nor inclination to do so. but the originality of their turn brought in a few requests for charity meetings and semi-professional concerts. But in view of the public interest aroused by Zancig's recent death. It was about this time that Julius met with a terrible accident which eventually proved the turning point in his life. After a short courtship he proposed marriage and was accepted. but for some reason best known to himself. IT IS not my intention to set down a detailed life story of Julius Zancig. I feel that a few words on his humble start in life and his meteoric rise to fame will not be out of the friendship had been dropped in the manner so common to such child affairs. and.The Truth About The Zancigs Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE TRUTH ABOUT THE ZANCIGS. There he was startled to meet a deformed lady whom he had known many years previously in his native land. He was born of humble parents. Shortly after his arrival in the United States. and for many weeks he lay seriously ill. Her loneliness and extreme poverty touched Julius heart for the second time in his brief life. Agnes--for such was the lady's name was of a gentle and retiring disposition. The Zancigs started their thought reading act when requested to do a small show for a Church Brotherhood Society.html (1 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:41:32 PM] . but as young Julius had grown into manhood. Their first programmes were very simple. Having no musical ability they hit on thought transference as being something novel and distinctive. For a time they had been sweethearts.

The latter attended a special demonstration.The Truth About The Zancigs thought That test was duly held. Zancig's turn was no better than a score of other thought reading acts which were touring the States at the same time as himself. "Certainly. "We cannot do it. http://thelearnedpig. Their first appearance was at the Alhambra. Even when he was earning huge salaries at the best theatres in America. and thought it had some connection with physic or medicine. and mentioned them to Hammerstein of New York. "Would you submit to a private test in my office?" I asked. At first I did not understand it." he replied simply." Zancig once confided to me. "I prefer to say nothing." "Tell me why you became so famous. The magician saw possibilities in the act. I owe it all to Lord Northcliffe. was much impressed.html (2 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:41:32 PM] . doing thirty or forty shows a day." he said. T. in particular. "Psychic--that is the word which has made my fortune. it was "just my luck. It was a marvellous boost. He took one glance at the words I had written. as he had always done. Stead. and decided that the extraordinary couple from America possessed genuine psychic powers. The Zancigs worked at Hammerstein's Winter Garden for several months. and from that moment the pair were made." On one occasion I asked him if he was really psychic. I wrote a number of common Hebrew words on slips of paper and handed them to Julius asking his wife to spell them out. London. They went to Coney Island. but eventually decided to undertake a tour in England. and then handed the slips back to me. He must have saved an enormous amount of money during his lifetime. "It is just my luck. and on the following day the "Daily Mail" (Lord Northcliffe's newspaper) was filled with columns lauding the extraordinary powers of the Zancigs. This performance was witnessed by Lord Northcliffe and W. As he said." he replied." I had never heard it until Lord Northcliffe used it in connection with my work. and a press show arranged by Goldin proved a wonderful success." he agreed. His lordship." What a confession! But it was the simplicity and frankness of his nature which marked him as a man out of the he lived." I asked. and it was here that Horace Goldin discovered them. It was probably the only one at which the Zancigs completely failed. in quiet and humble surroundings. Stead concurred in this view.

He found a lady called Ada. Julius was able to convey to his wife exactly what sort of object or design had been handed to him. The pair worked on a very complicated and intricate code. I will believe in you. http://thelearnedpig. This second partnership was never as successful as the first. Zancig's name was." Julius was agreeable. The fortunes of the Zancigs progressed by leaps and bounds until the death of Agnes caused the act to come to an untimely end. With Zancig's death. the Zancigs were approached by a reporter from one of the London dailies. Long and continual practice had brought their scheme as near perfection as is humanly possible. a huge draw at any time. Julius was despondent about his reception and told me he intended to return to America forthwith. Julius however. He would simply pass on to another member of the All their various tests were cunningly faked. On several occasions confederates were placed in the audience. There was never any question of thought transference in the act. A press demonstration arranged by an astute publicity manager proved a fiasco. nothing if not persevering. and they were labelled failures. By framing his question in a certain manner. and their methods were so thorough that detection was an absolute impossibility to the laymen. It often happened that Julius was handed some extremely unusual object which he found impossible to convey to his wife. and at such times the effects seemed nothing short of miraculous.The Truth About The Zancigs I thereupon persuaded him to tell me his secret. "Zancig. including representatives of all the leading British newspapers. of course. Shortly before the performance was due to begin. The return visit of the Zancigs to this country started badly. decided to find another partner to carry on the work of his late wife. for he had nothing to lose and much to gain." said the enterprising young man. who consented to marry him and to cooperate in the thought reading act. giving him my word of honour I would not betray it during his lifetime. but reports from America indicated that Ada lacked something of the ability and showmanship of "But if your wife can tell me the word written on the card inside this sealed envelope. "We may save the situation yet. Let me arrange another press show for you at the Magicians' Club.html (3 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:41:32 PM] . and so quick was his work that the omission was rarely noticed." I urged. Eight hundred guests were invited. I believe you're a fraud. the ban of silence is removed and I have no qualms in putting down the story as Julius gave it to me.

in a public Julius always said that I had taken a very rapid and comprehensive understanding of his work. http://thelearnedpig. he could only stand and goggle inanely at the performer. It has been said that Julius Zancig was never happy with his second wife. which I received from her shortly before going to press. That sponge was saturated with alcohol. only confirms my opinion. for it seemed to me that after laudibly performing his public work for so many years. Julius had no difficulty in reading through the covering. I am grateful that they have done Julius this honour. There were some rather odd things said about me. CALIF. and the middle West. I may add that I was not in the grades. I am printing the letter without the slightest alteration. Ada was a faithful and loving wife. I am making quite a collection." returned Julius motioning his wife to the far side of the room. and did not hesitate to show me off at the highest class affairs here or elsewhere (not meaning theatrical work. This is absolutely untrue. Ocean Park. My dear Mr. as most people are aware.The Truth About The Zancigs "Let me see the envelope. I am in receipt of your kind letter and also of the newspaper sheets for which I thank you.html (4 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:41:32 PM] . a spirit which. for I have also received some well written articles in this respect from several magazines and papers here in New There can be little doubt that the incident of the envelope and card did much to help them in their struggle for lost fame. When Ada spoke the secret word. Goldston. and the following letter. so I'd rather not be considered an idiot. those in the profession should honor him at his passing. "It's marvellous!" he cried. but failed to see him press the envelope against a sponge concealed beneath his armpit. makes paper transparent. but had a college training as a specialist in the teaching of Young children. 1929. The reporter watched him closely. being but a school teacher but these in America are considered rather brainy. The subsequent public show was a huge success. almost intimating that I had no brainy capacity at all. BOX 36. September 17. the reporter was astounded. New Jersey. and the Zancigs found themselves on their old pedestal of popularity. being put to such severe mental tests before entering the profession. And when the envelope was returned to him sealed and fastened as it had left him.

pa/magos/books/goldston/01. in the honor they are paying him. and most truly appreciate every word that is said in his praise. and since his going several men have tried to get me to join them in the same line of work. and as I kissed his brow in the last farewell. and although he was genial and often merry. I am running the business here alone for several weeks. so they will not conflict with me. but there can be only one Zancig in that field worth while. and I have several pupils at work learning the Mind Reading act. for we wanted to hold on to him. but at a distance. must have been glad to welcome him to her side. and I know he must be enjoying a glorious freedom from pain. but I have refused. and it is a sad closing to me.The Truth About The Zancigs but very elegant home or club affairs of the wealthy and refined). Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. and I was one. They clamour to share the title. (Signed) ADA F. He was a brave soldier to the very last breath. Agnes. ZANCIG. I felt truly that a brave and talented man had gone. and a fine rest with some congenial companions of the past. I miss him more than I can say. after all the years of separation. I am still getting kind letters of condolence from many parts. for it would not be the same to me ever again. These I am collecting for the closing chapters of our notable scrap book. Many regret that he allowed the operations. and I welcome them all and feel very grateful.html (5 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:41:32 PM] . I am. giving private readings and selling occult books and other things pertaining to our work. His wife. and I am getting on very as I have said. Most gratefully yours. the pain was more than he could bear. having had a very successful season.

when Harry Houdini was startling the audiences of two continents with his amazing escapes. Hanco walked into my office. He explained to his audiences that he was an ex-convict.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:33 PM] . a new star arose in the firmament of magic. I was never more surprised in my" "But where are you going?" I queried. Hanco had been madly in love with his assistant. His little speech always won the sympathy of the audience. He had been granted an early release in view of his. and I realised that the young man was in earnest. dramatically.The Tragedy of Hanco Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE TRAGEDY OF HANCO. together with the cleverness of the escapes." was the curious reply. "The newspapers will tell you soon enough. "Whatever for?" I asked. and as he left my office. and the prettiness and agility of Hanco's lady assistant. And gradually the sordid story came out." Hanco replied. and told me he was giving up his act." Hanco's barrel escape was the best trick in his act. you can have it for two pounds ten. something in the style of Houdini himself. who did some wonderfully clever escape tricks." "You are wrong. He sold up his act. and this. always ensured a good reception for the act. with nothing to do. and had decided to make an honest living. "There is a great future before you. and had learnt all his tricks whilst in gaol. Hanco always appeared on the stage in the garb of a convict--a simple. and then. One day towards the end of the year. IN but exceedingly clever piece of showmanship. In less than a week I read in the newspapers of his suicide. he again assured me that he wished to keep his future destination secret. "I have no future. and he became insanely jealous. But Hanco was young. That was the last time I ever saw him. good conduct. This hitherto unknown conjurer was a young man called Hanco. Liverpool. http://thelearnedpig. He had stabbed himself to death at his lodgings in Seymour Street. moped and worried The girl tried to console him. I closed with his offer. "If you would like to buy my barrel effect. extremely puzzled.

he picked up the carving knife from the table.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:33 PM] ." he told the girl. As he spoke. and stabbed himself to the Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page Tragedy of Hanco "I am going to teach you the lesson of your life.

On this occasion he more than met his match! The man who agreed to assist him was a bluff. I might add--and he always asked someone from the audience to assist" "Whereabouts?" "In Lipton's shop window with a lemon in your mouth!" The audience roared at the smart piece of repartee. G. "This is a very clever trick. Some years ago many of the leading provision and grocery stores were in the habit of exhibiting the head of a huge pig with a lemon in the mouth for the Christmas displays.W. and so on. who seemed the ideal man for Hunter's purpose. I suppose you have never seen me before. Hunter felt very small. HUNTER DRIED UP." he said. What the exact purport of this was I cannot say. One Christmas season. http://thelearnedpig. turning to the man. have you. Once he had got his victim on to the stage. but it certainly added a touch of humour to the shop windows during the festive season.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:34 PM] . This he did by the well known tricks of moving his chair to different parts of the stage. BEFORE telling you the following amusing story of one of our great comedians. W. advising him not to fall over. As part of his turn he had to perform some card tricks--he was no mean conjurer. "You've seen me before? Are you sure?" "Yes. Hunter. which went mostly against the volunteer. he always raised laughter by making the volunteer look small. Hunter Dried Up Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page WHEN G. I should explain a custom which seems to have died out in recent times.When G. hearty looking Scotchman. W." was the surprising reply. After a certain amount of cross talk. "By the way. "Of course I have. was performing in a pantomine at Glasgow. Hunter invited him to take a seat. the well known comedian who has since retired from the

Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig.When G. he was laughed off. and it was some considerable time before the audience had sufficiently recovered to listen once again to his clever quips and gags. When next the comedian appeared on the stage. Hunter Dried Up and the scene was finished there and then.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:34 PM]

" My visitor handed me a packet of of striking appearance." I said. I am booked for a week at the Putney Hippodrome from next Monday. when the whole series of illusions would be ready. He was shown to my room. Do you think you could attend the dress rehearsal on Sunday. "I want you to build some illusions for me. But to my astonishment I found the tricks to be exceedingly clever and original. One effect. I have just come into some money. and asked him to call again in a few weeks' time. ONE fine Spring morning. Denny hastened to add that he would have everything ready for me. in which a woman was to be produced from a box hardly big enough to hold a baby. He came at the appointed time and expressed his full approval of the way in which I handled the work. Mr. and readily agreed to his proposal. and looked more like a well-to-do business man than anything else. "Mr." Although it was not my habit to work on Sundays. and told my secretary that he would like to talk over some private business with me.How Denny and Goldston Escaped Gaol Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HOW DENNY AND WILL GOLDSTON ESCAPED GAOL. taking the seat that I had indicated.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:35 PM] . some twenty years ago. and I want everything to be in apple-pie order. Goldston. was particularly good." he said. Denny told me that he had thought this would be a suitable trick to close his act. for I had never previously heard of him. I thought this too good an opportunity to be missed. I agreed to undertake the work. "I think the tricks are very good. Denny. so that I should http://thelearnedpig." was the reply. "It would be a pity to spoil them through lack of good workmanship. a stranger walked into my and introduced himself as Charles Denny. just to supervise the preliminary working of the illusions? I will pay you £50 for the trouble. "As a matter of fact. which will enable me to have tricks constructed from my own ideas. and doubted whether he had the ability to think out an effective illusion. which I scrutinised carefully. He was a quietly spoken individual." "I quite agree.

for at the moment I was too agitated to reply. "What about a sail on the river before we go back to the theatre?" Denny suggested. "The girl!" I looked about me. and when I arrived at the Putney Hippodrome. After lunch. As I was congratulating myself on earning the easiest £50 of my life. and set off at a spanking pace in the direction of Hammersmith. and chose a comfortable looking boat. and was only too willing to fall in with my suggestion. I locked her up before you arrived at the theatre. we hoisted our sails. which we thought would suit our purpose. The fresh river breeze was delightfully cool after the town air. but to our tortured minds it seemed that we would never reach land." I ignored his last remark. and I've forgotten all about her! It's your fault for suggesting the lunch. telling me that it might otherwise slip his memory. http://thelearnedpig. We may be in time yet. Let's hurry back. Telling the boatman we should probably be out for an hour or so. "Good heavens. We must have covered the distance in record time.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:35 PM] . although I had not yet started on the rehearsals. and I rested back on the cushions feeling at peace with the whole world. a startled exclamation from my companion caused me to turn my head. and two pairs of oars working at top speed." We turned the prow of our small craft towards Putney. "The girl in the box!" "Box? What box? I can't see a box either. with all sails set. for he had already put in two or three hours' work. "I think it's really too warm to start work just yet. The conjurer was hot and tired. "Good God!" gasped Denny. we headed for the boathouse. The following Sunday was extremely hot. "I don't see a girl." I replied. don't you?" We walked along the river side. "What's wrong?" I asked." "My assistant! You remember the illusion in which I produce her from a foot square box? Well. He insisted on paying me my fee there and then. "The girl must be dead. the weather seemed to get hotter than ever.How Denny and Goldston Escaped Gaol be saved as much trouble as and. I suggested to Denny that we should take a cold lunch before we settled down to business. man!" I cried at length.

But Denny would not hear of it. Against my advice. no doubt assuming that the intense heat had affected our sanity. We brushed past the astonished doorkeeper of the theatre. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. I urged the necessity of trying through the new tricks at least once before the public performance on the morrow." The poor girl was lying in a huddled heap in the secret partition of the box. for every second gained might be the difference between life and death to the unfortunate assistant. and hurried through to the wings. I can honestly say that I have never run harder in my life. " She's dead. the treatment proved effective. we drew up by the landing stage. and Denny took one look inside. in the centre of the stage. But." he said. his face as white as a sheet. and it was soon apparent to both of us that we had arrived just in time. the conjurer decided he would do no more rehearsing. stood the box. We splashed her face with cold water. ominously still and silent. There. In an instant Denny was on his hands and knees. We ran along the riverside as fast as our legs would carry us. but otherwise none the worse for her unpleasant adventure. but had been unconscious for some considerable time. and fanned her with our coats. "I've had enough for one day. "For God's sake hurry!" I said. with Denny's help. pale and shaken. however. Goldston. The lid sprang open. mopping his perspiring brow." he said. "Thank God!" said Denny. She was not dead.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:35 PM] .pa/magos/books/goldston/04. Then he turned towards me. Those two words were more expressive than any speech I ever heard. "It's no good. I managed to get her out. excitedly. and in a short while she was sitting by our sides. fumbling with the To our relief.How Denny and Goldston Escaped Gaol At last. People gaped at us with open mouths.

"I'm real sorry about this. SOME years Although he must have felt extremely tired. but in order to enable him to travel about the city and keep his numerous engagements to time.The Truth about Goldin's Arrest Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE TRUTH OF HORACE GOLDIN'S ARREST. and it was well after three o'clock in the morning before he was able to get away. complete with negro chauffeur. there was a good clear stretch of road ahead. What'll I do now?" http://thelearnedpig. Whether his business had been particularly good or not I cannot say. "Goldin--Horace Goldin. One night after his show. and knew he would have to see the matter through." The policeman lowered his pencil. he decided to purchase a new car. Horace was asked to attend the farewell dinner to The Great Kellar.html (1 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:36 PM] . and obeying his master's injunction to "step on it. Although the speed limit in this certain part of New York was fifteen miles an hour. who is doubtless the greatest magician in the world to-day." he said. To say that Horace was annoyed would be putting it mildly. Mr. and on this occasion he invested in an extremely expensive and speedy He waited in moody silence as the policeman produced his notebook and pencil. my friend Horace Goldin." the chauffeur soon had the speedometer needle pointing at thirty-five miles an hour. he was never a man to hurt another's feelings if it could be avoided. I wouldn't pinch you for a barrel of bucks. I know of no finer judge of an automobile than Goldin. But he had been caught fairly and squarely. Goldin. But they had not gone very far before they were sighted and overtaken by one of the many "speed cops" that abound in the city. "Wasyername?" asked the upholder of the law. He accepted the invitation." "What! Not the conjurer?" "Yes. was performing at Hammerstein's Roof Garden in New York. "Say.

he turned towards the negro. You see Mr. I can't do that. "I can't accept bail from you. But the magician had quickly devised a scheme whereby he could be released from custody. "Come. "Bail of hundred dollars until to-morrow morning will cover and Goldin knew it. The inspector listened in silence while the policeman made his statement. and the charge was made out. Here was a pretty kettle of fish." Horace bit his lip in perplexity. "That'll do me. and gave the chauffeur instructions to follow the policeman to the station." The negro's eyes opened wide." suggested Goldin.The Truth about Goldin's Arrest "You can let me go. boss!" he ejaculated. Rastus. "The inspector wants a hundred dollars." he added as an afterthought." he said. The inspector waved his offer aside with a contemptuous gesture. Tell you what. You must pay it for me. He offered to leave this. the magician returned to his car." replied the inspector. Arrived at their destination. the inspector's seen me approach you. "I know very well you've got a big pile of notes in http://thelearnedpig. I ain't got nothin! " The chauffeur was speaking the truth. But you'll have to come to the station. "That's no good." he said. Goldin." he said." Seeing that any argument would be useless. "I ain't got no hundred dollars. The magician turned to his coloured chauffeur who had followed him into the station. Then he turned to Goldin.html (2 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:36 PM] . But suddenly a brilliant thought struck him. together with a valuable diamond ring which would more than make up the full amount of his bail. It must be somebody" he said. "Now then. You were doing a good thirty-five. Secretly palming the wad of dollar notes in his own pocket. "Fo' Heaven's sake. "What if my chauffeur paid it? " he asked. and I guess I'll have to make a charge. "That's just it. Horace was taken before the station inspector. Rastus. you know. "I'll say you were doing twenty-three. If the money was not paid it would mean that he would have to spend the night in an uncomfortable police cell. They'll let you off light for that. Now Horace had only ninety-eight dollars in his pocket. nothing if not practical.

and counted them in silence. boss. and wonderingly produced the two dollar note. Pay it to the inspector." said the bewildered Rastus. by dint of much" As he spoke. "Sure. "There's only ninety-eight.html (3 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:36 PM] . boss. Give the gentleman two more dollars. "Quite right" he agreed. "I wants every buck of it." exclaimed the negro." This was a development for which Horace was quite unprepared." The chauffeur did as he was bidden." Again Goldin's magical art came to the rescue. "Ninety-eight dollars.He stopped short as his fist closed round the wad of notes that Horace had placed there a few moments previously. Pay my bail." he said. and managed to extract a two dollar bill unseen. I saved it all." he said. "Well." "It ain't no good. boss. "Yo's taken all I got." said Goldin. I guess I wants all this. Just feel in your pockets and find out." http://thelearnedpig. he persuaded the chauffeur to hand the notes over to the inspector. "Say. Rastus." But Rastus was not to be so easily deprived of his unexpected find. Just a hundred" "I knew you had. However. Rastus. and we can be on our way home. "Get ahead with it. and let us get home. he pulled the other towards him by the lapel of his coat." "I'm certain you have. there's a good chap. I tells you I ain't got one buck. The latter took them without a word of thanks. grinning. He ran through the pile quickly." Rastus grinned." he said. I ain't got nothin'. "Now then. "I sure didn' know I had dat." he said. "Just give it to the inspector. "I shall want two more before you can go." "Rubbish. let 'lone a hundred dollars." "But boss. yo' sure is mad. Yes. and a promise to repay the money in the morning. boss. I guess I must--" "That's alright. boss." he went on as the negro stared stupidly at him. and I wants it for something ver' special. yo' sure is crazy. boss. Yo's taken all my savings for somethin' ver' special."-. "Let me count them. inserting his hand into his coat pocket. Feel in your pocket again. "I tells yo. and quietly inserted the pile of notes into the chauffeur's pocket. I'm --. pleased at the success of his scheme.The Truth about Goldin's Arrest your pocket. and we can get home. there's a good fellow.

That's common sense." "I see. But. of course. I suppose you overtook him rapidly on your motor bicycle." The magistrate agreed. On the next day Goldin appeared in court. pleased at this compliment on his professional ability. although." "Good. "How did you know that Mr. if you were travelling faster than the car. Goldin was travelling at twenty-three miles an hour?" "By my speedometer. with costs against the prosecution. "How fast was Mr.The Truth about Goldin's Arrest The money was paid over. didn't you?" "Oh yes. and Goldin was handed back one hundred dollars. At length the case was called. he had only parted with ninety-eight. That was the speed it registered.html (4 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:36 PM] . But the comedy was not yet ended." said the policeman. sir. He always says that no money has given him as much satisfaction as those two dollars he made out of the New York police force! Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. Goldin must have been doing a good deal less than twenty-three miles an hour. then Mr. he returned to his Goldin travelling?" "Twenty-three miles an hour. and proceeded on his way at a leisurely fifteen miles an hour. and the policeman appeared in the witness box to make his sworn statement. Receiving final instructions to attend at the court early next morning. and briefed a very capable attorney for his defence. "Tell me. and Goldin was handed a receipt for a hundred" said the counsel. sir.

"What is it? " shouted Cornell. whilst others informed the river authorities. a couple who had met with moderate success." Some of them went to fetch policemen. I can see them now. the plan misfired. who was sitting blindfolded in the centre of the stage. and made as though to fall from her chair. gave a piercing scream. and it was here that they decided to put their idea into operation. and are hastening away. They had obtained an engagement in a small hall in the Chicago suburbs. Driven to desperation. playing the part of the distracted husband with no mean ability. they concocted a great publicity scheme. and battered his face in. found their bookings dropping off alarmingly. motioning her partner to keep his distance. for roguery and debasement far exceeds any other story I have heard. two American thought Her words created great excitement amongst the audience. When the Zomahs were touring America. they are putting weights in." Here she gave the exact location of the scene she was witnessing. but the plan of the Cornells. "They have dropped the sack into the water. and several people rushed from the building to the spot she had described in her "vision. Yes. and they became so famous that imitators experienced the greatest difficulty in obtaining engagements. "I have seen a murder! Two youths flung themselves upon an old man. and unfortunately for the couple. They are tying his body in a sack. Now they are on the banks of the river. Madame Cornell. http://thelearnedpig. The Cornells." And with these last words.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:37 PM] . Fortunately for the good of the profession.The Cornells and their Ghastly Publicity Stunt Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE CORNELLS AND THEIR GHASTLY PUBLICITY STUNT. Madame Cornell rolled off her chair in a well simulated faint. The performance was stopped. For several hours during the night. It was an eerie scene by the river "What do you see?" "Away! away!" cried the woman. During the performance. SOME artists will go to drastic lengths in order to secure publicity. their fame spread with lightning rapidity.

In the early hours of the morning. It was the mutilated body of a man. Somebody disclosed the whole despicable a bulky sack was retrieved from the depths. It was a well-thought-out plan which. and dropped the gruesome bundle into the and the crowd gathered round with an air of suppressed excitement. Happily for us. but for the fact that they had to take others into their confidence. The Cornells received more publicity than they needed. having disfigured it beyond recognition. might well have succeeded.The Cornells and their Ghastly Publicity Stunt the water was dragged. however. and nothing brought to light.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:37 PM] . Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. such people as the Cornells are few and far between in the profession. But they drew away when they saw what the sack contained. and. sewed it up in the sack. It was the wrong sort of publicity. The police hurriedly opened it. The pair had purchased the body from a mortuary.

"That is Lafayette's" I tell them. He proved to the management of the Holborn Empire that he was worth every penny of the £500 a week he demanded." I reply. "Who is that man?" they ask. And then perhaps their eyes will wander to a long sword in a glass case hanging on the wall above my head. Lafayette was the most hated magician that ever lived. and probing into your innermost secrets.The Strangeness of Lafayette Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE STRANGENESS OF LAFAYETTE. Edinburgh. Age has darkened it somewhat now. "It was found on his charred body on the stage of the Empire Theatre. you feel they are piercing you through and through." they say. Many of my visitors resent this silent examination. and running it at a huge profit. He was unsociable to a point of rudeness. and he passed it on to me. made him so intensely unpopular that he was http://thelearnedpig. There is something queer about the face. his chin resting on his left hand. it wears an expression difficult to describe. CALLERS at my office often become interested in a life size portrait in oils which hangs opposite my desk. "Lafayette. So I tell His constant refusals to meet his brother conjurers. but it is still a picture that commands attention. but time and again. and it was for this reason that he was universally disliked. They hang at extreme ends of the room. both here and in America. I have noticed people glance unconsciously from one to the other. his eyes gazing thoughtfully into space. It is curious how the subconscious mind seems to connect the sword with Lafavette's portrait. This is strange when one recalls that it was he who established the first class illusionist as an artist worthy of a high salary. by taking over the theatre himself for a fortnight." "Tell us the story. You become uneasy under the steadfast stare from those searching eyes. It was given to Harry Houdini. It shows a slim. middle aged man with pince-nez.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:37 PM] .

and started life originally as a scenic artist. He drilled his assistants like soldiers and demanded they should salute him in the street. he became very friendly with a young and pretty lady whose husband knew http://thelearnedpig. and well he lived up to it. A man who does all these things. but it was doubtless his position as a scenic painter which first gave him the idea. the more I love my dog. He bought a diamond collar for his dog. I considered him quite mad. Only those who saw the latter two in their heyday can realise how great a compliment this is. When Lafayette was performing in that town. As an illusionist he was It was this animal whose portrait was on all the magician's cheques and theatrical contracts. and. no doubt. I have never learned how he came to adopt magic as a profession. But the ability to stage a sensational illusion does not necessitate a knowledge of real magic. I have always been convinced that Lafayette was too scared to meet his fellow illusionists." Lafayette was a great booster. He paid all his accounts by cheque. He was something of a pugilist too. that he picked his illusions with such discriminating taste. and resorted to the most irritating form of publicity that has ever been brought to my notice. "It must be spectacular" was his motto. His dog "Beauty" was his greatest weakness. and as a showman I rank him in the same class as Houdini and John Nevil Beauty's portrait hung outside the house with the following quaint inscription beneath: "The more I see of men. rather than demonstrate his appalling ignorance of the profession of which he was so eminent a member. complete from soup to sweets. It was due to this fact. pure and simple. I repeat. showy curtains. He was clever enough to build an entirely different programme from any other magician of his time. A special bathroom was built for the dog at Lafayette's house in Torrington Square.The Strangeness of Lafayette greeted everywhere with the most utter and open contempt. Inglish of Chicago found out to his cost. and caused them to be stuck on the exterior and interior of the public lavatories of the town in which he was appearing. His act was typified by gorgeous scenery. as a certain Mr. he preferred to keep his company to himself. and it was in this manner he made his reputation. and at night-time the animal was served with a regular table d'hote meal. He had his name and photo printed on a number of small sticky labels.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:37 PM] . That is putting it mildly. It was this knowledge which Lafayette lacked. no matter if the debt was only a penny. He has been called eccentric. and loud and soul-stirring music. He was a mechanical illusionist. must be mad. His knowledge of true conjuring was negligible. Lafayette came from German stock. This foolish proceeding did him far more harm than good.

on May 9th. Lafayette always insisted that the "pass door"--the small iron door which leads from the stalls into the wings--should be kept locked during his performance. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. We can well imagine the gentleman's There is little truth in this story. Such are the trials of a wronged husband! How many people know the truth of Lafayette's death? Not many. sitting at a table with the great magician. Before he could make his way to the other exit.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:37 PM] . For the moment. Inglish. when he entered a restaurant and saw his wife. therefore. he rushed to the pass door to make good his escape. "I'll see about it.The Strangeness of Lafayette nothing of the affair. and then returned to save his white horse. it was charred beyond recognition. and cost him his life. He was burned to death in the disastrous fire at the Empire Theatre. Inglish collapsed. and on recovering was asked what he meant by assaulting so eminent a client as Lafayette. is it?" thought Mr. which was still inside the building. What actually happened was this. he had forgotten it was locked by his own orders. 1911. "What do you mean by taking her out to dine without my permission?" Lafayette made no reply. whom he imagined was appearing as a manequin in a fashionable dress parade. and." He approached but hit the unfortunate man a terrific blow on the point of the jaw. overcome by the fumes. It was a foolish stipulation. "So this is what she does. he fell unconscious to the boards. When his body was recovered. I can wager. When the fire broke out on the stage. and tapped him on the shoulder. It was the easiest way of settling the dispute. "Do you know this lady is my wife?" he demanded. It is popularly supposed that he made good his escape. the stage was a raging mass of flames and smoke. not in the least disturbed. This he did in order that no intruders should discover the secrets of his illusions. Edinburgh. "Is that so?" returned Lafayette.

He was perplexed to notice a very powerfully built. IT IS not often that magicians are puzzled.Dante Perplexed Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page DANTE PERPLEXED. After he had given his last show. smiled across at Madame Dante. eh? Could yo' vanish me like dat?" "" http://thelearnedpig. there was a tap at the door. Show him was considerably puzzled when appearing at Proctor's Theatre. "'Scuse me. "The mystery man himself. and threw himself without invitation into an armchair. Their business is to see that what to them appears simple must remain a matter of mystery to the uninitiated public. sir. boss." The negro entered. early in 1919. "What woman?" "Dat woman on de stage. "Say. and mentioned the matter to his wife. But Dante. This in itself was strange enough." he said. you mean the vanishing lady trick. "Where dat woman go?" "Woman?" asked the conjurer. As they were discussing the affair." "Oh. shabbily dressed negro occupying one of the best stalls in the theatre. "Well?" asked Dante. George." "Magic. there's a nigger downstairs says he wants to see you on very important business. Dante had occasion to use the "run down"--the small bridge from the stage which gives a performer access to the stalls." smiled Dante. the conjurer returned to his dressing room. and the call boy entered. During his performances. the well known American magician. the mystery became deeper still.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:38 PM] ." "Aha. She vanished by magic. New York. but when the negro appeared in the same seat at every single performance.

" "Is it a negro?" "Yes. "The Vanishing Lady Trick." Here followed a somewhat heated argument. stock and barrel. He was anxious to get to business." was the quick reply. "Good afternoon." returned Dante. anywhere. "I have got a customer for you. Dis young man tell me that if I buy yo' trick fo' thousand dollars. looking extremely dejected and downhearted. he still wants one. "What can I do for you" asked the magician." "That's right. We can fleece him easy. and I can offer you a thousand dollars. The young man escorted him to an old wooden shack where his prospective client was sitting staring at a small stone which he held in his hand. Perhaps you can run down with me." "Well I saw him last week." cried Dante. But I didn't make one for him. But I'm sorry I couldn't make one for you. I told him my price was six hundred dollars in the ordinary way. lock. "See. He wants to buy the illusion. boss?" "No. "Dis here's a magic stone. The negro finally took his departure. "He'll believe anything. It's an exclusive secret. I can vanish any time. "Good afternoon. but Dante was adamant." He turned again to the nigger. It will only take you five minutes.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:38 PM] . "I'll not be party to any swindle. "What do you want to vanish for?" he I'm acting for him. here Boss. Only on the stage. yo' must make dat vanishing trick fo' me." "You dirty dog." "How much you charge to make me one like dat?" "My price would be six hundred dollars." the young man whispered to Dante." " Then he held the stone up for the magician's benefit." Still extremely perplexed." said the dusky one. and rubs dis stone for thirty nights. a very flash young man called on Dante. It's a special stage illusion. "Are you going in for bootlegging?" http://thelearnedpig. Dante consented to visit the negro. boss. I got plenty of money." He produced a chequebook.Dante Perplexed "Yo' could vanish me anywhere. The following week.

Dante Perplexed "Mebbe "I can't vanish you--nor can anyone else.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:38 PM] . You keep your money in your pocket. Sambo. mebbe no. But in any case I wants to vanish. It's safer there than anywhere boss." Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig." Dante turned to the door.

towards the end of 1928. As it happened. They were spacious and scrupulously clean. WHEN Dante was performing at the Casino Theatre.Dante's Experience in Russia Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page DANTE'S EXPERIENCE IN RUSSIA. Buenos Aires. Russia is not America. "I need hardly say that I hope your engagement with us will be a great success. they did not altogether meet with the conjurer's approval. We prefer to treat you as Russians rather than foreigners. your family. He was met at the station by a well dressed and extremely courteous official who addressed him in perfect English.html (1 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:40 PM] . After the usual exchange of He seemed delighted to renew the acquaintance. and your assistants will have the best we can offer. I must ask you to overlook one or two small matters of personal comfort which may disturb you. he was approached by a German syndicate with a view to making an eight weeks tour of Dante. Four days further travelling brought him to Moscow. He located the house after some difficulty. Dante only stayed there a few days. and was immediately shown the rooms which had been set aside for his disposal. At that time the Conjurer was working with the Howard Thurston Road Show. and although you will not be restricted in any way. As regards accommodation--yourself. and proceeded to the address that had been given him. "Mr. but owing to the musty atmosphere and the decaying condition of the walls and ceiling. The stage manager of the first theatre at which the company had been engaged proved to be a Russian dancer who had met the conjurer some years previously in America. together with the salaries of his twelve assistants and the cost of moving his twelve tons of sceneries and baggage. It takes getting used to. However. I believe it will be. and he was offered a thousand dollars a week. and insisted that http://thelearnedpig." Dante thanked the stranger for his courtesy. The offer was too good to refuse. "You will find the food different from that which you eat in your own country. the man drew Dante to one side and spoke to him in a low voice." he said. and Dante took the whole company across to Germany in order to sign up the contract.

But you rarely get something for nothing in this world. The rooms were excellently furnished. and were the outcome of a new and wonderful science which was not yet properly understood. The theatre itself was spacious and well kept." Apparently magicians are a novelty in Russia. and there was to be no charge for rent. It is interesting to note that during the many weeks he spent in the country of the Soviets. And such was his success that his stay in Moscow and Leningrad was prolonged for a further twelve weeks. On the opening night. In this spare time Dante mixed as much as possible with the people. The tricks. A few days after they had taken up residence. The conjurer was somewhat troubled by the fact that he could not speak Russian." "Don't worry. and consequently wondered how it would be possible for him to get his patter "over. even married women. who can explain things as the show proceeds. the flat was broken into. Perhaps this is because everyone is compelled to work. There are no signs of extreme poverty in Russia. he was left pretty much to his own devices. and Miss Dante and a young girl assistant were robbed of jewellery worth £100. Dante did not hear one hostile word against England. and was untroubled by official surveillance of any kind. the shops and the railway stations. outside professional hours. It must be borne in mind that the conjurer had a wonderful opportunity to study first hand the condition of the country. says Dante. for. I do not propose to set down a long account of Dante's adventures on his tour. Just talk English. The latter http://thelearnedpig. were performed by natural Rather do I intend to chronicle his views on the condition of affairs that prevail to-day in Russia. to say nothing of a number of valuable dresses. The story of Dante's first night reception seems worth while recording. He conversed with those who could speak English. not miracles. I will provide an interpreter.html (2 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:40 PM] .Dante's Experience in Russia Dante and his family should use a suite of rooms which was built into the he said. and endeavoured to find out the inner thoughts and ideas of the Russian mind. and the dressing rooms lacked nothing in the way of up-to-date accommodation. Some of the better class people will understand you." the manager assured him. In any case. Dante's performance caused a huge sensation. He frequented the squares and market places. the interpreter made a long and rambling speech in which he assured the audience that they were about to witness tricks. however. Dante was quick to take advantage of the other's kindness. The decorations were extremely artistic.

This system has the effect of reducing the http://thelearnedpig. and are few and far between. Meat and bread is only sold by ticket as in England during the war. and are not compelled to do more than four hours a day. This is because cars are considered an essential part of the old bureaucratic system. but it is possible to obtain better living conditions than this if one has the help of official influence. At the opening hour on the following day the cord is cut and the padlocks unfastened. The better class people buy at the Government shops--everything in Russia is controlled by the Government--whilst their poorer brethren resort to the markets which close at noon. who earn considerable salaries. The streets and houses are clean and well kept.html (3 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:40 PM] . In practice there is. the audiences are asked to take no notice of the pretty frocks and costumes displayed on the stage. for all members of the fair sex are dressed alike in coarse clothes cut on more modest lines than our own. The people are told that the Bible is a collection of fairy stories which have no bearing on man's after There is no such thing as "hanging round the stage door. Religion is at a discount. The ordinary male labourers do eight hours a day. and proceed straight to their homes. Horse flesh seems to be the staple diet in Russia to-day. for Russia knows no Sabbath. Theoretically there are no class distinctions in Russia. As soon as the shows are finished. and are the slowest workers in the world.Dante's Experience in Russia usually take on such tasks as laundering or selling newspapers. However." In Russia divorce is ridiculously easy for either sex. The Government allots one room to a family of four people. At the other extreme there are the navvies and similar types of manual workers. They work six days a week including Sundays. Those that are seen are usually connected with Government business. The shops are woefully understocked. One has only to sign a document and pay a small fee in order to gain matrimonial freedom. complete with cord and seal. There are no women's fashions. Marriage is just as simple. The people seem healthy and fairly well dressed. a sort of social scale headed by Government officials. In winter the rooms are well whilst the bread is black and sticky as though it had been made from glue. At revues and plays. and no person is allowed to purchase more than a certain specified amount. The shops are closed by officials who fasten the doors with a Government padlock. The Russians have no traffic problems to contend with. there still remain thousands of Russians who do their praying in secret. the members of the cast change back to their everyday uniforms.

Remarkable as it may seem. the Russians seem devoted to their offspring. most of them cripples. but the storekeeper had instructions to supply any of his goods free of charge if the customer was too poor to pay the official sum. locks. bolts. Many of the chorus girls with whom Dante came in contact begged to be told how they could make their way to Europe or the United States. he was informed that he could only be allowed one hundred American dollars for himself. Dante's baggage which should have been sent on direct. and warned that it would be extremely unwise to divulge any information. One day Dante called at a shop and asked to purchase a Bible. Dante's tour did not end as happily as it might have done.Dante's Experience in Russia number of illegitimate children in Russia to a minimum. One is apt to think that the marriage and divorce laws have had much to do with the abolition of these two evils. The whole of the company were searched on leaving the country in order to prevent them smuggling valuables across the border. The children seem healthy and happy and play together. This delay lost him two weeks' work for which he was never compensated. but. and all manner of cruel torture machines are to be found there. There is no sign of prostitution or free love. Last and not least. and the same amount for every member of his cast. The museums provide the Soviet Government with their finest form of propaganda. These unfortunate people tell of their sufferings as prisoners in the old days. but he was handed a note authorising further payment when he returned to Germany. It was explained that they were short of American money at the time. took twenty-five days to reach Berlin. He was told to present himself at the Russian offices of the German syndicate in order to receive the money which was due to him. and give them every care and attention. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. Chains. just as in other countries. Consequently he kept a discreet silence. He followed the directions that were given him. for some reason which he never properly understood. Many different and complicated appliances were for sale at a fixed price. In addition the museums are supplied with lecturers. was referred to another address. To his utter astonishment.html (4 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:40 PM] . He was told that the sale of all Bibles was prohibited. One cannot say how far their stories are true. He had been told beforehand that such inquiries might be made. and was surprised to find that he had arrived at a birth control These buildings are filled with the exhibits purporting to have come from the prisons of Russia under the Czar's régime.

"I've just arrived from America. THIS is the sad story of Muller the Mystic. are they?" "Apparently not. At first I did not recognise him. "Got a match? Thanks. A tailor will be too expensive. She'll be real proud to meet her poppa. Yes. but I know a shop where they can fix you up cheaply with a decent suit. the best thing you can do is to buy some misfits. "As for She's up in Birmingham and I ain't set eyes on her for twenty years. he walked into my office.Muller the Mystic Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page MULLER THE MYSTIC. Because he thought he ought to be earning bigger money than the provincial theatre managers would pay him. Clothes. He excused his return by telling me that he wanted my http://thelearnedpig. and his fellow magicians in England finally lost touch with him. Many people thought otherwise." I returned. Tell ya what I want to do. but he took me warmly by the hand and introduced himself. an impression on the gal." "That's right. He was only a fair second-rate performer. Are ya listening?" "Sure." I gave him the name of a good second-hand clothier. Muller called himself a first-rate conjurer." he said. Eight years ago. and had met with varying success in this country some thirty years ago. and he took his leave.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:41 PM] . myself amongst them. Get hold of this properly. Where can I get some suitings?" "Some what?" "Suitings. he emigrated to America. She will probably be on the platform to meet you. helping himself without invitation to one of my best Coronas. But an hour later he was back in the promising to send me a card from Birmingham. I've just come over. Wanna see my daughter. I'm gonna look real smart. unkempt individual with long hair and dirty finger nails. Ain't bad cigars these. I'm gonna make. Then I'd send a telegram to your daughter telling her what time you intend to arrive. a shabby.

" Two days later. he had white canvas spats. I'll pop in again before I go back to the States. "You're soon back. Politeness forbade me from telling the Mystic what I thought of his appearance." he smiled. and. S'long. in addition. I've sent off the telegram. What's been happening to you? You seem to have lost your collar." he agreed.Muller the Mystic opinion on his new clothes. was several sizes too big. "Gee. Thanks for a cigar. but the guardsman's cane which he carried only tended to heighten the pantomime "It's half way between here and Birmingham. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. He was attired in a pair of striped grey trousers. And as for that gal of mine. "Hello. His gloves were the best part of him. and a pair of brown shoes. dirty and dishevelled and minus his collar and tie." "Yep. but I have always suspected it was my cigars that were the chief attraction. and a patched frock coat which fitted only where it touched. I felt hot. She took one look at me and told me that if I was her poppa. so I'm off to the States next week. The top hat on his head was an echo of a fashion thirty years old. I suppose I ain't cut out for an English gent." I said. In the buttonhole was fastened a chrysanthemum of gigantic proportions. Muller was back in my office.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:41 PM] . "Glad ya like 'em--I chose 'em myself." I To complete the picture. so I threw it out the window. she wants her ears boxed. "Just what I think. Seems she took exception to my clothes. Gotta cigar?" And that is how Muller the Mystic's taste in clothes lost him a daughter's love. she didn't want to see me any more.

pa/magos/books/goldston/11. He was killed in his last trick on the second performance of a Saturday night. deriding cries of the sceptics asking me for a verdict of Accidental Death was returned. This illusion. on 23rd March. Let us examine the details of Soo's death. I have given the matter a good deal of thoughtful attention.Was Chung Ling Soo Murdered? Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page WAS CHUNG LING SOO MURDERED? CHUNG Ling Soo. Everyone seemed satisfied with this opinion. That man was none other than Chung Ling Soo himself! Suicide--the most ingenious and cold-blooded suicide that was ever planned! That is my theory. But I am just as equally certain that there was at least one man who knew what was about to happen on that fateful Saturday night at the Wood Green Empire." was extremely good. for Soo was a well-known figure throughout the world. Although he masqueraded as a genuine Chinese. I have no proof.html (1 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:42 PM] . 1918. for he was a magician of undoubted ability--an acknowledged master of his craft. known as "Catching the Bullets. The tragedy caused something of a stir in theatrical circles at the time. the famous Chinese magi cian. This is a fact which was known to very few people outside the profession even in his own native America. I feel that no harm can now be done in bringing my views before the public. I do not think so. I preferred to keep a discreet silence. But the facts are pregnant with suspicion. A few minutes later he died from internal hemorrhage. Chung Ling Soo's death was universally lamented. And because I had nothing to go on except a few abstract theories which fitted in with the rather queer circumstances of the case. Of course. he was in reality a Scotch-American whose name was William Elsworth Robinson. everyone except Will Goldston--and possibly one or two other people who knew more than they cared to disclose. That is. was shot through the chest on the stage of the Wood Green Empire. Was Chung Ling Soo murdered? No. At the inquest which was subsequently held. Already I can hear the mocking. and I am convinced that not one of the enemies which I knew Soo to possess would have been clever or unscrupulous enough to have planned such a terrible crime. and he had performed it on http://thelearnedpig.

of course. a friend of mine who must remain nameless. and it was seen that Soo had apparently caught the two bullets on the plate. supposing that the rifle barrel had been deliberately opened. But it had not been shattered by the bullets. The bullets had disappeared as strangely and as mysteriously as http://thelearnedpig. I repeat. He had. And. A fraction of a second after the assistant pulled the trigger. I found nothing. As my friend entered the dressing room. On the fatal night everything seems to have gone wrong. They were carried back to the stage by a lady assistant.html (2 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:42 PM] . The assistant took careful aim with the rifle and pulled the trigger.Was Chung Ling Soo Murdered? hundreds of previous occasions without the slightest hitch or difficulty. Soo then took several steps up stage and held the plate to his chest. whose hand was responsible? Again. At the same time a faint click was heard. However. merely dropped the marked bullets on the surface of the who handed them to Chung Ling Soo concealed beneath the rim of a plate. I offered to pay £1 for each of the marked bullets when found. Was this by accident or design? There is no doubt that Soo would never have been shot had the rifle been in its usual condition. and was broken on the stage. have been done during the first and second performances on the Saturday night. This goes to prove that the magician had not held the plate over his chest according to his usual custom. I have no proof. Soo pitched forward on his face with a cry of "My God I You've shot me!" The plate fell from his and apparently handed to a male assistant who placed them in a rifle. and wishing to rid myself of the many uneasy suspicions in my mind. This fact takes on an added importance when one considers that any damage done to the rifle must. I must trespass on the good nature of my readers in order to furnish a brief explanation of the working of the trick. shortly after the news of Soo's death had reached me. Two live bullets were passed to the audience and carefully marked. happened to call on Soo in the interval between the two performances. I should emphasize the fact that the rifle which was used had a specially sealed barrel in order to minimise the possibility of an accident. And what of the marked bullets--those which should have been caught on the plate? I made a personal search of the stage and auditorium of the theatre on the following Monday. The bullets placed in the rifle were duplicates. he found the magician toying with the rifle. Thinking I might have overlooked them. Nobody ever claimed the reward. Had he done so it must inevitably have been shattered. Why had Soo suddenly become so careless? An examination of the rifle after the tragedy revealed the fact that the sealed barrel had been opened. In reality the live bullets were retained by the girl.

Not long before the tragedy. 4. Soo walked into my office in Green Street. which. point definitely to suicide. 2. I little thought I had seen the last of a man whose dramatic death. In this special case. was to startle the whole of England. and told him so. the better I shall like it. I think it will be generally agreed that I have outlined a pretty strong case against an accidental death. "I'm paying off all my debts. On the night in question. He cleared up all his business affairs before his death. this was a task which was allocated to a male assistant. Not even the most violent lunatic would take his own life from sheer blood-lust. I had replied in a non-committal manner. The sooner I get things straightened out. Here again the magician departed from his usual mode of procedure for no apparent reason. Chung Ling Soo was worried by domestic troubles. 3. taking a chair. "Good morning. Why had Soo been so anxious to settle his liabilities? There you have my theory with regard to Chung Ling Soo." he explained. http://thelearnedpig.html (3 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:42 PM] . In conclusion. as briefly as I can put it. Will. The gun which killed him had been tampered with. I might add that I never expected the bullets to be recovered. 1. As the door closed behind him. But no suicide theory can be considered complete unless a motive is supplied. I would like to tabulate the various points in the case. But he did not appear to be in the least disturbed. On the Thursday before he was killed. Soo loaded the rifle himself. I guess it's just about time I got all my affairs in" He paid his account. the motive was not lacking. "It's like this." he As I have already explained. Soo had asked my opinion on a domestic affair which was obviously worrying him a great deal. and helping himself to a piece of chocolate. Lastly there was Soo's strange settlement of all his debts. and took his departure. The details I have so far described are consistent with a deliberate and well schemed suicide (I have already indicated that the theory of murder cannot be accepted). I was convinced that they were in poor Soo's body. for I was not anxious to be concerned in affairs that might adversely affect my professional reputation. two days later. He was shot on his last performance on a Saturday night.Was Chung Ling Soo Murdered? if they had never existed. to my mind. "How much money do I owe you?" I thought this an unusual greeting.

Soo himself loaded the rifle which fired the fatal shots. 7. The marked (real) bullets which were used in the trick were never found. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig.Was Chung Ling Soo Murdered? proving that Soo could not have held the plate before his chest according to his usual custom.html (4 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:42 PM] . Soo himself was seen handling the gun a few minutes before his The plate was not shattered by the bullets. 6. 8.

I have a pair of handcuffs here.. hastened out to keep the appointment. interlocking the manacles before fixing them round the balustrade.A Handcuff Escape that Went Wrong Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page A HANDCUFF ESCAPE THAT WENT WRONG.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:43 PM] . and I was able to return to the office. My curiosity was The important call banished all thoughts of the clergyman from my mind. Mr. The voice of a man with whom I was doing an important business deal answered me. I took this precaution in order that my visitor should have as little space as possible in which to move his wrists. an elderly clergyman called at my office. Could I meet him immediately? He had a fresh idea to put before me.. I took him to the staircase landing outside my office. early in March. However. http://thelearnedpig. and in his hand he held a brown paper parcel tied neatly with a piece of coloured May I show them to you?" Without waiting for a reply. he did not leave me long in doubt. He was a well dressed. and fastened his hands behind him.. There did not appear to be any trick in them. I walked through to my office and picked up the receiver." he said. and asked to see me on important business. and the subsequent meal and talk did not serve to remind me of him. "I believe you are a friend of Houdini. Perhaps I could join him at lunch at the Trocadero in five minutes. An hour and a half had elapsed before my business was concluded. He had no time to waste. 1918. but this I knew would not prevent him escaping providing he had the necessary ability. and I told him I should be pleased to see a demonstration. At that moment an excited ringing of the telephone bell attracted my attention. To this he readily agreed. Goldston. and exposed a pair of handcuffs built on the regulation police pattern. for I did not recollect seeing him before. and I pride myself that I can escape from them quite as quickly as Houdini or any other professional escape artist. ONE day. pompous looking gentleman in the middle fifties. I remember wondering what his business could be. "And in that case you must know something about handcuff escapes. he undid his parcel. I replied that I could. picking up my hat. and. I examined them closely.

it must be the padre!" I was right. "Don't forget you're a clergyman. and others were hanging "Oh. "What the dickens can that be?" I thought.A Handcuff Escape that Went Wrong As I mounted the stairs. what was left of the balustrade. "What the blankety blank have you done with these blank handcuffs? You've fixed the blankety things!" "Hush. picking up his hat. unlocking the handcuffs. or rather." "And don't you forget I'm a human being! Set me free. "I thought you could escape like Houdini.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:43 PM] . heavens. It would have taken him just two minutes. sir." "Grrr!" he mumbled. as he caught sight of me. "Hi you! Goldston!" he screamed. a terrific clatter and banging greeted me. and perspiration was pouring down his forehead." I returned. He was still fastened to the balustrade. Several of the supporting rods had fallen to the floor. not a little surprised at the warmth of the other's language." I said. and he heaved and struggled as though trying to break the hand-rail in twain. he fled down the stairs. His feet slithered continually over the floor. blank you!" "I'm sorry. The poor man's collar had burst Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. And.

and the last button enabled her to discard the Britannia dress when her show was finished. He went on to explain that he wanted a pretty girl assistant who could do some quick costume changing for him." He thanked me for my advice. I suggested that he would do well to insert an advertisement in a professional paper called the "Stage. "Er-well. I'll send her along for the fittings. a Belgian soldier. she's got nice hair?" he replied guardedly. the British uniform would collapse. http://thelearnedpig. Will. IN THE early days of the war. She was by no means pretty. By pulling the first button. and lastly that of the British Tommy. then the Belgian uniform. promising to let me know the My assistant measured her for the three costumes. Each costume was to be fitted with a different shaped button attached to a hidden and took his leave. but had a beautiful mass of auburn hair that stretched below her waist. She's a real peach-the very girl I wanted.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:43 PM] . and explained how she would have to work them. The next button left her as Britannia. a magician known in England as the "Great Ceeley" walked into my office. old man. he cried: "I've got her. He had arranged an illusion in which a girl was to appear in the dress of a British soldier. leaving her dressed as a Belgian soldier." On the following day the lady in question presented herself. The girl agreed that the instructions were quite simple. and Britannia. "I'd like you to fit her up with the costumes. and told me that he needed advice. I urged the necessity of trying the effect over in my rehearsal rooms in order to avoid the possibility of a mistake on the stage. and said she would call in a week's time. First of all she had to put on the Britannia dress. A few days later he again came to see me. when the costumes would be ready." "Is she good to look at?" I asked. Pointing his thumbs to the ceiling. all within the space of a few seconds.Ceeley and the Naked Lady Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page CEELEY AND THE NAKED LADY.

Ceeley and the Naked Lady On the day of the appointment. "That's good.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:43 PM] . For a few seconds there was a deathly silence. It so happened that there were three or four other theatrical gentlemen in my office at the time. and the girl walked in dressed as a British soldier. Then we all made a blackguard rush for the door. and Ceeley invited them to see the rehearsal. and stand at attention as a Belgian soldier. and every stitch of clothing had fallen from her! Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig." I told her." I cried." We took up our positions in the rehearsal room. Ceeley himself called with his assistant. She had pulled all three buttons." "Righto. " you must pull the first leaving the poor girl standing in the middle of the floor. "Go ahead. "Now--pull!" She pulled--and stood dutifully at attention. The girl quickly changed into her costumes--they fitted perfectly--and I went over the instructions once again. She did her posing well." said the lady. "When I say 'pull'.pa/magos/books/goldston/13.

" was the encouraging reply. practised until his arms ached. Nor was this to be wondered at. Again Jenson. the World's Greatest Bottle juggler." returned Van Hoven. If you're really interested. He gave the ambitious youth several http://thelearnedpig. he attracted the attention of a professional conjurer named Jenson. in the intervals of serving peanuts. "I guess you'll have to make a lot of money to pay for all the bottles you've broken. not a little puzzled by the other's amateurish antics. FRANK Van Hoven started life as a peanut seller in the fair grounds of America. One day. But the fact remains that he never held the same job for more than a month on end. "Trying is the right word.'" "I'm glad to hear it. "So you're trying to be a juggler?" said Jenson. But one of these days I am going to make my fortune at this game. was willing to help. give a conjuring performance than he decided to give up juggling in favour of magic. That he was not a success in this simple walk of life is no reflection on his character. You can put a mattress down. who has since become famous under the stage name of Dante. and duly presented himself at the theatre.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:45 PM] . "I haven't got the hang of things yet. You'll see my name in the lights over Broadway--' Frank Van Hoven.Frank Van Hoven's Tragic Failure Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page FRANK VAN HOVEN'S TRAGIC FAILURE. That'll save you the trouble of sweeping up all the broken glass. No reasonable employer could be expected to retain a youth whose chief hobby seemed to be smashing bottles. The truth of the matter was that Frank had decided to become a bottle juggler. you had better come and practise on the stage at my as he was swinging his bottles through the air. and the bottles won't break. He accordingly bought up all the empty bottles he could lay his hands But no sooner had he seen Jenson." Van Hoven was delighted to have somebody take an interest in his efforts. and. and leaving the broken glass in untidy heaps around his stall.

After his first show. but as a turn to raise the laughs he's great.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:45 PM] . "In fact. The idea was taken to America by an English conjurer named William" he told the manager. and told him to purchase some cheap apparatus from Roterburg of Chicago. together with the tricks he performed so badly. Van Hoven would have won it hands down. "That's the rottenest act I've ever seen. By such small things can a man be made. who gave him several important bookings. But Van Hoven was nothing if not ambitious. It is true that he managed to obtain several engagements. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. He managed to obtain an engagement at a small picture theatre in the New York suburbs. and decided to take his chance. Frank's slogan--The Man Who Made Ice Famous--was first suggested by myself. and decided to use it as his own. The theatrical agent mentioned his name to Hammerstein. His turn in which the four boy assistants were made to perform all sorts of nonsensical absurdities. and. and told him there would be little hope of success in the capital if he had been a failure in the small towns of the Middle West. himself was using. the manager invariably greeted him with the phrase "You're fired-beat it!" And poor Frank. strongly advised him not to do so. From that moment Van Hoven never looked" It was about this time that Van Hoven adopted the slapstick programme which eventually made him famous. he saw the magician's performance. Frank decided to go in for laughter raising rather than rabbit producing. was bundled unceremoniously into the street. It was the luckiest thing he ever did. As a conjurer he's a flop. Van Hoven saw Hillier's performance. quite by chance. and even went so far as to steal his tutor's patter. he's so rotten that he's really good. Hillier. At last he decided to try his luck in New York. But Van Hoven was either lacking in imagination or else was extremely ungrateful.Frank Van Hoven's Tragic Failure lessons in magic. Jenson. If a prize had been offered for the world's worst conjurer. was declared to be the funniest thing America had seen for years. the variety magnate of America. He purchased the same tricks that Jenson. It so happened that an important booking agent dropped into the theatre on business. but he never gave more than one performance at each theatre.

This is not quite true. Van Hoven was performing in vaudeville at Chicago. be without interest. Nothing ever worried him much. why don't you get rid of her--divorce her." "If you can't do anything with her.Van Hoven and a Fellow Artist's Wife Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page FRANK VAN HOVEN AND A FELLOW ARTIST'S WIFE. "It'll turn out alright in the long run. to use Frank's own words. FRANK Van Hoven was a kindly "I don't mind." Subsequent events usually proved him right. There were occasions when his generosity astounded even his closest friends. "You don't know my wife.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:47 PM] . Some unkind folk have described him as the luckiest magician of the two continents. and it was soon apparent to all behind the scenes that it was this good lady who really "bossed" the partnership. "getting it pretty rough. "I've got no money http://thelearnedpig. In This particular man performed in a double act with his wife." came the sharp retort." "You can tie a can on that stuff. but her decided views on the rights and privileges of a wife did not tend to increase the happiness of her sadly misunderstood husband. "Gee!" replied the other. Frank was a great philosopher. As an assistant in the double act she was admirable. pulling a wry face." he would say when things went wrong." Connubial bliss was at a discount. I have known occasions when his luck was anything but good. It's easy enough. One day Frank called the man aside and boldly asked him why he allowed his wife to make his life so miserable. One of the other artists at the theatre was. Although there is not the slightest doubt that Dame Fortune took a kindly interest in him throughout his lifetime. I think. and many of his less fortunate fellow artists have been grateful for his brotherly assistance." "But why don't you put your foot down?" "She's the only one who does that. The following little story of his concern for the misfortunes of a fellow artist may not.

she follows like a dog. But you can't keep a pushful woman down. "She's just a big packet of trouble. When next we hear of her." "Suppose I give it to you? "What!" "Suppose I give you the money to divorce your wife?" "You mean that? "Sure. I'm becoming the laughing stock of the profession. From the day he contracted his unwise marriage. she's too hot for me." "God bless you then! It seems too good to be true!" And that was that. she'll be over the 'phone to me.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:47 PM] ." So he took my fatherly advice and found another wife! Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig." he told me in describing his bride. [ No reflection is intended on the lady who was divorced according to the Laws ruling in the United States of America. Whenever I go out. and the divorce was carried through. after many months of unhappiness. If she can't see me. Frank duly found the necessary money. for a short time the wife fades from our picture. " I visit some friends. she comes and drags me home again. Night and morning she's at my heels. she is he found himself a free man. And so. I go to the Club. his life was one long round of misery.Van Hoven and a Fellow Artist's Wife for that. ] It was a happy day for the little vaudeville artist when. but I guess she's hanging somewhere around. Frank Van Hoven! But even the genial Frank was no match for the fiery lady.

I want to place a big order with you. Now. Mr. lighting innumerable candles with an endless supply of matches. I hastily swallowed the remainder of my breakfast and took a taxi along to Leicester Square. Frank Van Hoven had called and would like to see Mr. and I took it as no small compliment that he should visit me so shortly after he had arrived in this country. and assisted him with his purchases to a waiting taxi. "What the deuce do you want?" It was the secretary in my office. For some time we discussed various Mutual friends in the profession. He wasn't in? Well then. I made no remark. however. It was. spilling water over his assistants.. perhaps the secretary would ring up Mr." He proceeded to choose a large number of illusions which he intended to take away with him." I cried as I took up the receiver. "Hello. "By the Goldston and tell him to step along." said Van Hoven suddenly. therefore. Goldston. The conjurer simply went through his usual foolery of smashing up ice. about these tricks. To my utter astonishment he picked on tricks that were suitable for the crudest amateurs. you might drop into the Finsbury Park Empire to-night. in no pleasant frame of mind that I left my eggs and bacon to answer the impatient ringing of the telephone bell one spring morning fifteen years ago. and so on. and I'd like you to be there.Van Hoven a Changed Man Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page FRANK VAN HOVEN--A CHANGED MAN. Goldston right now. THERE is nothing more annoying to the average Englishman than a disturbance at his breakfast table. I'll take some of the stuff now. And in case I forget.. But again I was in for a surprise. Mr. http://thelearnedpig. simple effects that delight the average schoolboy. he would wait. He wanted to see Mr. "I've heard a deal about you in America. Van Hoven wanted to talk big business. I naturally assumed that Van Hoven intended to use the tricks in his performance that same evening. I'm giving my first show in England.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:47 PM] . My feeling of annoyance had given way to one of genuine pleasure. Van Hoven's reputation had preceded him from America.

" he said. he paid me a very pretty compliment. "I know you are disappointed." Truly a strange confession for a professional magician! Poor Frank! His life was something in the nature of a tragedy. extending my hand. "Ladies and gentlemen.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:47 PM] . He explained that he had bought a certain number of books and illusions from me that very morning. You have seen my performance you know it for a ridiculous burlesque. Mr." He added a few words in praise of myself that I should blush to repeat. and told them how pleased he was to receive such a magnificent reception on his first appearance in England. "How's the show going?" Van Hoven looked at me without smiling. But when I first started as a magician I determined I would get those tricks." he said to me." he said in a broken voice. Frank. As a matter of fact. "Another time. he walked through to his dressing room. Goldston. although in his own form of entertainment he was a wonderful success. he was called on to make a speech. "They are lying beneath the stage now--I don't suppose I shall ever have the opportunity of giving a public performance with them." he murmured in a voice so hushed that it was difficult to hear exactly what he said. http://thelearnedpig. a few minutes later. Van Hoven and I became great friends. I can still recollect the pathetic speech he made at the Magicians' Club. "Hello. Incidentally." That day never came." I said. His cheery personality soon endeared itself to the members. "But I meant what I said out there on the stage. He walked out from the wings accompanied by a man whom I recognized as an old assistant I had sacked for dishonesty. "I'm afraid I'm too busy to bother with you just at present.Van Hoven a Changed Man At the end of the performance. And now my wish is realised. "They are tricks that I have always wanted. His one ambition was to be an illusionist. "this is the only occasion in my life I have been honoured. I incline to the belief that he put himself down as one of life's failures. he was cast by the hand of fate into the role of a jester. With the passage of time. Goldston. I don't know a damn thing about magic. he was presented with an illuminated address and silver casket. But I hope from the bottom of my heart that the day is not far distant when I shall be able to show you a genuine magical performance. I called on him at the Victoria Palace. One evening. and before he returned to America. turning on his heel. in his dressing room." And. He thanked the audience for their great kindness. That's one of the greatest sorrows of my life.

"Exactly. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig." I said. My mother died recently. Poor Frank. but I believe I've become religious. It's amusing for a time. And it was not until a year afterwards that an explanation was forthcoming. a rotten life. shaking him warmly by the hand. isn't there?" He looked at me with something akin to tears in his eyes. "Sure. but it's a shallow life. "Forget it. you know what sort of a chap I am. I had not the courage to break in on his thoughts. I felt strangely sad. I've led a pretty racy life up to now. "Will. His first action was to offer me a further apology for his conduct. I had never made any public statement which might have been at all damaging to his reputation. My secretary intimated that I was too busy to see him. he walked into my office. Frank. haven't I?" "Well. "These little upsets in life often happen. There's poor Houdini--he's gone." Such a statement was entirely untrue. Will? At any rate. I'm sure there's something in religion. That was a sad blow to me--she was a great woman. "Life. and told me the whole story. To receive a public rebuff from such an old friend was a great shock to me. It appeared that my ex-assistant had told Van Hoven that I had described him as "the rottenest conjurer in the world. Women and wine. accompanied by a lady friend.Van Hoven a Changed Man To say that I was surprised would be stating things mildly." He leaned back in his chair. Inside three months he was dead. for it takes no small amount of courage for a man to lay bare his soul to another." I assented. I'm changed completely. Van Hoven called on me. Later the same day he called alone. Don't laugh at me. and I found him strangely changed. In November. I only saw Frank on one further occasion after The deaths of Houdini and my mother have affected me more than any man will ever guess. Although I had no illusions as to the American's magical ability. wrapped in contemplation. er--a trifle Bohemian. Will. Twelve months later. 1928. I wonder what it all means. At last he spoke again." I said slowly.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:47 PM] ." My companion's gaze rested on a photo of Houdini which hangs above my desk. it's a funny thing.

It would be difficult to imagine a more unnerving and revolting experience. but by far the most extraordinary story I have heard was told me by Wishart. "Hello. The landlady told him that she had no room vacant at the moment. yes there is. he was shown to a room which gave him every satisfaction. "We've come for the corpse." he cried. "Corpse? What corpse?" "The corpse in your room. There's no corpse in he found the bed both roomy and comfortable. and leaving his bag. I will set down the story just as Wishart recounted it to me.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:49 PM] . somewhat annoyed at the manner in which he had been awakened. My own unpleasant and discomforting experiences in this direction would fill volumes. When Wishart returned later. she would be pleased to show him a room that might be suitable." "You've made a mistake. "What do you want?" The knocking ceased." http://thelearnedpig. he went into the town to get a meal before the evening performance. You must let us have it." "Oh. but if he cared to call again in an hour's" a voice replied. the well-known conjurer and entertainer. The landlady was as good as her word. and soon dropped off into a heavy sleep. When he came to Dowlais. Wishart was touring the theatres of South Wales. His slumbers were disturbed early on the following morning by a loud knocking on the door. for he was able to fix up at the very first house at which he called. It happened in this manner. EVERY theatrical artist who goes on tour knows of the great difficulties to be experienced in finding suitable lodgings.Wishart and the Dead Body Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page WISHART AND THE DEAD BODY. On retiring for the night. he congratulated himself on his good luck. This arrangement suited the conjurer admirably.

Please go away and let me you have made a mistake. "It was in the bed until you came along yesterday.Wishart and the Dead Body Wishart rose from his bed and unlocked the door.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:49 PM] . but I need hardly say that he never slept another wink in the house. sir" said one of them as an afterthought." They entered the room and pulled aside the low counterpane which lay across the bed. "The corpse is beneath the bed." The two men who were standing in the passage told him that it was he who had made the mistake. "There is no corpse in here. and for a few moments was too dumbfounded to speak. "I tell you. Lying on the floor was the body of an old man! The conjurer's thoughts are best left undescribed. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig." be said angrily. Wishart could hardly believe his eyes.

Raymond and the Undertaker Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page RAYMOND AND THE UNDERTAKER." he grinned. "I know I shall be a success. Poplar." I said. hoping he would make a hurried exit. http://thelearnedpig. Raymond walked into my office and told me that he was playing on a percentage basis at the Queen's Theatre. for every conjurer worthy of the name knows that one of the first rules of his business is to convince the onlookers that his apparatus is quite genuine. "If you don't satisfy them. But promise me you will come down--I'd like you to see the act. The wood was cheap and thin." One Monday morning just after the war. I must admit. Consequently he did not meet with the success he otherwise would have done. like Alfred the Great who burnt the housewife's cakes through inattention. THE Great Raymond is an American magician.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:49 PM] . and secretly I admired Raymond's pluck in bringing it before a hard-boiled English business afterwards. I guess there'll be a big crowd. His motto was "Pleasure first. It was obviously artificial." I suppose you know they're a pretty rough crowd down Poplar way. this in itself was bad enough. On Friday I'm having a special night. "The rougher they are the better I shall like them. Raymond had other interests in life besides magic. for I was busy with other matters." he I arrived just as his turn was due to begin. But." "That's all right. I'll be there. It's been well advertised. When the coffin was brought on the stage. to make matters worse. and I'd like you to come down. the theatre was packed on the following Friday evening. I was struck with the crudeness of its design." I told him. and I have issued a challenge." "Righto." I said. is not without a certain amount of conjuring ability. As Raymond had predicted. "I wish you luck. "Thanks. and was given a seat in the front row of the stalls. I'm doing a new coffin escape that's the absolute goods. But. they'll make things pretty uncomfortable for you. who.

I managed to tell the audience that I was a representative of Jones & Howard (hoping fervently that no such firm existed). "I'm an undertaker in Poplar. and screw me in the coffin I should feel greatly obliged. and have never once been defeated. he bowed. I However. "As a matter of fact. and continued his discourse. however. and I went on to the stage wondering desperately what I should say. appeared quite unconcerned. the well known West-end undertakers. had commissioned us to make the coffin. In my own mind I knew that Raymond was thoroughly scared. locks.Raymond and the Undertaker the lid was fastened with large butterfly nuts." he said. "a representative of the firm is in the theatre tonight. Unless I could help him his act would be a failure. who made it for you?" Raymond smiled sweetly. The performer. Mr." he said. however. sir. "Perhaps you would be good enough to come on to the stage. I am about to perform the most extraordinary coffin escape that has ever been seen. and chains. If several gentlemen--" "Name the firm!" The interruption came from a rosy faced gentleman who had risen to his feet in the front of the stalls. Raymond. No sooner had the men taken their place on the stage than the man once more demanded to know the name of the makers of the coffin. a dozen men rose to their feet. and made their way to the stage." This was a contingency for which I was quite unprepared. "I don't like the looks of that there coffin. and the result of our labours was lying on the stage. there was absolutely no trickery about it--at this point I perspired profusely--and it would indeed be a miraculous thing if Mr. No doubt he will confirm all I have told you. Come on. http://thelearnedpig. Although the coffin had been made to special measurements. Raymond. "In the course of my career. Walking to the front of the stage. Raymond was able to get out. Most people are aware that a real coffin is fastened down with screws which lie flush with the surface of the lid." he and tell the audience about the coffin. guv'nor. he pointed towards me. I have escaped from coffins." As he spoke.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:49 PM] . I added that I should be pleased to assist in the screwing down. and addressed himself to the audience "Ladies and gentlemen. I noticed that the red-cheeked interpreter was amongst them. boxes. and do all that was in my power to prevent an escape. This coffin has been made for me by a well known firm of undertakers." At this. "If several gentlemen would step up on the stage to act as a committee. took no notice.

Raymond and the Undertaker

This speech seemed to satisfy the audience. The coffin was examined, Raymond placed inside, and the lid screwed down. Of course, he succeeded in getting out, and the show proved a success. But it was a near thing! Whenever I think of Raymond, I visualize that terrible coffin made by "Jones & Howard"!
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What Hannen Swaffer told the Magic Circle

Sensational Tales of Mystery Men
by Will Goldston
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MAGICIANS and spiritualists are hereditary foes. When one considers
how great a force these two bodies might become were their efforts united, one realises that the present state of affairs is indeed a tragedy. An amalgamation would be of immense value to magic as an art, and to spiritualism as a religion. I fear there is little hope of this taking place, for, to be quite frank, the magicians who attack spiritualism are as stubborn as mules, and are determined to see no further than the ends of their noses. As a magician by profession, and a spiritualist by belief, I am regarded by many people as being just a trifle eccentric. I have gained this unenviable reputation simply because I openly confess to belief in things occult. Yet were I a grocer or a butcher instead of a magician, should I be thought "queer" because I believe in spiritualism? The Magic Circle, that eminent body of illusionists to which I once belonged, have been "disproving" the Spiritualists ever since their erstwhile President, the famous Nevil Maskelyne, first set the ball rolling. Maskelyne himself was a secret believer, but for all that the present members carry on the traditions of their society in making all sorts of startling "disclosures." On the 1st May, 1928, an historical debate took place at the Caxton Hall, Westminster, between two members of the Occult Committee of the Magic Circle, and two eminent spiritualists. In fairness to Messrs. Dingwall and Hocking, the two magicians in question, I must say they stated the case against spiritualism with a directness and conciseness which did them much credit. But their arguments were smashed to smithereens by the words of Hannen Swaffer, whose speech will go down as one of the finest ever made in the great cause of spiritualism. The other speaker for the spiritualists was Mr. Maurice Barbanell, whilst Professor A. M. Low occupied the Chair. Hannen Swaffer needs no introduction to my readers. His name is known in theatrical circles the world over. He has been called "the most hated critic in England," and there is no doubt he has done something to earn this title. Swaffer has a habit of saying exactly what he thinks, whether it is pleasant or not. (1 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:51 PM]

What Hannen Swaffer told the Magic Circle

I do not intend to record a long account of the proceedings at the Caxton Hall debate. Sufficient to say that all four speakers conducted themselves in a manner befitting the occasion. As far as I know, however, Swaffer's speech has never been permanently recorded, and I shall set down as many of his words as have a general public interest. The first speaker of the evening was Mr. Hocking, who asserted "that the case for Spiritualism had not been proved." He instanced several séances which he had attended, and which, he said, had all been faked. Swaffer was then called upon to reply. Before he commenced his speech, however, he astonished the audience by showing an egg from which he produced a coloured handkerchief. "I obtained this trick from a man who supplies apparatus to our leading magicians--Will Goldston," he explained. "I am dealing with conjurers to-night, and you see I am not entirely without some knowledge of the art." And with this novel introduction, he turned to outline the arguments for the spiritualists. "Four years ago," he said, "I was being driven into materialism, due chiefly to the fact that, like many modern men, I was beginning to disbelieve in the miracles implied in inspiration. I had the good fortune to enquire as an honest man, with my eyes open, into the subject of spiritualism, and within five days of my inquiry starting I was convinced by the direct voice mediumship of an old friend of mine, to whom I paid no money, but to whose kindness I owe a great deal. "I know nothing of those fraudulent mediums of whom Mr. Hocking has spoken. I stand here as a member of the Occult Committee of the Magicians' Club, a far more important body than that represented by the other side. "I do not think I am a man who could be easily imposed upon. I was a crime investigator for a good many years, and I know a good deal of the secrets of this world as a result of my journalistic life. When I became convinced of the truth of spiritualism, I knew I had to tell it to the world, and with my career in my hands I stood on the platform at Queen's Hall and risked the consequences. The result was that nothing has happened and nothing would. I became convinced of the truth of spiritualism because in Mr. Bradley's [ Mr. Dennis Bradley, the well-known direct voice medium. ] room at Kingston Vale the voices of the so-called dead spoke to me in their own voices. I defy anyone to call Mr. Bradley either a fake or a fraud. Mr. Hocking has told us that he did not discover anything. I read recently of a girl from St. Kilda who had never seen a tram, a horse, or a motor car, but that proved nothing. "Fake" is a word which has been hurled at martyrs through all ages. "In my own flat in Trafalgar Square in the last two years I have seen every (2 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:51 PM]

Paul believed it. Mr. and we never deceive ourselves. It happened to Wesley. That is certainly not true of persons like myself. We never sit in the dark. or there would have been no Quakers. Mr. Dingwall then spoke for the Magic Circle and was replied to by Mr. Roman Catholicism teems with it. Swaffer then resumed. A few members of the audience gave their opinion and Messrs. 'Could the scientific records that were made have been faked?' 'Yes. tell you--and it has been his business for five years as the paid research officers of the S.P. or there would not be any Jewry. It happened to Christ and Paul. We had twenty kinds of phenomena in our flat last year--fourteen different kinds on Boxing Night. it is not evidence that I have lived. They were facts which were beyond dispute. Hocking. you can no more say that it is not evidence of life hereafter than you can say that. My difficulty this evening is the inability to relate in twenty minutes the experiences of four years.R. or there would not have been any Christianity. and in my own drawing-room I have proved the same thing. St. simply because you have discovered my skull. Mahomet had evidence of it. Barbanell. It happened to George Fox.html (3 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:51 PM] . 1927. "From the beginning of history there have been witnesses of the fact that so-called supernatural phenomena has taken place. What happens in our presence is what happened to Moses. and do not want to know. but if these phenomena take place together. "I recently called up Rear-Admiral Evans. who went with Scott to the Antarctic and said to him 'Will you tell me what proof you have that Captain Scott got to the South Pole?' He replied 'None. I could go on for hours explaining everything about my sittings and lay my cards on the table. Barbanell. I am too used. or there would not have been a Wesleyan ministry. and Dingwall made further speeches. we never pay any money.--that these phenomena do not mean that people survive death." At this point Swaffer instanced a large amount of evidence which had come before him and said that he felt indignant that at this late hour of the world's civilization there should be people who could not accept the all important truths of which he had told them. as a but I cannot see why I should submit the luxury of my drawing room to the intrusion of a lot of people I do not know. 'What evidence have you got anywhere for the http://thelearnedpig. Men like Mr.' I said 'The photographs produced could have been taken on Ealing Common last winter?' 'Yes.What Hannen Swaffer told the Magic Circle kind of phenomena known to spiritualism. no doubt. Dingwall will. to analysing facts.' he said. I have heard Northcliffe's voice speaking to me in Denis Bradley's house as loudly as I am speaking to-night. except spirit photography and Hocking tell you that you go into a dark room wanting to be deluded.' he replied.

quote the words of men who could not lie.What Hannen Swaffer told the Magic Circle fact that Scott reached the Pole?' 'None. Forty years ago men were ostracised for what I am now saying openly.' he replied." Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. And the story of Scott. I only know that the evidence for spiritualism is piling too. It is easy to tell the truth to-night. for the spiritualists have already won. self-deception. fraud. 'except the word of men who could not lie. Indeed. we believe his story is true although we cannot prove after that of Nelson. we know that it is true.html (4 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:51 PM] . "My opponents talk of lies. the snows of several winters have made white those terrible plains. Still. I am not afraid of Occult Committees. and blown away all the evidence. That is our case. "Since Captain Scott died in the far South. is the greatest of the country's heirlooms. I do not believe that men of position and honour are deliberate liars.' We. deceit.

the audience had observed his plight. Unfortunately he happened to step into the three cottons which controlled his clock. and ball. and the ball ascended high into the air above the audience. To make matters worse. being a young man who had his way to make. Montague. He did not notice this. he was giving a performance before some working men at Mildmay Park. But the stage hand who had carried on his tables had unfortunately placed them wrong side to the audience. he was horrified to find that the table had been reversed. Telling an assistant to carry them on to the stage. As a sort of grand finale. The conjurer's two tables had been placed in the wings whilst a double turn--a musical and acrobatic act--occupied the stage. To the conjurer's horror. But when he came to the climax of his trick. one of the pair made a great flying leap into the wings. This roused great applause. All these effects were controlled by thin pieces of cotton which were placed across the stage. Who Does Magic Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE M. and laughed unmercifully. Little more need be said.P. is a very capable conjurer.P. he intended to show a clock which stopped at any number asked by the audience. and a mystic ball which floated in the Montague swallowed hard. The cottons immediately snapped. Many years ago.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:52 PM] . the hand of the clock started to whizz round at a terrifying pace. MR. and proceeded with his programme as if nothing untoward had happened. who is the present Under Secretary for Air. he collected his apparatus from the floor and hurried on amidst the plaudits of the audience. WHO DOES MAGIC. all the conjurer's secret traps and effects were in full view. the spirit hand tapped out continually on the glass panel. a spirit hand which rapped on a glass panel. Montague's turn lasted exactly two minutes. Amongst other things. was anxious to make a good impression. Frederick Montague. and accordingly took a good deal of care in the preparation of his tricks. and incidentally knocked over poor Montague's two tables.The M. Consequently. spirit hand. and decided to do his best with the rest of his When http://thelearnedpig. and it had been arranged that he should be on the stage for a quarter of an hour.

" he But why couldn't you make it last longer?" Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. Who Does Magic he came off.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:52 PM] . "your show was great.P. the manager approached him with outstretched hand. "Mr.The M. It's brought the house down.

What sort of illusions do you want?" "Don't know." he bellowed in a voice of thunder. My real name is Askedop--I'm a Prince in my own land. quite six foot in height. Me's Prince Acid Drop. and his unfortunate partner. sir. "Primo. I came across my diary for and flung himself into an easy chair.The Prince who Stabbed his Partner Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE PRINCE WHO STABBED HIS PARTNER. as vividly as if they had been standing at my side. "How much do you want to spend?" "About £300. "You Mr." "Wait a minute--me call my partner. "Good morning." As he spoke." I assented. He got the money. http://thelearnedpig." and the whole story came back to me. What do you know about magic?" "Nothin'.pa/magos/books/goldston/21. My friends call me Acid Drop. Primo Mulatti. sir. have I?" "No." I returned." "Acid Drop?" "Sure. sir." he said. when looking through some old books." "Ah." "That's more awkward still. Amongst the entries for July." "Righto. Goldston?" "That's me. grinning from ear to ear. It was in the early part of the month that I first encountered the Prince. He was a fine figure of a man. and his coal black skin and thick woolly hair told me he came from West Africa. I recalled the adventure of the dusky Prince.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:53 PM] . I found the words "Prince Askedop stabbed his partner. Can you build me real magic show?" "Certainly. He walked into my office one hot morning. "I haven't seen you before. NOT long ago. that's awkward. my prospective client rose to his feet and walked to the door.

"When will de tricks be finished." came the quick reply." returned Mulatti." He counted out thirty." "That's fine. "The notes are all good. This he undid. Prince Askedop again came in to see me." I said." Mr. "That's the queerest place for keeping money I've ever seen. "and they're safer there than in a bank. who spoke perfect English. a weedy little individual entered the room. eh? "Fifty pounds! Whatever for? http://thelearnedpig. and. "Three hundred pounds is good order for you." I ventured. "So long as I know when everything will be prepared. I did not feel inclined to run any risks with such queer clients. I think.The Prince who Stabbed his Partner He was answered by rapid footsteps on the office stairs. "All the tricks are simple to operate. he pulled out a bunch of five-pound notes." said the Prince." On the following morning. somewhat annoyed at the unnecessary intrusion. "That's right. and a second later. and made out a receipt. "I told you yesterday they would take ten days to complete. I told him I should be pleased to make his apparatus. I can start fixing my engagements. eh?" "Very good." I checked the amount. "He's a waiter.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:53 PM] . and explained that Prince Askedop would present them whilst he himself acted only as business manager. "Then you give me £50. "Certainly. and also my partner. inserting his hand into that part of the tie where the lining usually lies. He told me exactly what sort of illusions he required. and hastily added I should want £150 left as a deposit. so there will not be much chance of the Prince making a mistake." He pulled his tie from beneath his waistcoat." I agreed. "I'll give it to you now. Mr. I watched this proceeding in amazement. "This is Mr." replied Mulatti. Goldston?" he asked placidly. and his appearance was not enhanced by a number of dark food stains which decorated the lapels of his jacket. and exposed a huge metal safety Mulatti was evidently a man who knew his "I can have those things ready for you in ten days' time. and pushed them across the table to me." I said. His clothes had obviously been made for another man. Primo Mulatti.

Most of the managers he approached refused to engage Prince Askedop until they had seen him perform. making up as an Eastern mystic. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. and he was frank enough to tell me that this pleased him far more than "any ole £50. With one swift motion he drew a knife from his pocket and stabbed Mulatti in the back. but not in de dressin' room. he was sitting in a police cell musing on the bitterness of Fate.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:53 PM] . He called every day for the next ten days. forgetting myself in the heat of the but I did not trouble to point this out to him." He always contrived to work the question of a bribe of £50 into his conversation. I shall stop here as long as I like. You my manager round de front. please. Meanwhile." "You're mad. The Italian eventually persuaded an East-end manager to give him a week's trial run. quick." "Get out here at once. only to meet with the same flat refusal. For at the time the dusky magician was supposed to present his act. on the pretext of inquiring "just how dem tricks was goin'. "As your manager I've got a perfect right to come here--as much right as you have. Mulatti had not been idle. please!" "Don't talk such nonsense. He did not seem at all abashed at the strength of my language. "So you're trying to double cross your partner?" In a few well chosen Prince who Stabbed his Partner "You give me £50 or I tell partner de tricks is no good. On the opening night." "You swindling nigger!" I cried. I told the Prince just what I thought of him. this meaning that Askedop had to work a week for nothing. And so the partners Askedop and Mulatti never even gave their first performance. "What do you want in my dressing room demanded the Prince turning round as the Italian entered. "You get out here. Mulatti went in to see him in order to make the final arrangements for the presentation of the act." said Mulatti." The table was worth about thirty shillings." Prince Askedop wasted no further words in argument. Askedop was sitting in his dressing room. and took his departure promising to visit me again at an early date. I finally gave him a small trick table. He kept his word.

My friendship with Houdini extended over a period of thirty years. The public have read so much of his tenderness to children and animals. This he certainly was. but just as often the reverse. and his courage and daring. and nothing more.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:54 PM] . This he was not. I have represented the man as he was. he would be a most lovable man. In the stories I have related. He was a clever conjurer. He smiled and held out his hand. Such is not my In fact. it has struck me that I may be accused of showing the character of my old friend in an unfavourable light. I must be just as frank now. He was generally acknowledged a great performer. His genius--what a sadly misused word that is!--lay more in the direction of showmanship than in magic. I told him that if it were not for his uncontrollable temper and stupid conceit. but my time would be wasted. But so much has been written in Houdini's praise that the public have become saturated with ideas of his greatness. http://thelearnedpig. that he has come to be regarded as a sort of faultless Super Being. "Thank you for your frankness. He was a man of moods. From the nature of the incidents his touching affection for his mother. sometimes sweet and kind. ideas which in many cases are grossly exaggerated. I could write many stories in Houdini's praise." he said. After one of his most violent outbursts.A Foreword on Houdini Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page A FOREWORD ON HOUDINI. I have endeavoured to show that Houdini was an ordinary human being. and not as most people believe him to have been." That was typical of Houdini. with as many weaknesses as you and I. Will. "I know. He has also been described as a magical master. and I feel that few men are better qualified to pass an opinion on his character than myself. IFEEL that the stories on Houdini contained in this volume require some word of explanation.

html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:54 PM] .com.A Foreword on Houdini Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page

pa/magos/books/goldston/23." That Houdini never so much as retained a single dime from his small earnings speaks volumes for his youthful courage and unselfishness. Unknown to his parents. The facts which I am about to set down. For a time this scheme worked well. When Houdini's parents discovered the source of their son's income they begged him to find some other calling. and Harry determined to try his luck in other fields. and the sight of her slaving to keep up the appearances her husband's position demanded. and the fact that she was starving herself into an early grave was not lost upon young Harry. Without much difficulty he obtained a post in a necktie factory. and although the pay was very (1 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:55 PM] ." his father explained. he sold newspapers in the streets. however. Many of the published stories concerning Houdini have been remarkable for the manner in which they have deviated from the truth. "You see. whose income was insufficient to provide even the plainest food for his large and growing family. caused him the most acute mental agony. Harry. he found this somewhat more lucrative than his former occupation. His particular job was to cut out the tie linings. Strange as it may seem. Mrs. Although it would be impossible to record a detailed account of Harry Houdini's life story in the small amount of space at my disposal.Houdini Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HOUDINI. and have been verified from several authoritative sources. He loved his mother beyond anyone else in the world. His father was a poor and overworked Jewish clergyman named Weiss. I feel I should be guilty of a grave omission if I failed to give a brief synopsis of the great magician's early struggles and subsequent rise to fame. But it was inevitable that the truth should become known. I have my position to consider. The few cents he was able to earn in this manner were given to his mother with the explanation that he had "just been doing a job. Weiss' life was one long struggle to keep things going. were given to me by the magician himself. Houdini was born very humbly in New York. Houdini would probably never have become a http://thelearnedpig. What would my congregation think if they knew my son was a newspaper boy?" This argument was convincing enough.

and young Harry. His luck continued. He purchased a few of Dexter's secrets. "Whatever for?" "My hobby is conjuring. was forced to borrow money. However. It was at this time that Fate. and he decided that nothing on earth would stop him climbing the ladder of magical fame. "It's great fun-you should try it.Houdini magician had he not started out as a necktie cutter." He read and re-read this work until he knew practically every word by heart. and most of his spare time was devoted to practising. But his tricks were too commonplace. for it was in this factory that he had his first introduction to the art of conjuring. An out-of-work conjurer offered Houdini a small box escape. lent a helping hand and set his footsteps in the right direction.html (2 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:55 PM] . with the box trick as a grand finale. He realised bitterly that money means power in this hard and unsympathetic world. One day he suggested to Harry that they should both go along to the Bowery to purchase a few tricks. He demonstrated his "infinite capacity for taking pains" more at this period than at any other time during his But a new problem presented itself." The demonstration in the Bowery was a great success. who specialised in handcuff escapes. and dreams of making himself world famous began to fade as quickly as they had materialised. How was he to get an assistant? His http://thelearnedpig. The volume that appealed to him above all others was Professor Hoffmann's "Modern Magic. for the first time in his life." was the reply. That he was almost penniless did not worry him in the His first step was to go to the public library. He gave several entertainments at charity bazaars and similar functions. After much haggling a price was agreed upon. He bought the trick and decided to incorporate it in his programme. and decided he would have an entirely new show consisting only of handcuff escapes. "Tricks?" said Houdini. A few days later he was introduced to a performer named Dexter. He was far too poor to purchase any tricks for he still adhered to his policy of handing over all his earnings to his mother. charging a small fee for his services. which had hitherto been so unkind to him. The youth who worked on the bench next to him was interested in a small way in magic. and he had not the necessary money to buy fresh illusions. he invented many ways of performing tricks by using ordinary unprepared household objects. His youthful imagination was fired. that he determined there and then to become a conjurer. Harry was so amazed at the apparent miracles which the salesman performed. It did not take him long to realise that he was a failure. where he spent many hours in studying all the books on magic.

smiths and key makers. In fairness to Houdini I must say that he was considerably attracted by Bessie. He never worked in a locksmith's shop in the whole of his life. and challenged the performers to escape from an "ordinary" pair of handcuffs. he invented many ingenious fakes for his own use. In spite of this assurance. many imitators sprang up. the performers invariably admitted defeat.Houdini income was hardly sufficient to provide for himself. He persuaded her to leave home and they had a romantic runaway marriage. This young lady was much taken in Houdini's personality. He aimed at being different from all other performers. Sensation! That was Houdini's pass word. At the beginning of his When he thoroughly understood the workings of locks and master keys. There is absolutely no truth in the widely spread story that Houdini spent many months as a locksmith's apprentice. And then he met Bessie. He also understood the value of newspaper stories and articles as a form of Houdini acquired his skill in handcuff. but was very young and had little knowledge of the world. Houdini brought the escape business to a fine art. When Houdini's fame had spread through England and the Continent. He learnt to swim.html (3 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:55 PM] . and his first sensational trick was an escape from a milk can filled with water. and it occurred to him that two might live as cheaply as one. chain and leg iron escapes by studying the methods of the various magicians with whom he came in contact. Thus was the problem of the assistant solved." These men attended the shows of the various imitators. He organised a service of professional "challengers. many people were firmly convinced that he had the power of dematerialising his body at will. of course. http://thelearnedpig. He made a point of meeting lock. She had her fair share of good looks. The American reduced their number in an incredibly short time by means of a scheme which was as simple as it was effective. let alone pay a second salary. and I have known him to scrap many illusions because he thought he was being imitated. He once confessed to me that he spent every cent he could spare in advertising himself. These ordinary handcuffs were so constructed that once they were closed they could only be opened with a special key. He emphasized the fact that his escapes were tricks--not miracles. He was not. Houdini always told the audience that he did not possess supernatural powers. the first man to escape from handcuffs and boxes. This difficulty provided Harry with much food for thought. After a good deal of helpless struggling. but he certainly was the pioneer in escapes of a sensational nature. This illusion was invented by one of his assistants. and his knowledge increased considerably.

it was equally as clever. for they were performing in England some time before Houdini came to this country. But. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. In vain did Harry try to corner the Cirnocs by means of his "challengers. one escape act which Hotdini could not humble. This was "The Brother Cirnocs".html (4 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:55 PM] . he decided to delete the handcuff escapes from his programme. The Cirnocs were not Jmitators in the strict sense of the word. realising that he had opponents in England who were just as astute as himself. Their turn was very similar to Houdini's. what was more important from the American's point of view." At last he gave it up as a bad job.Houdini There was however.

Strangely enough. grasping him by the arm. I noticed a short figure. "Who are you? "I'm Will Goldston. we corresponded for a considerable time before he gave his first performance in this country. wondering why he was so anxious to visit the place. To my surprise. I was not left long in ignorance. When he had expressed full satisfaction at his purchase. my dear fellow!" cried Houdini.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:56 PM] . "Excuse me. I was walking down Lime Street. I've tried almost every shop in the town." His manner suddenly changed. "this is indeed a pleasant surprise. I observed that he was carrying a small dog beneath his left arm. "Tell coming towards me. "Are you Harry Houdini?" "Yes. and. and Houdini bought the boots he required. http://thelearnedpig. And then I want to find the American Bar. lowering his voice for no apparent reason. with coat collar turned up and head bent to the ground. His clothes were shabby and unkempt. As the man got nearer." We strolled along to a small footwear shop that was known to me.My First Encounter with Houdini Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH HOUDINI. I KNEW Harry Houdini before I had ever seen him. and it was this fact more than anything else which caused me to stare at him with more than usual interest. shaking me by the hand as if I had been his lifelong friend." "Goldston. it was quite by accident that I first ran into him. As I hastened along." I said. his face was familiar." he resumed. His reputation had reached me some years before I first encountered I escorted him to the American Bar. one of the main thoroughfares of Liverpool. About twenty-nine years ago. You must take me there. with my thoughts on nothing in particular. where can I get a pair of patent leather boots? "Patent leather boots? "Sure. as is the habit of magicians." was the reply. It was winter time and snowing hard.

There we talked over different matters connected with our profession. "It struck me that your visit to this country would help the sale of my first book." I replied. placed in the shop window.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:56 PM] . and made a terrific splash of the whole thing. "It's a good idea." Some months previously Houdini had given me his written consent to include the explanations of a number of his escape tricks in a book that I was writing. "Are you responsible for the display of books in the shop next to the theatre?" he asked. I hired the shop window. together with several copies of the book. Houdini. "But it doesn't do me much good. I have mentioned this somewhat insignificant incident because it was absolutely characteristic of the man--warm-hearted and generous. As we left the American "Do you know. when he told me that he himself was badly lacking in funds.My First Encounter with Houdini When we arrived. I had had a big placard painted with the words "How Houdini does his tricks. it was not until some years afterwards that I realised he had told me the truth. and I remember advising the American to go down to the harbour and see a huge advertisement of his name." said my companion. and had decided to give as much as he could afford. Houdini had been told of this. Houdini was a starving man! After we had walked some little way in silence--I hardly liked to call the man a liar--Houdini resumed the conversation.' with the Christian name "Harry" in very small type. why not?" I asked. Houdini told me the story of his life--a story that could fill several volumes. "Yes. Houdini thought this a http://thelearnedpig. It was then that I urged him to have his name printed as 'Houdini. And later. "I have not had a decent meal for more than five years!" "In Heavens's name. does it?" And he smiled kindly. and you certainly deserve to get on." At first I thought Houdini was pulling my I found that a collection was being made for the widow of a poor and unknown member of the profession. Although he was earning a hundred pounds a week." and had it. "You must call at my apartments to-morrow. As a matter of fact. I would like you to meet Mrs. but subscribed two pounds to the fund. "In my early days I couldn't afford it." he said. I wondered what manner of man this strange Houdini could be. Goldston. always willing to help a brother or sister in distress. In those days he was not getting the big salary that he earned in later years." The next day I called and had tea with the Houdinis. and now I'm too busy.

pa/magos/books/goldston/24. Nobody was better pleased than myself to have the whole matter cleared up.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:56 PM] . I was at a loss to understand his conduct. the Cirnocs appeared in this country. Houdini got hold of a copy of the paper and wrongly assumed that it was himself I had exposed. When Houdini was making a big name for himself in America. As a publicity stunt they declared they could escape from any police cell in which they were locked. This they did to the satisfaction of the public--but not to my own. He kept his promise for twenty eight years.My First Encounter with Houdini good business idea. but hitherto we had been the closest of friends. Impetuosity was probably the strongest trait in Houdini's character. for Houdini's friendship was something for which I would not have exchanged a dozen theatrical but this had been a genuine escape. I discovered they bribed the officials who had locked them in. and were indeed a very formidable combination. This last was a double turn--father and son. for not only were his statements untrue. Before I left. He immediately attacked me in a libellous article which appeared in his own American Magical magazine. and eventually became known simply by his surname. he promised that he would write to me every week when he returned to America. It happened in this manner. During the whole of that time I only had one quarrel with him. sometimes sending me as many as three and four letters a week. In justice to my friend I exposed the Cirnocs in a magical book. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. Explanations and apologies followed. Houdini had done the same thing in America. This was due to a stupid misunderstanding.

and told me of his secret ambition. IN SPITE of his wonderful success as an escape artist. he paid in the five hundred sovereigns. After some discussion he agreed to buy several of Morritt's own tricks and commissioned the inventor to build them for him. Can you tell me the name of an illusion inventor who can keep a secret?" "Yes. The magical show was an utter and complete failure. Harry decided to give his new show a trial run in the provinces.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:57 PM] . "If the English want Of course." I replied cautiously. For some reason best known to himself. Will?" he asked. he left me definite instructions not to be present at the first night. Naturally I respected my friend's wishes. On the following day he hired a number of detectives to accompany him to the local bank. "I know that. the money was drawn out again for the next performance. but. in order to give if an extra fillip. One of Harry's best tricks consisted of producing five hundred gold sovereigns from an apparently empty bag.?" Houdini took my tip and paid a visit to Morritt's workshop. There was a long account of the affair in the newspapers next morning. Houdini was always very keen to build and present a number of ordinary magical illusions. with a good deal of unnecessary ceremony and palaver. Houdini thought out an extraordinary publicity stunt. The audience received the programme well enough. After a week's trial he wisely decided to return to his escapes. but I had a full account of the performance from another magician who was present. finally. He was but I'd like a change. "What do you think of it.Houdini and the Magical Illusions Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HOUDINI AND THE MAGICAL ILLUSIONS. This strange proceeding naturally caused a stir in the provincial town which was just what Houdini wanted. It was with this end in view that he called at my office one morning about twenty years ago. and no doubt the magician felt his trouble had been worth while. Why not try Charles Morritt who has built stuff for Maskelyne and Devant Ltd. "Your escapes are good and the public like them. There.

" he explained to me afterwards." So he shipped all his apparatus to New York to be stored for use at some later date. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig.Houdini and the Magical Illusions (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:57 PM] . they can have "But I'm determined to give a good magical show before I die.

He did not make many mistakes during his lifetime. if I meet him. " but it must not be supposed that his judgment was always infallible. p'raps I'd best not see him. Say. So to save you any bother. De Biere's long and painful story casts very little credit on the American magician. De Biere and Houdini were very great friends before the unhappy failure. quite often." I said pleasantly. Afterwards they became bitter enemies. using an epithet that would have sounded better from the lips of a bargee. switch on the light. Houdini was never cut out for film acting. Arnold de Biere. also lost several thousands. who had been persuaded to put some money into the scheme. When be Biere's in here with you." "Oh? Who's that?" "De Biere." cried Houdini. I remember Houdini calling on me one morning in one of his ugliest moods. Harry had an idea that he could make a fortune on the movies." "That b--. In this manner was a long and affectionate friendship smashed beyond repair. "Does he often come in here?" "Yes. goes before a fall. He decided to produce a film bringing in his more daring escapes and was convinced that he would be an enormous success. how do you switch on that light outside your door?" "I have a switch on my desk. If I http://thelearnedpig. TO ERR is human." "Well. But that was not all.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:57 PM] .Houdini's Film Failure Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HOUDINI'S FILM FAILURE. they say. Some years later he told me that his venture had cost him more than £100." "That's Pride. Harry. I'll fling him down the stairs.000. "A friend of yours has just been in. and Houdini was a human being. The greatest blunder he ever made was to act for the films.

I'll know who's in." Now he wanted the American Press to boost him again. Every Jew believes through his religion that the spirit which passes out from the body at death. At last he had an idea inspired by a number of spiritualistic lectures which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had been giving in the States. Houdini put his show on the road. Harry. A lecture against spiritualism. and call it the "HOUDINI ROAD SHOW." I sighed." as he called them. he prayed that her spirit would be guarded and protected. and thought the time had come when he should again present his conjuring act. and find out the truth for themselves As he had anticipated. 3. His campaign against the spiritualists had met with such astounding success. introducing apparatus which. I know Houdini was not sincere in his statements. Escapes (he could not entirely forget his old love). lives on. When he had the Press of the country with him. But what astounds me more than anything else is this--he is a firm believer in Spiritualism!" Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. During the course of this lecture Houdini was in the habit of throwing a photograph of myself on to the screen. Magic and illusions. "It's a fine Then he declared he had discovered that Spiritualism was nothing but a gigantic fraud. Houdini would expose the spiritualists! So Harry. On the death of his mother. and it was some time before he hit on the right scheme. his "disclosures. an author. He invited several pressmen to follow his lead." I said. He remembered the magical apparatus that had been stored since his failure in England. he declared. he would stage a programme that America had never seen before. the hero of sensational escapes." After his film failure. and an inventor. "This is a friend of mine in England. As a spiritualist myself. 2. that he decided to incorporate further propaganda in his programme. No real disbeliever would do that.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:57 PM] . and that she would be eternally happy. created a great sensation. "He is a magician. disguised himself and attended several of the séances which were being held as a direct outcome of Sir Arthur's tour. "Alright. Yes. was used by "mediums" for faking spirit effects. His performance consisted of 1. And Houdini was really a good" he would tell the audience. Houdini decided to return to vaudeville.Houdini's Film Failure come up the stairs and see the light on. and come back later.

fool. his face white with" "You b-. and on many occasions he asked me to help and advise him with his illusions. Before he was due to open. I was Houdini's greatest friend for a long period of years." One trick in particular was a "winner. As I was talking to him in his dressing room before the performance. and entered. "It's all right.Houdini at the Palladium Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HOUDINI AT THE PALLADIUM." and he wanted me to be in the theatre to see it. boss. for I guessed he would be as pleased as Punch if he could mystify me as well as the rest of the To appreciate the full point of this little yarn. "Well?" asked Houdini. it must be remembered that I am a professional magician of many years experience in performing and inventing.html [4/23/2002 3:41:59 PM] . I CAN recall an amusing story of Houdini which throws an interesting sidelight on his extraordinary character. I could clearly see what the man was driving at. "Can't you see we're not alone?" Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. When the American last appeared in this country." screamed Harry jumping to his feet. an assistant rapped on the door. he was engaged at the London Palladium for a fortnight at the enormous salary of £900 a week. I've fixed up those two confederates in the stalls and circle. In addition. he informed me that he was running a "really great show." came the answer.

"Tell me. The house was an insignificant theatrical Have arranged rooms for you at my digs--Houdini. for I knew that Houdini was earning well over £300 pounds a week. Will. he told them he was about to present "the world's greatest act. In vain did I try to persuade Houdini to change his lodgings for a good class hotel." and asked if half a dozen gentlemen from the stalls would come on to the stage to secure his fastenings." Such was the telegram I received from my American friend when he was performing at Manchester many years ago. she can dish up anything in first rate style. my astonishment was so great that I could hardly find words to greet my at Manchester Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HOUDINI AT MANCHESTER. I readily agreed. an escape from ropes and chains." And with that I had to be content. I feel that all's right with the world. Several men stepped on to the stage. Following his usual procedure he performed several minor illusions prior to doing his "feature" trick. "But with some decent food inside me. and was installed in a comfortable seat before the second performance. Frowsy? Is it really now? I hadn't noticed." The following day was Saturday. Harry. "Why in the name of goodness are you staying in a frowsy hole like this?" "Frowsy? Houdini raised his eyebrows in surprise.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:00 PM] . At first I was inclined to think I was the victim of a practical joke. The landlady is a heavenborn cook. "Appearances count nothing with me. and Houdini asked me if I would care to see the show he was presenting at the Manchester Palace." he said. with typically cheap furniture and threadbare carpets. "COME immediately. Houdini was accorded a tremendous reception when he appeared. including myself. It so happened that I had no important engagements at the time. spend two days as my guest. Anyway. When I arrived at the address Houdini had given me. The volunteers did http://thelearnedpig. When the audience had been worked up to a suitable state of excitement." I said at length. it doesn't matter much. and decided to accept the invitation.

In nine cases out of ten this treatment was sufficient persuasion that silence was by far the best policy at Houdini's performances. "I don't like the look of this scratched his head wonderingly. however. "What in God's name have your men done to that interrupter?" he gasped. and Houdini was securely bound and chained. He was indeed a sorry sight.Houdini at Manchester their work As Houdini was returning to the dressing room after the performance. "They've half murdered him!" "They've done what?" asked Harry. the smiling George. he was placed beneath the stage to recover at his leisure. and walked off the stage. was led away half protesting by. However.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:00 PM] ." The note changed hands. his lips were cut." The battered one was brought forward for inspection. In this particular case. That was the last the audience saw of him. When the poor man had been knocked almost unconscious. and his nose had assumed elephantine proportions. Houdini gave a secret sign to a man who was standing in the wings." he said. The victim. http://thelearnedpig. Both eyes were closed. While the disgruntled one was airing his protests. But from the start he was hopelessly outnumbered." he said. assuming innocence. well out of sight of the audience. he instituted a system which permitted his show to proceed with its accustomed smoothness. the victim showed fight. Meanwhile. the magician was not in the least perturbed. and send you safely home. "I never told them to touch him. "Really. my man. So much the worse for him. "It looks as if it might slip easily. Three or four of Houdini's assistants pounced on him and speedily but effectively silenced him. and in order to avoid all public embarrassment. he was approached by the house-manager. George here will put you in a taxi. But one man with ruddy cheeks and a waxed moustache. Good night. He must have got fresh. The assistants had done their work not wisely but too well. However. producing a five pound note from his pocket. I will discharge them. was bent on making things uncomfortable for him. Incidentally it was the last he saw of the audience. torn between a desire to thank Houdini for the fiver and an impulse to dot him in the eye. As soon as the unfortunate interrupter had walked well into the wings. The confederate took the cue and smilingly beckoned to the victim." Houdini was never happy when people found fault with his performance. "you must not upset my staff like this. He lashed out wildly with both fists. he received a terrific cuff on the ear. The man paused. I'm afraid you made them loose their tempers.

Houdini at Manchester "Well. "It's all in a lifetime... you know it's all in a lifetime. By the way have you heard that story about the wife who broke her husband's nose with a flatiron.? Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:00 PM] ." said Houdini to me in his dressing well.

A Regrettable Incident

Sensational Tales of Mystery Men
by Will Goldston
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HOUDINI was a great man in many ways. He had courage, determination,
and infinite patience. In other things he was often unscrupulous and dishonest. On one occasion I asked him to dine with me at my flat. At that time my hobby was collecting pictures of which I was said to be no mean judge: I was especially proud of one that I had recently bought, a small water colour of a handsome woman. It was a real work of art, and occupied an important position on my drawing room wall. "How do you like that, Harry?" I asked, pointing with the stem of my pipe at my latest acquisition. "Pretty good, eh?" "Good heavens, Will, that's mine!" came the startling reply. "Yours?" I returned, puzzled. "What do you mean?" "Of course it's mine. It was promised to me." "Don't talk such rubbish. I can show you the receipt for it." "I can't help that. It was offered to me, and I said I would consider the matter. I must have it." "But I've paid for it." "What you have done is no concern of mine. I claim that picture." "Harry," I said, gently. "Your friendship is worth more to me than that picture. Don't let's have words over it." "No. Don't let's. I'll take it." Houdini removed the picture from the wall. I watched him in silence, wondering at the incredible smallness of the man's character. The next time I saw my water colour, it was hanging in the bedroom of Harry's New York home.
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A Regrettable Incident (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:01 PM]

The Houdini Packing Case Escape

Sensational Tales of Mystery Men
by Will Goldston
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ON ONE occasion when Houdini was performing in London, he decided
to try out a new packing case escape. The trick was very successful and he was well pleased with the reception he obtained. Half way through the week he invited me to dine with him, and suggested I should accompany him to the theatre after the meal. As we were putting on our hats and coats prior to setting off to the show, Houdini turned to me with. a startled expression on his face. "Will!" he cried. "Yes, Harry?" I replied, not knowing what to expect. "Do you know how I escape from that packing case?" "I haven't given it a thought, Harry." "You're lying," Houdini shouted. "tell me the truth.'' "I assure you, Harry--" "Don't lie, Will." Houdini's manner had become quieter now. "To be honest, I want to know if magicians are getting wise to my secrets. If you don't know them, I'm not afraid of the others. Please tell me." I took a pencil and note-book from my pocket, and sketched an instrument which I thought could be used for the packing case escape. Without speaking, I handed over my diagram to Houdini. He went deathly pale. My long shot had gone home. "I'll take this," be said at last, tearing the sheet from my notebook. "This has finished me with packing cases. After this performance, I'll have no more."
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Had they not done so. and incidentally had the desired effect of increasing his popularity." This idea tickled Harry immensely. he would take a huge wreath to the graveside. He went even further.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:02 PM] . On the following day his likeness would appear in the papers with such words as "Great Magician pays homage to a departed conjurer. more likely than not they desired to be left in quietness." I HAVE already made some reference to Houdini's love of publicity. "Heavens. take this point of view. or would not. and accordingly hunted up the grave and records of Robert Houdin. I have never learnt the reason for this refusal on the part of Houdin's relatives. that they wished to have nothing to do with him. It was his very life blood. was totally beyond his comprehension. "what's wrong with me? Anyone would think I'm a leper! But they'll be sorry for it before I'm finished. That anyone should refuse to see him." "What do you mean?" I asked. Some of them failed. accompanied by an army of press photographers. Then. these good people refused to meet him. But Houdini could not. Harry was not blind to the value of sentimental publicity. and inquired for the whereabouts of Houdin's surviving relatives. To his utter astonishment." he said. most of them succeeded. This public rebuff made Harry very he might easily have died a poor and unknown He invented so many schemes for bringing his name before the public that I could fill several volumes on those alone. When he was performing in Paris before the war. http://thelearnedpig. Possibly they hated the thought of publicity. One of his favourite schemes was to hunt out the graves of any magicians who had lived in the particular town or district in which he was appearing. the eminent French illusionist. he decided to carry out this same programme. standing bareheaded whilst his photograph was taken. the great Houdini. and informed him in a manner which left no room for doubt.Houdini and the Unmasking of Robert Houdin Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HOUDINI AND "THE UNMASKING OF ROBERT HOUDIN. Will.

"If anyone does that it will be you. Although Harry had taken much trouble to delve out his facts. and the information was not generally accepted as accurate. His spirit should rest in peace. and call it 'The Unmasking of Harry Houdini. "the public will believe anything I tell them. it will never be out of vindictiveness." he said slowly. Harry. One of these days somebody will write a book on you. and you know it as well as anyone. I laughed." When the book eventually appeared. Why be so vindictive? Houdin was a great magician. Houdin is dead and cannot answer back.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:02 PM] . heatedly." "Rubbish. He's going to get the worst write up he ever had. Harry. "Maybe you're right. It was as well." "He was an'" He looked up sharply at my words. I have collected my facts to prove it. it was an utter failure. He was an imposter. "But if I ever write on Houdini. I tell you." I returned." was a man whom we all loved and respected. And anyway. he had also allowed his imagination to run. Nobody will think you a better man for such a beastly action. Robert" I replied." "You are making a great mistake." he added lamely. "You know that's not true.Houdini and the Unmasking of Robert Houdin "I'm writing a book on Houdin that'll make those folks of his sit up. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. 'The Unmasking of Robert Houdin' will make everyone take notice. "The French Father of Magic.

"These are all wrong. I was a happy man when he finally agreed to allow Raymond to officiate. I managed to talk Harry over. We had several hundred cards printed for distribution amongst our members. It so happened that the only available magician of any repute willing to occupy the chair and make the presentation was The Great Raymond. when they arrived back from the printers. Raymond. We had decided that the gathering would provide a splendid opportunity of making him a presentation." http://thelearnedpig." and then he went on to tell me in a few well chosen words just what he thought of Raymond's capabilities." he said. to my relief. for he had been our President since the inauguration of the club. his irritability. he pinches my ideas. and his quick temper. I felt the position very keenly.Houdini Objects to Someone Else's Boost Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HOUDINI OBJECTS TO SOMEONE ELSE'S BOOST. his childishness. F. "What's the matter with them?" I inquired wondering what my friend had at the back of his mind. The weakness of Houdini's character was never better illustrated that at an annual dinner of the Magicians' Club. While it is not my intention to stress the faults of one who for many years was a friend. "I won't accept anything from that --." he declared hotly." "Well it'll have to be altered. "Why. Don't let's argue about it. But they didn't please Houdini. Call him just 'M. eight or nine years ago. "You've got here 'In the Chair--The Great Raymond. It's only a professional name.' He's not great at all. I HAVE already made some reference to the weaker side of Harry Houdini's nature. but." "I shouldn't let that worry you.' Even that's a damn sight too good for him. I feel it is my duty to present to the public a true pen picture of the man as I knew And Harry detested Raymond. and resign the presidency of the club in the bargain.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:03 PM] . Either you have these cards reprinted as I like them or I'll refuse to attend the dinner.

com. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:03 PM] .pa/magos/books/goldston/32.Houdini Objects to Someone Else's Boost There was no argument. The cards were reprinted.

html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:04 PM] . The manacles were placed on his wrists. A well known newspaper challenged Houdini to escape from a pair of handcuffs made by a Birmingham blacksmith. There was one thing. That was the manner in which he freed himself. and returned to his cabinet. Perspiring profusely. ten. which he refused to disclose. The test was held at the London Hippodrome. he entered the small cabinet which exposed only his face to the audience of two thousand people. Houdini. So he procured a penknife from his pocket. and Houdini asked that his coat might be he asked his wife to bring him a glass of water. and still Houdini had not escaped. but he afterwards told me it was the most nerve racking ordeal in all his long magical experience. and. But still the time went by. and it was said that the manacles could only be opened by a special key. This man had taken five years to perfect his invention. A few minutes later. This request was refused since it would have necessitated removing the handcuffs. it turned to a sigh of and slashed the lining of the coat to ribbons. Had Houdini met his Waterloo? There was a cry of relief as he walked to the footlights at the end of half an hour. however. This she did. That he did eventually succeed in escaping from a pair of specially constructed cuffs after seventy minutes struggling was in itself a great triumph. Houdini took the glass http://thelearnedpig. but when it was seen that his wrists were still secured. readily accepted. The audience was amazed. and it was generally expected that Houdini would free himself from the wonder cuffs in his customary time of two or three minutes. Five. and he seemed no nearer success. At the end of an hour. he requested that a pillow might be placed on his knees in order to make his position more comfortable.Did Houdini Fail? Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page DID HOUDINI FAIL? I CAN recall only one occasion when Houdini was baffled in an escape act. twenty minutes passed. placing it on the edge of the cabinet. following his usual procedure. and realising the value of the challenge as a free advertisement. The audience grew restless. he examined the handcuffs in the full glare of the electric light. Fifteen minutes more elapsed. fearing nobody.

he walked from the cabinet with the handcuffs free from his wrists. I think this story is an exaggeration. Harry. it may have been deceived. said my informant. he emerged from the cabinet. and gave her to understand she would have to procure the key at all costs." I said. you had better find out the rest. but in this case the locks had proved so stubborn that it had taken him over an hour to persuade them to yield. A man whose sources of information were usually correct told me that Houdini never escaped from the Ten minutes later. I can readily believe that Houdini was capable of such a plan when he found his escape impossible. After an hour's struggling. realising the terrible predicament of her husband. I expected it. "Never mind if he did actually fail to escape. she asked to be given the key to pass on to her husband. When Hondini came in to see me two days later. one would hardly http://thelearnedpig. So he asked his wife for a glass of water. That. One must remember it would have been a great triumph from newspaper's point of view to have brought about the defeat of such a celebrated escapologist as Houdini. Shortly afterwards. "they're telling me you unlocked the handcuffs with the journalist's key." was all he said. He was free. Will. This refusal of information on Houdini's part should not be construed as an admission of guilt. Perhaps the public was right. I guessed he would welcome the story as a means of quiet publicity. Is that true?" "Who's been saying that?" he demanded. whilst to the paper it meant but little. I only know that on the following day I was told a very different story. the magician realised he would never escape. and frankly told him that her husband was beaten. Since failure would have meant the end of everything for Houdini. How did Houdini escape? Presumably he manipulated the handcuffs by his ordinary methods. Personally. and his appearance was greeted with thunderous applause. Bessie. This request was granted. and flung the handcuffs on to the stage. called one of the journalists aside. It was rumoured that Bessie placed the key in the glass of water and took it to Houdini on the stage. I do not know. is what the public concluded. "Say. I put the question to him point blank. for knowing him as I did. even if it was untrue.Did Houdini Fail? between his hands and drained it. Is it true?" "Since you know so much. On the other hand. but whether a newspaper man of standing would have consented to deliver up the key is quite another matter.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:04 PM] . at least.

html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:04 PM] .Did Houdini Fail? expect him to admit it. I am afraid we shall never know what actually happened. He afterwards told me that he would sooner face death a dozen times than live through that ordeal again. but you can take it from me that Houdini had the greatest shock of his life. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page

but sufficiently long to tell me that Houdini was an altered man. I have only once seen Houdini manifest himself in spirit form--this in spite of the fact that I am an ardent spiritualist. however. Who can say? I am not clairvoyant." Then I hit on what I believe to be the true explanation. in an earthly sense. but lacked the power. perhaps trying to attract my attention. almost unrecognisable voice. that he is determined to tell me. That is sufficient time for the spirit of the average human being to realise that he or she is something different from the flesh and blood of us mortals. The appearance was brief. evidently endeavouring to free himself. He was struggling violently. I mean. In all that time. He thinks he is still one of and I think it more than likely that he does not realise he is dead. I am convinced there is much he has to tell me. How many attempts he has made to communicate with me since his tragic death he alone knows. cannot realise his true position in regard to the friends he has left on earth. Houdini is lost in his new sphere. "Why should he be?" I asked myself. The solitary occasion of which I speak was at Hannen Swaffer's flat. and have several times endeavoured to get in touch with my departed friend. He has lost his perspective. strangely different from the man we had known in life. This particular séance had The great American has been dead now for over three years. His wrists were held together as though fastened by unseen handcuffs. "Don't you know me?" He appeared to want to tell us something. It was through this person that Houdini appeared to us. He was always a difficult man to convince. "There is no reason. A few seconds later he was gone. and am quite unable to sense a spirit presence. including a well-known amateur trance medium. At last he pulled his wrists apart as though he had escaped from the manacles. "I'm Houdini.Is Houdini Earthbound? Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page IS HOUDINI EARTH BOUND? IS HOUDINI earth bound? I think he is. There were several people present at the time. as a spiritual being. dead.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:04 PM] . early in the spring Of 1928. He may be at my side as I pen these words. and." he whispered in a hoarse.

Is Houdini Earthbound? been held because an entity who called himself Houdini had said. I was struck by the desperate and eager way in which he endeavoured to make himself known. On Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig.. the only occasion when he actually succeeded in getting into touch with me.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:04 PM] ." So I went along. That he failed to tell me all that he wished is ample proof that his spiritual education is not yet "Send for Will...

in order that the truth should eventually be known to either him or his wife. he knew that he was no more qualified to speak on the matter than millions of other people.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:05 PM] . publicity stunt. and placed in a bank vault. Had I the mind to do so. Arthur Ford. Houdini was never entirely convinced that spiritualism was a fraud. that Houdini was an unconscious medium. As a matter of fact Houdini was nothing more or less than exceedingly clever conjurer who knew the art of showmanship from A to Z. He communicated the message to Mrs. Some months afterwards the Rev. Many of the statements that have been issued on this matter have been so entirely contradictory and false that many otherwise credulous members of the public have put the whole thing down as a somewhat Bessie Houdini a Cheat? Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page IS BESSIE HOUDINI A CHEAT? SO MUCH has been said and written of the Houdini spirit message to the Rev. As all the world knows. And. who confirmed the fact that it was the secret code word which her husband had arranged. The code message was secreted in a sealed compact. A few of the smaller magicians who were unable to offer a reasonable explanation of the http://thelearnedpig. but not entirely unsuccessful. Although he gained much publicity by publicly denouncing the religion as one of the biggest and cruellest forms of swindling in existence. Houdini. In the first place let me say definitely that Houdini was never a spiritualistic medium. The news created a great sensation in the United States. I should like to make this point quite clear in view of the fact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle suggested in the "Strand Magazine" that many of the American's amazing illusions were effected by means of spiritualism--in short. Arthur Ford received a spirit message which purported to come from the dead magician. But in spite of the fact that he was always endeavouring to expose and ridicule every spiritualistic medium with whom he came in contact. I could explain every one of the American's illusions. Houdini himself was the first to that I feel I should be doing an injustice to the great American magician if I did not spare a small amount of space in order to clear up the matter once and for all. he arranged that whichever of the pair should die first should endeavour to send over a secret code message which was known only to themselves.

I was greeted with jeers. I have the pleasure of knowing both the people in question. for I have no paper at my beck and call. no one said a word. Houdini and the Rev. With all these different tales I would not even argue. demure little woman. I prefer to believe Mr. This letter is not for publicity. "Mrs.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:05 PM] . A certain section of the American press boosted the views of these magical nobodies. Ford were openly accused of fraud. Houdini said I did. Walter Winchell of the staff of the New York "Graphic" should leave little doubt upon the when they knew my heart was hungry for the true words from my husband? Of the many stories told about me. Ford has stoutly denied saying this ugly thing. and it is difficult to believe that he would enter into any form of swindling." The following letter which Mrs. But. as he himself writes. Walter Winchell. Why? Those who denounced the entire thing as a fraud. The Rev Arthur Ford is a well respected man in New York. and the sealed compact which Houdini left in the bank vault seems to prove it. For two years I have been praying to receive the message from my husband. However. Houdini wrote to Mr. for two years every day I have received messages from all parts of the world." She is rich. and in a short while. and has absolutely nothing to gain in bringing her name before the public. and I accepted it as the truth. It is interesting to note that he declares that he does not know whether he received the Houdini message or not. Houdini is a sweet. known among her friends as "Bessie the Nun. Mrs. Others say the message has been common property and known to them for some time. Now regarding the séance. When I repudiated these messages. The letter runs as follows: Dear Mr. I want to let Houdini's old friends know that I did not betray his trust. Mrs. I brand him as a liar. Ford said this. claim that I had given Mr. Why do they tell me this now. Mr. Everyone has a different opinion of how the message was obtained. and knowing him as well as I do. If Mr. except the writers who said I had not the nerve to admit the truth. I have no way to tell the world the truth or the untruth. I do not need publicity. http://thelearnedpig. Had I wanted a publicity stunt I no doubt could have chosen any of these sensational messages. Ford the message.Is Bessie Houdini a Cheat? affair immediately decided that the whole thing was a fake. the message that Houdini and I agreed upon came to me. When the real message. I am writing you this personally because I wish to tell you emphatically that I was no party to any fraud. A.

Is Bessie Houdini a Cheat? when any one accuses me of giving the words that my beloved husband and I labored so long to convince ourselves of the truth of communication. I feel obliged to allot a small amount of space to the true explanation of the failure of the magical entertainment with which she contemplated touring America. on a lecture tour. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. then I can only repeat they lie. In conclusion. BEATRICE HOUDINI. I don't need to earn money. but somehow I do. My husband made it possible for me to live in the greatest if not by spiritual aid. She realised she could not do better than carry on her late husband's work as a magician. I have no intention of going on the (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:05 PM] . however. yet never told me. For the rest of the world I really ought not to care a hang. And now. how. and partly owing to her own inherent love of the footlights. At the rehearsals. She decided to produce an escape from a solid block of ice. and finally thought it best to proceed no further with the show. Mrs. After the death of her husband. after I told the world that I had received the true message. she decided to alter her decision. Sincerely yours. and the manner in which the act was produced. she became dissatisfied with the construction of her apparatus. or as some paper said. I have gotten the message that I have been waiting for from my beloved. They left it for Mr. for they had no desire to see her appear in an act which was not in keeping with the true Houdini tradition. everyone seems to have known of the code. Several of her friends were in agreement with her. But. If anyone claims that I gave the code. Ford to tell me. therefore this letter. then I will fight and fight until the breath leaves my body. may I say that God and Houdini and I know that I did not betray my trust. In justice to Bessie Houdini. and I am accused of giving the words. I do not know. She was not enjoying the best of health at the time. Forgive its length. Houdini decided to give up all her connections with stage life. Why should I want to cheat myself? I do not need publicity. and for several months she was coached by illusionists of repute in America. partly owing to the persistent arguments of her friends.

com. But not so Maurice." replied the girl. This attention urged Maurice to further efforts." The conjurer produced a photograph and his professional card which the girl studied with obvious interest. Twelve years ago. not a little "Good morning." "I'm afraid I don't. As he was about to enter my office. Nine men out of ten would have passed the girl by. but you are a very nice girl. "Are you in the profession?" he asked. he was walking through Leicester Square with the intention of calling on me to discuss some business affairs which we had in hand. the well known French card manipulator. beautiful. http://thelearnedpig. following up his advantage.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:06 PM] . is a man of an impulsive and somewhat obstinate disposition. It was these characteristics which caused him to propose to the lady who is now his wife on the first occasion that he ever saw her. He approached the car. "Er--good morning. "It's a very nice morning." "Excuse me if I say so. "Yes. THE Great Maurice. But what attracted his attention more than the car was the extremely pretty and well dressed girl who happened to be sitting at the wheel." "Am I really?" "Yes. and doffed his hat in the approved style.Maurice and the Girl in the Car Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page MAURICE AND THE GIRL IN THE CAR." he said." went on the conjurer. Perhaps you know me--my name is Maurice. he noticed a very smart limousine car that was drawn up to the curb just outside my front door. for she appeared to be entirely wrapped in her own thoughts.

I told you it wouldn't take long!" Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig." "Do you think you would care to marry me?" "I might. I dismissed the matter from my thoughts. and smiled. Leaving the car by the curb. and rushed into my office." he said. and the little lady will be frightfully disappointed if you don't come. "Downstairs in the car. still extremely happy and excited. leaving his newly found fiancée still sitting in the car. We must have just one (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:06 PM] . You're the only one we have invited. To this I agreed. Taking a slice of cake from the dish." "Tell me now. "You're coming to my wedding breakfast now. He told me his happy news. I had no alternative but to agree. and added that he would expect me to attend his wedding breakfast.Maurice and the Girl in the Car "Yes. We've only just been married." Maurice could hardly believe his ears. "That's our wedding breakfast." I told him. There he ordered three cups of tea and a plate of Dundee cake. thinking the whole affair was just a mad escapade. however. and I accompanied Maurice downstairs and offered my best wishes and congratulations to his wife." "That's most interesting. "I can't manage it to-day. and we've selected you. I will. Maurice. I am an assistant with The Great he burst in on me again." I pondered for a moment. he placed it on my plate. "Where's the bride?" I asked. When Maurice left my office. and directed his footsteps towards the Lyons teashop which stands in Green Street. "There Will. By the way--are you married?" "Oh. Maurice took me by the arm. "I have a lot of urgent business on hand. The breakfast won't take you long. and danced with joy on the pavement. yes or no." "But you must come. "I must tell my friend Will Goldston!" he shouted." "Very well. no." he said. A few months later. Will." Put to me in this light.

Maurice and the Girl in the Car (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:06 PM] .

He seems to be following me about." "Good afternoon. and handed them back to "That's a picture of a girl who sometimes works with me. "But not this one. the popular Australian actor. "Who's your friend?" "Do you mean this fellow?" asked Maurice. "None of you gentlemen have seen me before.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:07 PM] ." interrupted the dusky one." I said. He was immediately followed by a huge. ONE afternoon. when The Great Maurice walked into my office. "Yes. shortly after the War. I was demonstrating a few tricks to Bert Bailey." "You want to become a conjurer?" "Sure. What sort of tricks have you got?" "There's the 'Indian Basket." http://thelearnedpig. "They're all very interesting. jerking his head in the negro's direction. I daresay you have." was the reply. "But why do you honour me with a visit?" "I've finished with the wild man stuff." I glanced through the photographs. sir." I returned. I'm a side show exhibit at circuses." He produced a number of dilapidated prints from his pocket. I'm the Wild Man from Borneo." "What's your line?" I asked. "I don't know him from Adam. thick set. I'm Sam.The Great Maurice and a New Illusion Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE GREAT MAURICE AND A NEW ILLUSION. and not very intelligent looking negro. I want to buy some tricks.' That's a good Maurice." I remarked. "Good afternoon. We look like real savages when we're made up. Just look at these photos." "I've met plenty of Sams. There's only one Sam like me.

" "Well." he said." "Do you mean to tell me that you didn't realise I was pulling that fellow's leg?" Maurice looked annoyed." I said. But everything I proposed met with the same objection." "The best thing you can do. At last I grew desperate. At this the negro's eyes lit up." "What is the price of this person?" "I'll charge you £350. "What's your price to me?" I looked at him in amazement. "Say. I can tour the world http://thelearnedpig. "is to get your friends to subscribe. Maurice?" I asked. If you use your brains and invent one. I'll "Which half is the woman?" he asked." he said excitedly. I burst out laughing. half dog freak. "How long have you been a conjurer. "The top half. mister. "Since I was a kid in knickerbockers. "My goodness. and make yourself managing director." The dusky one jumped back as if I had shot him. Maurice gripped me by the arm. He picked up his hat. trying to keep a straight face. I'll buy that half woman." "Would a box escape suit you?" "That came out of the ark?" For the next twenty minutes I was occupied in suggesting tricks to the negro. "Isn't there any such person?" he demanded. As the door closed behind him. they were all too old. "That's a lot of money. It's much too old. "Of course not. and promised to call again in a few days when he had collected the money.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:07 PM] ." The negro evidently thought this a good suggestion. Form a liability company." "It's really alive?" "As much alive as you are. This freak will make your fortune. "What about a freak that is half a woman. half a dog?" I demanded.The Great Maurice and a New Illusion "

The Great Maurice and a New Illusion with Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. he stamped impatiently from the room.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:07 PM] .pa/magos/books/goldston/37. There's a fortune in the idea." And with that.

pa/magos/books/goldston/38. I shall need your help for my next illusion. Then came the better class natives who wore top hats. apparently burning it. Dr.How Magic is Accepted in Nigeria Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HOW MAGIC IS ACCEPTED IN NIGERIA. Last but not least." But there was no response. the little public hall was crowded with negroes of every class and condition. and this he readily agreed to do. "Come on." he said. "Come. stick--but not spats! At the beginning of the performance Dr. shirts--no trousers. platform. to time I have numbered amongst my customers many so called native "witch doctors. who was sitting in the front of the hall.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:08 PM] . Dr. came the "mob" consisting of those natives whose uniform was the ubiquitous top hat. Neale asked if he could borrow a top hat from one of the audience. who is perhaps. Neale had been sent out to the West Coast on Government work in connection with the public health of the colony. Neale created a mild sensation by borrowing the prince's turban. he noticed that the natives grasped their hats firmly by the rims. "Come and sit on the. ALTHOUGH from time. and restoring it to the owner in an undamaged condition. Neale. Soon after his arrival. and an hour before the performance was due to begin. For his next trick." he invited. and held them down to the ground. shirt. A." I have never experienced the pleasure--for a pleasure it undoubtedly is--of performing before natives in their own country. Most of the best seats had been booked for a prince. At last he was compelled to beckon to a huge fellow with a face as black as ebony. cutting it in two. To his surprise. The show was well advertised. approaching to the front of the stage. has told me of a most amusing experience which he had with an African audience. Jim." http://thelearnedpig. "I promise to return any hat that I borrow quite undamaged. mark you--and spats. E. who attended with his full harem of forty wives. the finest amateur conjurer in England. he was asked to give a performance in aid of a local charity. not to forget the little whangee that it's the ambition of most natives to possess.

How Magic is Accepted in Nigeria

After a good deal of persuasion, the negro reluctantly made his way to the platform. "Now," said Dr. Neale with a winning smile, "let me borrow your hat." "No, massa," was the hasty reply. "Not ma hat. Dis am ma best one. Yo' can't hab dis." "But I give you my word of honour I will give it back to you quite undamaged, or buy you a brand new one." At these words Jim appeared to be less obstinate, and eventually handed over his hat. But his eyes opened wide as he followed the conjurer's movements. Without the slightest hesitation, Dr. Neale broke two eggs and poured the yolks into the hat. He then proceeded to add flour and spirits of wine before beating the mixture with a wooden spoon. Lastly, he took a match and set the sticky mass alight. Jim's anxiety was most pitiable. "Massa, Massa," he cried. "Yo' gone done ruined ma hat. Yo' set um alight wid de mess. Oh, ma hat, ma hat!" Dr. Neale attempted to comfort the negro by assuring him that his hat was entirely undamaged, and would be restored to him in due course. But Jim took little notice. He pressed his hands to his ears and rocked his head dismally to and fro. "Ma hat! Ma hat!" he cried. The poor fellow's discomfort was a source of great delight to the rest of the audience. They screamed and hooted, jeered and shouted. "Jim yo' is one big fool. Yo' hat am sure finished," they yelled. The hubbub only ceased when Dr. Neale produced a beautiful home-made cake from the interior of the hat. Jim stared in wonderment, and then snatched hastily at his headwear to see what damage had been caused. As Dr. Neale had promised, it was entirely unharmed. The conjurer then proceeded to cut the cake into several small portions, one of which he offered to his unwilling assistant. Jim took it, but shook his head sadly when assured that it was quite eatable. "No can cat dis, Doc," he said. "Dis am magic cake. And dese here ain't currants, deys pieces of cloth." "Rubbish," said the doctor. "Of course you can eat it. It's just an ordinary cake. You've seen me make it yourself." "Ah'll tell, you in de morning whether it am magic or not," said the negro, regarding his slice with suspicion. And no amount of persuasion on the conjurer's part could induce the bewildered Jim to take a mouthful of the (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:08 PM]

How Magic is Accepted in Nigeria

cake. On the following day, Dr. Neale met Jim in the main street of the town. "Yo's right, doc," said the negro. "Dat was no magic cake, it sure was fine to eat." "Of course it was. But what made you change your mind?" Jim explained. His test had been simple but effective. When he had reached home the previous night, he placed the cake under his pillow. In the morning, he had observed a stream of ants going to and from the doorway to his bed. On lifting up the pillow, he discovered the cake swarming with the insects, and without hesitation, had placed it in his mouth--ants and all. "If ant eat dat cake so can Jim. Yo' can no fool ants," he explained, grinning from ear to ear.
Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:08 PM]

Murray--His Greatest Escape

Sensational Tales of Mystery Men
by Will Goldston
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IN SEPTEMBER, 1924, Murray, the well known Australian escapologist,
was working at the Apollo Theatre, Shanghai. He had a successful week's run, but on the final night there occurred an incident, which, although not of great interest in itself, was to provide the first chapter of one of the most amazing and startling true-life stories that has reached my ears. As I have said, it was Murray's last appearance in Shanghai. just before the curtain was due to fall, a man sitting in the stalls rose to his feet and challenged the performer's ability. "Murray, you are very clever," he said. "You have escaped from your chains and boxes here this evening, but I do not consider that extremely difficult. You use the same things every day, and are familiar with them. It would be a very different matter to escape from somewhere you have never been. "In my office in this city I have a strong-room. I challenge you to escape from that room. If you succeed I will pay you the sum of five hundred dollars. If you fail, it will cost you nothing. What do you say?" Murray thought rapidly. He had no further bookings in Shanghai. Therefore, if he failed to escape from the strongroom, his reputation would be very little damaged. On the other hand, he might succeed, in which case he would be five hundred dollars better off. Yes, it was worth taking the risk. "I accept your challenge, sir," he said. If you will let me know your address, I shall be pleased to attend at ten o'clock to-morrow morning." There was a round of applause at this bold statement. The challenger bowed his thanks, gave Murray his address, and intimated that he would be prepared to receive him on the morrow at the appointed hour. When Murray arrived at the office on the following morning, it was obvious that preparations had been made for his reception. The strong-room door was standing ajar, and had been thoroughly examined beforehand by half a dozen journalists who were gathered together in the outer office. The escapologist greeted his challenger cheerily. (1 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:09 PM]

wondering what he might expect next from this strange man. "I should want a financial when his companion began speaking rapidly. you are a clever man. "It is better that you travel in disguise." replied the loser. what does it matter?" Wherever we go. Here is your cheque for five hundred dollars. He was dressed in the garb of a Russian peasant. "It wasn't very difficult. I must examine you. These pressmen will assist me. Five minutes later Murray had escaped. no. "For one http://thelearnedpig. "I thought you were a fraud. Perhaps you have discovered that I am a Russian. "Mr. "Good day. you can't. On the other hand." he said." Vinoff had assured him. both men caught the western-bound express." returned Murray. I myself will give you a guarantee of thirty thousand dollars. When the examiners were satisfied that he had no implements concealed in his clothing. sir.html (2 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:09 PM] ." After some further discussion. and was thoroughly searched. I don't mind losing in the least. I hope you have had an enjoyable morning." The thinly veiled hint was taken. they pushed him forward into the strong-room. for you have more than proved your ability. Now I tell you frankly I am interested in you. and turned the key. As for the theatres--well. "Why on earth did you challenge me to open a door like that?" "Well." returned the other warmly. Murray agreed to accept Vinoff's offer. and the Russian seemed confident that the project would prove a success. How would you like to tour for three months in Siberia?" "That's no good to me. and that my name is Vinoff." Murray saw no point in objecting to this proposal." He turned suddenly to the waiting pressmen. He received the congratulations of the journalists and his challenger with good grace. you see. modestly.Murray--His Greatest Escape "Good morning. Thirty thousand dollars was a large sum of money. almost unintelligibly. But of my business you know nothing. gentlemen. The door had hardly closed behind the last of the newspaper men." he smiled." "You need not worry about the money. Besides. I am certain we should play to big business. "Perhaps I might examine the locks of the strongroom door?" "Oh. "That's not in the rules. But those who had seen Murray in Shanghai would not have recognized him now. Murray waited in silence. I don't know what the theatres are like in Siberia. Two days later. The locks were not difficult.

In the first place you are deaf and dumb. Now what is it to be?" Murray thought for a (3 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:09 PM] . They were greeted by a group of half a dozen other Russians who were evidently delighted at their confederate's success in securing Murray's services. you must take the risk. the horses drew up at an imposing white building. It will be as much as your life is worth. I will shoot you where you sit. they were met by a sleigh. Vinoff's manner changed. for they lived like tramps. And." he said at last. I can lead you to the house where they are locked. He had no idea of his whereabouts. "You won't have to do any we do not want unpleasant inquiries on our journey." replied the Russian. And then again. If you refuse to do what I ask. and eating only salt herrings and stale brown bread. If anyone hears you speak in English. "I must tell you the truth about this business. "Are you suggesting that I turn housebreaker? Supposing I cannot find the papers. After several days tramping in a northerly direction. you will have to break in and get at the safe. Murray lost all sense of time and direction. The performer frankly admits that he was scared. do not attempt to trick us. or that I am caught stealing them? I can escape from a strong room easily enough." But once the train had crossed the border. lastly. but the Soviet Government have certain documents in their possession which I must obtain. Murray and his companion alighted at a small wayside station. man?" exclaimed Murray. From that moment. The party evidently had very little money at their command. they may become suspicious. and the http://thelearnedpig.Murray--His Greatest Escape thing it will mean better business for us--as a Russian you will be a bigger drawing card than as a foreigner. I promised you thirty thousand dollar's for your work. "But there are two things which you must remember. and the effort of playing the part of a deaf mute was proving a greater strain than he had at first imagined. After what seemed several days. sleeping under hedges and barns. but I can't escape from a bullet. Murray." he said. I am a Russian royalist. The Soviet are suspicious of all foreigners." "I don't fancy the task will prove difficult. As for the danger--well. "I am not a theatrical promoter--I don't know the first thing about the business. You shall have it. but was probably only a few hours." After a further day in the train. "Excellent." "Good heavens. I have no option. surrounded by a large expanse of snow covered parkland. Save for the champing of the horses. When you hand me the papers you will receive your payment.

We shall have to read those papers before we know which we can take away. and the party made their way into a large deserted hall. Murray was called upon to open six more doors before they came to the safe. When the door was opened. and soon yielded to Murray's persuasive fingers The door swung open. It was built into the wall. That action probably saved Murray's life. He suddenly recalled the old scheme of pouring alcohol on an envelope in order to read the contents." "I can't perform miracles. not mine.html (4 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:09 PM] ." As he spoke. "I know exactly where the papers are to be found. "Ah. After more than two hours' manipulation. there was not a sound to be heard. That's your business. It was like a house of death. "This is the first lock." he said. He was saved! http://thelearnedpig. The sight of the alcohol bottle awakened a childhood memory." The door presented no difficulty to the escapologist." protested Murray. Some of the men carried small electric torches with shielded bulbs which reduced the reflection of light to a minimum. but their expressions gave him no hope. as he peered at the several rows of packages. "That's just a trifle awkward. Vinoff turned to Murray. the safe was found to be filled with a large number of sealed white envelopes." exclaimed Vinoff. Murray's plight was desperate. your life won't be worth living." He walked over to the front door of the house. probably from rust and age. the bolts slid back with a faint click. Except that the locks were stiff. "I've opened the safe for you. Vinoff brandished a revolver dramatically in the air. the others following at his heels. Get ahead with that. and the door was covered with a number of locks of various sizes and patterns. How do you expect me to open envelopes that have been sealed?" "I haven't the faintest idea. You must open the envelopes without breaking the seal. But the safe proved a more intricate problem. "This is where you get busy. One of them produced a vodka bottle which he passed round to the others after helping Murray discovered that all the locks were controlled by a master lock situated in the centre of the door. He looked appealingly at the other men. We must never let the Soviet know they have been tampered with. he had little difficulty in carrying out Vinoft's orders. After a brief examination. It was fastened with an old-fashioned mortice lock.Murray--His Greatest Escape murmuring of the Russians. But if you haven't thought out a scheme in five

In a few seconds the paper became transparent. "Be careful to leave each door as you found it. and left to his own devices. But there was no sign of the wanted documents. Let us not stay too long. "I suppose I must be thankful to have escaped with my life." said Vinoff at" cried Vinoff excitedly. "We must try each envelope until we come to those I want.html (5 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:09 PM] . "Come.Murray--His Greatest Escape He took an envelope from the safe." Carefully and systematically. He was escorted back to the frontier. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. they tested every envelope in the safe. The Russians swore long and fluently in their native language. and smeared it with two or three drops of philosophically. "That is a splendid idea. and it was possible to see the writing on the document inside. hastily thanked for his services." Murray never received payment for his share in the enterprise." he says.

Early in the month of February. however. Montreal. I have been hypnotised.How Zomah Delayed a Murder Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HOW ZOMAH DELAYED A MURDER. It is something far. "I'm pleased to meet you." said Zomah. conveyed nothing to the thought reader. The door attendant went on to explain that the Major seemed extremely agitated. and introduced himself as Major Griffith. Zomah consented to see the man. More out of curiosity than anything else. and stated that a man was waiting who insisted on being granted an interview. he was completely dominated by Holland's personality. http://thelearnedpig. I am the plaything of another man's will. Griffith. Their almost incredible feats have startled audiences in England and the American continent for many years past. come to borrow money. It appeared that. Holland." which were written on the strip of pasteboard. they were performing at the Princes' Theatre. he had attended an amateur theatrical performance at Sainte Agathe. A certain Williarn" he said. I wish to God it was only a question of finance that was worrying me. In response to the performer's cheery "Come in.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:11 PM] . 1920. "Mr. Can you help me?" "Please explain. a prominent stockbroker. Zomah. for. From that moment the unfortunate Major had never known a moment's happiness. But the words "Major Robert M. Major Griffith explained. had been present and had hypnotised Griffith. THE Zomahs are undoubtedly the greatest professional thought readers the world has ever known. the stage door attendant presented a card to Mr. Within a few seconds there was a tap on the door. Zomah. a short time previously. and many experts have confessed themselves completely baffled by their so he said." a tall middleaged man entered the room. "What can I do for you?" Major Griffith played nervously with the brim of his hat. far worse. After their evening show was finished. I have not. "I am in very great trouble. extremely puzzled." said Zomah.

so far as the Zomahs are concerned is the end of the story." said Zomah. you must forget that such a man as Holland ever existed. But to me the whole story reads like a drama quite worthy of the pen of Conan Doyle or Edgar Wallace. it is quite obvious that your will is too weak to cope with the power that this man has put over you. Major Griffith murdered William Holland by shooting him through the heart. Why. but something must be done. and took his departure in a much happier state of mind. he informed the thought reader that he had quite thrown off the uncanny influence that had been placed over him. and determined to carry out his threat of murder. With my help. after. As a result. thinking it best to humour his strange He had lunch. But twelve months later there was a sudden and dramatic sequel which might well have been taken from a Lyceum melodrama. Mr. a few months. Whether Griffith's fears were real or imaginary will never be known. but was refused admission. Major. because I have seen your performance. I have come to ask your advice!" "I certainly can help you. 1921. That. "I don't know exactly. But.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:11 PM] . Accompanied by a man called Coffee--who seemed to be in entire ignorance of Griffith's intentions--he called at Holland's office. From henceforward. But. I was on my way to the office. In January. however.How Zomah Delayed a Murder "What do you want me to do?" asked Zomah." Griffith lowered his voice dramatically. That man haunts me night and day. only two days ago. because I can will you to strengthen your own determination. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. you will be able to more than hold your he was healthier both in mind and body. Holland was shot through the heart whilst sitting at ease in his office chair. the major had again felt himself to be under the hypnotic curse. and was anxious to get ahead with it as soon as possible. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction. I had to return home. and called again." "Why?" Because Holland had willed it." Major Griffith was profuse in his thanks. I had a heavy day's work in front of me. who wondered whether he was addressing a madman. and believe you to be possessed of some supernatural power. A few days later. Zomah. "At the moment." replied Griffith. This time he made no mistake. "If you cannot help me. But it was no good. It can only be assumed that for a short time Griffith had been persuaded he was free from Holland's influence. I will shoot him like a dog.

com.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:11 PM] .pa/magos/books/goldston/40.How Zomah Delayed a Murder http://thelearnedpig.

His real name was Louis Morgenstein. he lost his nerve entirely. however. put Carl out as assistant at a neighbouring store. Curiously enough. This he did without any professional tuition. where he had to fire a revolver. and practised so assiduously that in a very short while he felt confident that he could present quite a passable public performance. He had decided to become a magician. and threatened that. and was determined that his son should be in the same trade. His father. and he lost several other good posts for the same all his conjuring apparatus would be destroyed.html (1 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:13 PM] . From this position he was sacked for demonstrating conjuring tricks during business had other ideas. and his stage fright was so obvious that the audience hooted him off the platform. Carl's determination to succeed carried him through a thousand troubles and eventually enabled him to reach the foremost rank of his profession. having sold up his own business. This threat they afterwards carried out. But now he was faced with his greatest difficulty. But that one performance had so impressed him that he decided then and there to change his vocation. His parents became much alarmed at his continual failures. Carl. and is a triumph of pluck and perseverance. and he was born of Jewish parents about sixty-five years ago in San Francisco. The bullet clipped the ear of a man standing in the wings. His father owned a dry goods store in one of the meaner parts of the town.Carl Hertz the Imitator Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page CARL HERTZ THE IMITATOR. The story of his rise to fame is as romantic as any fairy story from Grimm. All his tricks went wrong. unless he could put his mind to his business. Who would engage him? This was only one of the many problems which beset him. and fired a weapon containing a live cartridge. it was not until he had seen a conjuring performance by the Great Hermann that Carl's thoughts definitely turned towards magic. and it was only by a http://thelearnedpig. In one trick. CARL Hertz will be remembered as one of the greatest American magicians of all time. His first step was to learn a few tricks. Carl's first appearance on the stage (as an amateur) was a dismal failure.

and when they realised that four artists were attempting to play every part in the opera. We're doing 'H. where he was determined to try his luck as a single turn. "But hang it all.M. this time from a well-known manager who was sending a company to tour the mining towns. He joined a touring company bound for the towns of Southern California.html (2 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:13 PM] . against his parents' wishes. But a few months later he was offered a professional engagement which. made cat calls. "What's this?" asked Carl. The next day the company returned to San Francisco. The manager told him. The manager absconded. Please yourself. so you may as well play opera instead. that other artists were on their way. Carl was forced to return to the dry goods trade. He surprised his parents by working exceptionally hard. he packed up his apparatus. The tour lasted exactly two days. In a short while he received another offer. "Your part. "You either play the part of Dick Deadeye. but there was worse to follow. To his utter astonishment he found only two actors and an actress waiting to receive him. the actors retired. After several attempts to gain a hearing. and handed him several sheets of closely written manuscript. and they had hopes that he would settle down and lead the normal life of a business. and had no option." Carl was almost broke. man." "Rubbish! You don't know anything about magic. and set off for Petaluma where the show was due to open." was the short reply. Bitterly disappointed." "I can't sing a note! I absolutely refuse." The manager dismissed his protests with an airy wave of the hand. The or else start walking home. he was giving conjuring performances at private houses and charity shows. which had been widely advertised as "A Special Show by Gilbert & Sullivan's 'Pinafore' Company" was a fiasco." "Listen. This was a bad start. As it was." he University students attended in force. When he had saved sufficient money. In reality. he was saving to pay his fare to Kansas City. and the curtain was rung down. Pinafore'. he decided to accept. They booed.Carl Hertz the Imitator miracle that the young conjurer did not stand a trial for manslaughter. In the meantime. he vowed he would never again appear in public. Carl signed up the contract. "I'm a conjurer. and was gaining confidence and skill. and eventually started throwing eggs. and Carl was forced to pawn his gold cuff-links in order to pay his fare back to San Francisco. and started on the three-thousand-mile journey to http://thelearnedpig. there was almost a riot. Carl gaped open-mouthed.S.

known as the "The Boston One Price Clothing Store. and as he was travelling in the height of summer. when he noticed a young man in shirt sleeves giving instructions to another man who was dressing the windows of an adjoining shop. "My luggage is being sent on in due course." he told me forty years afterwards. let alone "That journey was the worst experience of my life." Carl. Get your luggage sent along to my rooms. For eleven days he suffered the worst discomforts imaginable. I guess you'll have to wait awhile. it remains a vivid nightmare. and almost before he realised it. The theatre is being repaired. more likely than not he would have returned home. started a conversation. His food consisted of canned meats and vegetables. his first since leaving San Francisco." he remarked. he had told the other of his theatrical ambitions. and won't be finished for another three weeks." he explained to the suspicious booking clerk. He straightway handed in his notice at the hotel. and haven't enough money to pay for one week. and might well have finished his days behind the shop counters which he hated so much.html (3 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:13 PM] . and moved his luggage and his precious bundle of tricks to a small room at the back of the clothing store. That same evening he was lounging outside the hotel entrance." When he arrived at his destination. the conditions became well-nigh unbearable." Carl was not slow to take advantage of his new friend's kindness. he went to the best hotel in the town. he jumped from the train and had a hurried wash. I don't know how I endured it. "So you want to get on at the Theatre Comique?" asked the shop assistant." "That's alright. Had it not been for Hano's generosity. I happen to have taken a liking to you." Carl whistled. "That's bad. "Even though it was so long ago. who felt badly in need of human companionship. who had introduced himself as Hano. and reserved a room. I can fix you up until your engagement starts. The emigrant train which he boarded was dirty and smelly. Then." returned Hano. which his mother had thoughtfully bound up into a hamper. and of the many disappointments which had come his way. after a meal which he ate so quickly that he was troubled with indigestion for a week afterwards. "I'm staying at the best hotel in the town. "You clear out of that hotel right now.Carl Hertz the Imitator the west. and I reckon you'll make a success. "Well.

Flushed with" said the great man. the Liverpool managers would not look at him. "So you're a great conjurer. "What's your price?" "Sixty dollars a week." Carl gave a demonstration.html (4 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:13 PM] . and was relieved to observe that the manager seemed impressed. In July." On one occasion. I've never heard of you. His performance was well received. As a result. "That's enough. although he assured them he had definitely established himself as one of America's leading magicians. as news of his northern triumph had already trickled south. more in disgust that in anger. he had no difficulty in http://thelearnedpig. As a sacrifice." "That's equally absurd. His performance met with extraordinary success. I can come down to fifty. So. He filled in the three weeks before his engagement by doing various odd jobs in the "Boston One Price Clothing Store. Strangely enough. I might pay you thirty." But at last everything was arranged amicably. In 1884." he said by way of introduction. are you? Well. he obtained further engagements which lasted for another twelve months." "That's absurd." "Far too high. and. and the manager was so delighted that he extended the contract for a further fortnight. he sailed for Liverpool with the intention of remaining a few months. and this he did with such success that the proprietor begged him to give up the idea of stage life. Nor has anyone else I daresay. and he was engaged for a further fortnight. Meanwhile the conjurer wrote to agents in all parts of the United States. offering him an excellent salary as chief window dresser to the firm. Actually he stopped three years. where he persuaded a manager to book him for one week on the understanding that if he were a failure there was to be no payment." The manager smiled thoughtfully. he travelled on to Manchester. he came to London. I'll hang on if you care to engage me for a Carl decided to visit England. Carl declined with thanks.Carl Hertz the Imitator On the following morning the young conjurer set out to visit the manager of the Theatre Comique. the great conjurer. he was allowed to dress the window. "I'm Carl Hertz. "I believe you're re-opening in three weeks. Needless to say. Let's see what you can do. enclosing his programme and several press cuttings in praise of his Kansas City performance. Carl was engaged for one week at forty dollars. when he had become a popular figure in America. a figure which was then considered excellent payment.

he seemed to lose all his old artistry and showmanship. and indeed. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. and used it as his own trick. He altered a few of the details of the 'Vanishing Lady. Carl saw de Kolta's performance. and came away greatly impressed.' re-named it. He purchased a number of new illusions from From that moment.html (5 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:13 PM] . at the beginning of this century. This was a great mistake. is the romantic story of his rise to fame. he found himself famous.Carl Hertz the Imitator obtaining further bookings. He was content to appear at second class theatres. Hertz saw Goldin's performance. and decided to alter the whole of his programme. and lost caste not only amongst his brother magicians. a well-known German manufacturer. it is doubtful if he would have secured engagements at all. had it not been for his wonderful bird-cage trick. This trick was different from anything. and realised that he had now a serious rival. that the American's position was seriously challenged. Carl soon lost the reputation which had cost him so much to build. He became panic stricken. and within a comparatively short space of Basch was no inventor. that had been seen before. and it was not until Horace Goldin first appeared here. Clever mechanic though he was. He created a profound sensation in all the towns he visited. It was at this time that Beautier de Kolta was astonishing audiences at the Trocadero with his celebrated "Vanishing Lady" illusion. in brief. He became known as an imitator. but with theatrical managers as well. For nearly twenty years he remained the undisputed king of vaudeville magicians. and was the talk of all London. That. and obtained the ideas for his illusions from the programmes of the best Continental performers. Anxious not to miss anything which might be of use to him.

he would only need to hire the wood. He next asked a Chinese builder to estimate for constructing a temporary wooden theatre. sir. Carl thought this a splendid idea. To Carl's intense surprise. An exceedingly original idea now struck him. he went to China. and he had given the matter no further thought. But when he arrived at the eastern port. Consequently. At the time he had not been able to understand why this land had not been put to some useful purpose. Hertz was careful to explain that he would require the theatre for one month only. This was something of a blow. but other affairs had come along. however. he was told that he could have the use of the land rent free. for he had reckoned on making a useful pile of money from his Shanghai performances. IN THE course of his long and successful" "Can't you give me some idea?" persisted Carl. He found the owner of the land. Since one native play often takes several weeks to perform. Always a clever business man. "Who can say how much it will cost?" he said. he was assured. he had noticed a large strip of wasteland which was situated conveniently near the main roads. Luck was with him. and asked him how much he would charge to let out the land for one month. I have never built anything so large before. It was while he was in this country that he was advised to go to Shanghai where.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:15 PM] ." http://thelearnedpig. Carl Hertz received many offers to tour the world. "That is very difficult. he would be well received. he was dismayed to learn that the only theatre in the town was occupied by a Chinese company. In the course of his walks through the town. On the first of these.The World's Cheapest Theatre Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE WORLD'S CHEAPEST THEATRE. The builder thought for a moment. "It will require a large staff of men and much wood. and had little difficulty in making himself popular with the audiences. knew that it was hopeless to wait on until the theatre was free.

The clerk smiled. "How much is it? How much is it?" he Hertz was well pleased with the result. Carl's eyes almost fell from his head when he saw it. Poor Carl was hopping about like a cat on hot bricks. cursing himself for his folly in allowing himself to be swindled by a rascally native. He immediately sent for a clerk from a nearby bank in order to find out exactly how much he would have to pay in English money." Ten pounds! Carl's theatre was surely the cheapest and most rapidly constructed in the history of drama. "Make your bill as small as possible. and intimated as much to the builder." he replied. In fact the whole tour was a wonderful financial success. and within two weeks the giant wooden building was completed. For a whole month he played to capacity. he produced a length of stick around which several yards of paper were rolled." he said. "I am glad you like it. "I cannot tell you exactly. and examined each of the figures in turn. A large number of men was employed. I have the honour to present you with the bill. for it was covered with a number of minute Chinese figures which he reckoned must indicate several thousands of pounds. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. "But it is something in the neighbourhood of £10. due chiefly to Hertz's keen business acumen.The World's Cheapest Theatre Carl took the bull by the horns. and came away from Shanghai considerably richer for his enterprise. On his second world tour he incorporated a cinematograph show in his programme--this was then something of a novelty-and more than doubled his previous earnings." replied the latter. and let me have it afterwards. "Thank you." The work was soon in hand. "Build it anyway.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:15 PM] ." As he spoke. sir. The bank clerk carefully unrolled the scroll.

they would have shaken him warmly by the hand. I've roped in a few friends to form a syndicate. it's too good to be true.Hertz and his Monte Carlo Sindicate Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HERTZ AND HIS MONTE CARLO SYNDICATE. It was an obsession--one might almost say a mania. he would never admit that he had fai led." Two months later Hertz was again in my office. "Your scheme sounds wonderful. "Oh. and we're going to Monte Carlo to make our fortunes. "No need to ask you if you won. "You must come in on this. Betting was to Hertz what a candle is to a moth. all right." "Don't be an idiot. and here I am. Without it. There was. Will. although to my certain knowledge he lost many hundreds of pounds." "I don't mind. Will. Carl. On one occasion he discovered a "system" for beating the bank at Monte Carlo. "It's an absolute If the directors of the famous Casino could have heard him. Just as you please." I replied. so count me out. It works like this?" And he went on to describe his idea. The system can't fail. I'm sure there's a catch in it somewhere. And. I shall be the first to congratulate you when you come back." "You're missing the chance of a lifetime. But some of the others wanted to get back. I've heard of these infallible schemes before. he would have lost all interest in life. however. This thing's--" "No thanks." http://thelearnedpig. "Thank you. In fact. I HAVE already said that Carl Hertz was a wonderfully astute business man. I" was his stock reply to all queries with regard to his gambling ventures. Carl?" I smiled. "Of course I won.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:15 PM] ." he said. we won alright. He was a born gambler. one flaw in his character which might easily have proved his downfall." "Oh.

html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:15 PM] .pa/magos/books/goldston/43. one of those others had told me that Carl had lost several thousand francs! Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page and his Monte Carlo Sindicate I kept a discreet silence. But only the day previously.

Carl Hertz and the Bird Cage Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page CARL HERTZ AND THE BIRD CAGE. of course. "Don't look so downhearted." I said in my cheeriest manner. Things looked serious. Now that the whole business is finished. As luck would have it. in the late summer of 1921. and even went so far as to demonstrate the oval cage trick in our presence. And it was at this time that Carl Hertz was performing the same trick with so much success. more than anything else. The only difference was. "This will be the finish of me. in the shape of the cage. "I am sure this affair will turn out for your good. Smith did not believe me. Will. I had described the trick as performed with an oval bird cage. Smith approached Hertz. The canary escaped." he replied despondently. Hertz called again at my office on the following day. In my book. there was a good deal of apprehension among many unscrupulous animal trainers in this country. If anything goes wrong. however." In order to gain time. one of the persons interested in the passing of the Act--a man named Smith-happened to read an old book of mine in which I had described the disappearing bird cage trick. I arranged a meeting at which both men were to be present. and threatened to expose (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:19 PM] ." http://thelearnedpig. They have asked me to demonstrate the trick at the House of saved Carl's reputation. That fact. When. and probably starved to death." "They are going to expose me. Incidentally he made a hash of it. that the American magician actually did kill and injure a large number of birds in his illusion. and in vulgar language. Carl. a certain respected public body was endeavouring to legalise an Act preventing animals taking part in public performances. But the demonstration gave us time to think things over. Hertz always used a square cage. Carl "had the wind up. I tried to save Hertz by explaining that the trick I had described was quite different from that used by the American. I shall be ruined. I can do no harm in mentioning the fact.

But he refused to be comforted. The papers could not forget the incident. If you take care. "It's the most wonderful piece of luck that you've ever had." Within an hour I had constructed a small cage.Carl Hertz and the Bird Cage "Rubbish. he seemed to forget that he was a man on trial so to speak. When the dreaded hour came. and could only speak of the tremendous risk he was from beneath his coat. however. and he was not slow to take advantage of it. the wire bars being represented by lengths of fishing line. If Carl had collected all the news cuttings which appeared about him. and became once more the polished conjuror. quite unharmed. I can make you a cage right now that will not injure the bird. As Carl was very nervous on the day of the demonstration. I arranged a fine mesh hair net on the inside of the cage. he vanished the cage.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:19 PM] . and produced the canary. man!" I exclaimed. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. His natural gift for showmanship had pulled him through. suave and confident. and assured him that the show would prove a tremendous success. Think of the tremendous publicity!" "But supposing--" "Don't suppose. It was the finest free advertisement any magician has ever had. he could have papered the walls of his house four times over. so that the canary should not injure its wings against the cane supports. It was built up on a framework of cane strips. I had a long talk with nothing will go wrong. Before the astonished eyes of a Select Committee.

If he saw an illusion which appealed to him. and many of his finest and most bewildering illusions were inspired by private visits to this country. strange as it may seem. he would find out. Kellar departed from all the accepted rules of honesty and fair play when it came to choosing tricks for his programme. Shortly afterwards Kellar staged "The Blue Room Mystery" in America with all the polish and effect of his rival's London show! About the year 1904. coupled with a most delightful personality. He was a man who knew his work from A to Z. He had seen Paul Valadon perform at the Egyptian Hall. and http://thelearnedpig. If his preliminary overture failed. he would incorporate it in his own programme. Kellar. if not by fair means. when Hercat was performing the famous "Blue Room Mystery" in London with considerable success. who was visiting this country at the time. made him an exceedingly popular figure on the American stage. Kellar was an excellent business man. Then. But that didn't worry Harry in the then by foul. He was growing old then. it is doubtful if America ever produced a finer or more clever showman than Harry Kellar. and felt the time had come when he should choose a man to carry on his work when he himself went into a well earned retirement. and decided the trick would do splendidly for presentation in the States. WITH the possible exception of But. I have never yet met the man who saw him play to a poor house. either by bribery or close observation. he would get it.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:19 PM] . but the latter--a keen business man also--refused to listen to his proposals. but his name was well known here. Piccadilly. I will do him justice by saying that he always first attempted to strike an honest bargain over such deals. when a suitable period had elapsed. His confidence in this scheme was amply justified.Harry Kellar's Search for a Successor Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page HARRY KELLAR'S SEARCH FOR A SUCCESSOR. He never performed in England. saw Hercat's show. and conceived the idea of running his own road show. and he amassed a considerable fortune by touring the larger towns of the United States. I can remember such an occasion about thirty years ago. how the trick was performed. Kellar decided to look for a successor. He approached Hercat with a view to buying the mystery. and his ability.

Thurston has carried out his task nobly and well. although a very able conjuror. After much deliberation he picked on Howard Thurston. of course. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. and.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:19 PM] .Harry Kellar's Search for a Successor immediately for decided that here was the man whom he was seeking. I wish him The scheme was an utter and re-started his search for a man to carry on his work. he demonstrated his petulance in no uncertain manner. I understand that he in turn is seeking someone to carry on the work. as far as I know. jumped at Kellar's offer. The older magician promised to teach him his illusions. This time he was more fortunate. and quarrels were frequent. he forthwith "sacked" Valadon. Harry suddenly found he had backed a loser. The older man could not see eye to eye with him on many matters. naturally enough." It was understood. that any new illusions that were added to the programme were to be performed in the true Harry Kellar tradition. Valadon. and introduce him to American audiences as "Harry Kellar's Successor. Not long after the partnership had started. and incidentally has netted a useful fortune for himself. never had reason to regret his choice. and few people' were able to bear his company for any length of time. Valadon. possessed a violent temper. and trust he will be as fortunate as was Kellar in choosing himself.

you might ask. and was skilled in most matters appertaining to machinery. He understood the great power of the Press. At that time the celebrated Davenport Brothers were at the height of their fame. a tailor's apprentice. neither considered himself sufficiently expert to earn a living by the art. John Nevil Maskelyne was a showman to his finger tips. and it was on these effects that he built up his great reputation. It was a pure accident which led. thus plunging the stage into darkness. and which has turned many a mediocre production into a startling success. and their hands filled with flour. his greatest friend was Cooke. for. a conjurer. Both the performers were bound to chairs. The lights of the theatre were extinguished. he specialised mainly in mechanical illusions." which many people believed was a genuine exhibition of psychic phenomena. these two young men to consider the possibilities of becoming professional magicians. How and their visit to Cheltenham excited much interest.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:20 PM] . and both of them studied magic as a spare-time hobby. that indefinable quality without which the cleverest performance will be a failure. He invented a great number of clever illusions. He was not. This is not to be wondered at. In those early days. a board. although they were both keen amateurs. he did anything to bring his name before the public. and. did he make his name famous throughout the world as England's greatest magician? It was showmanship. like Houdini in later years. They were put inside a cabinet. strictly speaking. a number of musical instruments. a John Nevil Maskelyne a Genius Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page WAS JOHN NEVIL MASKELYNE A GENIUS? WAS John Nevil Maskelyne a genius? Yes--but not a magical genius. and between them was placed a stool on which stood a glass of water. and some nails. Although his manipulation of the spinning bowls was extremely expert. They were then performing their celebrated "spirit séance. for he first went into business as a clockmaker at Cheltenham. their wrists were tied. http://thelearnedpig.

Was John Nevil Maskelyne a Genius Less than a minute afterwards. He saw them slip their ropes. Such men as Devant. and remove their coats. but a faint ray of light thrown on to the stage from an uncurtained window gave him the secret. Maskelyne had learnt much. but half way through the "séance" the curtain slipped down unnoticed. This unforeseen accident permitted Maskelyne to watch the Davenports' movements.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:20 PM] . This was in 1865. mystic atmosphere which I have never encountered elsewhere. This insight into the working of a professional illusion set Maskelyne thinking. a fatherly style which appealed http://thelearnedpig. Piccadilly. they took the flour again from their pockets. it was found that the nails had been driven into the board. When the "séance" was completed. a distinct sound of hammering was heard to come from the cabinet. for their wrists were still tied. Maskelyne had no idea how the trick was" Maskelyne did much to heighten this strange effect. but was beginning to develop those gifts for shwmanship which were later to make him world-famous. The performers had apparently not moved. In this he showed extreme cleverness. and by calling it "England's Home of Mystery. and the flour in their hands was not spilled. London. the musical instruments had been disturbed. His idea was to run for two or three months in London. and the water in the glass had vanished. In those eight years in the provinces. They played on the instruments. When the lights were turned up. Maskelyne made his name. James' hammered the nails to the board. drank the water. Shortly afterwards he decided to become a professional magician. James' Hall. De Kolta." But he and Cooke made so much money from their short stay at the St. but he had charge of all the costumes and sceneries in the act. The Davenports had ordered that the window should be covered. and put their coats on inside out. The latter played only an assistant's part on the stage. and then silence reigned again. not so much by his own perfomances. but it was not until eight years afterwards that they accumulated sufficient capital to enable them to take a lease of the St. for the latter theatre was ideally suited for a magical entertainment. For Maskelyne. and Charles Morritt did more to build up the reputation of the theatre than either of the two proprietors. Paul Valadon. The musical instruments were played in expert fashion. as by those of the great conjurers whom he engaged to assist him at the Egyptian Hall. It had a quaint. that he decided to take a long lease of the Egyptian Hall. and then return to the provinces as "Maskelyne--The Great London Magician. and replaced their hands into the sliding loops of the ropes. carefully place the flour in their pockets. it must be said he had a friendly and intimate manner of putting over his illusions. But their coats had been turned inside out. He was as yet an unknown name in England. and Cooke agreed to become his partner.

He opened with a play called "The Race. He was not in the least disheartened. The libel case which Archdeacon Colley brought against Maskelyne will still be remembered by many. and he lost every farthing he had put into the venture. and added a few words which were a gross libel on the famous prelate. are still carrying on the family traditions at St. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. and his son Nevil has since joined him on the other side. but Jasper and Mary Maskelyne. soon attracted the same crowded houses he had drawn at the Egyptian Hall. Maskelyne would not disclose his secret. Two magical mechanics claimed to have done so. On the death of Cooke. George's Hall. On the occasion of Queen Victoria's jubilee procession. Curiously enough. A court case ensued which was finally taken to the House of Lords. he stated he could produce by mechanical means the effect seen by Archdeacon Colley. And. On this occasion. George's Hall. by returning to his illusions. and was forced to pay.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:20 PM] . In 1905. and Maskelyne moved to the present headquarters of the family. and Maskelyne knew that the publicity he received was worth far more than the money he had been forced to part with." which was a disastrous failure. The case aroused enormous interest. but Maskelyne refused to pay the It so happened that the procession did not take the route he anticipated. The name of Maskelyne will be known and honoured as long as magic exists. he went into partnership with David Devant. and he offered £500 to the man who could discover the secret. John Nevil Maskelyne died in 1917. I believe this box was destroyed on Maskelyne's death. all Maskelyne's business ventures outside magic were complete failures. and. Devant has gone into a honourable and well earned retirement. Although he secretly had a great respect for spiritualism.Was John Nevil Maskelyne a Genius immensely to his old fashioned audiences. This proved even more successful than the first combination. the lease of the Egyptian Hall expired. His most famous trick was the celebrated box escape. St. although Maskelyne again lost his case. grandchildren of John Nevil. he undertook to erect a certain number of stands. The Archdeacon stated that he had attended a spiritualistic séance in which he had seen the form of a woman materialised from a man's side. thereby gaining a wonderful free advertisement. Maskelyne publicly derided he gained an enormous amount of publicity from the Press.

and to do everything in my power to help the activities of the club. and for no apparent reason. The following day I met the secretary. After some months. After a good deal of discussion. The doings of the Circle were duly recorded in my magazine. informed me that the Magic Circle had received a letter purporting to come from myself. and was therefore only too delighted to accept the invitation for membership that was extended to me. It was not long. Since I had never written such a letter." Harry Houdini. before I heard the explanation. The first meeting was arranged at the Holborn Restaurant in May. Since I feared that my professional reputation might suffer some damage." and a famous amateur conjuror of the time. and put my case before them. stating that I wished to the communications and circulars that were always sent to me by the secretary suddenly ceased. everything proceeded smoothly.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:21 PM] . however. Again his replies were evasive. I called a secret meeting of the great magicians of the country. a Director of the "Daily Express. I made several inquiries into the matter. I had felt for some considerable time that a club for professional illusionists in this country would be a very desirable thing. For a time. George Wetton. when the Magic Circle was first formed. it was decided that we should form another society to be known as "The Magicians' Club. more http://thelearnedpig. and asked to be allowed to see the document. and I was extremely happy in the thought that I was. was elected President and myself Vice-President. MANY years ago. who was in England at the time. of some material use to the many magicians of this country. I was asked to become a member. but the replies I received were all evasive. and I was more mystified than before. 1911. I agreed to give the Magic Circle some publicity in the pages of my own publication The Mystery of my Resignation from the Magic Circle Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE MYSTERY OF MY RESIGNATION FROM THE MAGIC CIRCLE. at last. At the time I was already a member of the Society of American Magicians. however. the only assumption was that my signature had been forged. but I knew this would not prevent me from joining the new society. and I was given no satisfaction.

At last. I need hardly add that the great John Nevil Maskelyne was probably the greatest opponent that our club has ever had. As I was sitting next to him on the platform. Maskelyne Memorial Fund. who would be able to explain to any would-be hecklers that law and order was desirable." "Even if you are Houdini and can escape from handcuffs. no stampeding. Houdini gave a pre-arranged sign. N. and from that day the Magicians' Club has never looked back. it doesn't mean that you can run a magical society. One hundred and eighty nine of these were eventually returned filled. but all over the world. The news of our new club soon leaked out.The Mystery of my Resignation from the Magic Circle than 300 guests being invited. For a long time past the Magic Circle and the Magicians' Club have been on the most friendly terms. A number of membership forms were handed round amongst the guests towards the close of the proceedings. they grew strangely silent. if the figures of the J. There were no further interruptions during the meeting. and gradually surrounded the it would be found that the members of the the Magicians' Club have subscribed to a very generous degree. not only in There are http://thelearnedpig. Indeed. sixteen men from the back of the hall walked slowly forward. and that's already in existence. Thereupon. and before his death was elected to the position of Vice-President. There was no disorder. the members of the Magic Circle learnt that the Magicians' Club was doing much to further the interests of magic. in endeavouring to further the interests of Magic throughout the world. Houdini occupied the chair. for. It is interesting to note that. As time went on. it was decided that Houdini and myself should each have a body guard of eight well trained pugilists. But as the interrupters realised that sixteen hefty pugilists were giving them their undivided attention. and much of the bad feeling which formerly existed has long since disappeared. No sooner had the chairman started his speech than a whole volley of remarks were fired at him.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:21 PM] . In order to safeguard ourselves. of which I have the honour to be a trustee. although John Nevil Maskelyne told me plainly that he had no use for the Magicians' Club. I noticed several members of the Magic Circle congregated together on one side of the hall. were to be examined. and it came to Houdini's ears that several of the members of the Magic Circle were going to attend our meeting with a view to upsetting the proceedings. his son Nevil willingly joined our society. "There's only room for one society. they have a common cause." These and other less polite remarks caused incessant interruptions. Members of the rival society were invited to attend our functions.

pa/magos/books/goldston/47. and speak of highly of one as they do the (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:21 PM] .The Mystery of my Resignation from the Magic Circle many magicians at the present time who are members of both institutions. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig.

The Ronacher." he told the audience. Thinking to avoid a brother magician the embarrassment of asking for help that was not forthcoming." "These two gentlemen have kindly consented to help me. Devant recognised me. I rose from my seat in the and felt I would like to see him perform again. the gentleman on the right or on the left?" Whichever one of us the audience chose. There was no response. David decided to take no chances. I was not greatly impressed with the box escape. To get rid of me. feeling uncomfortably small. and stepped up to the platform. he persuaded a man who had been sitting near me. Piccadilly. I decided to attend the show. After some difficulty. A few years later. [ He had appeared at the London (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:21 PM] . as Devant had not said whether he meant the audience's right and left or his own. Vienna. ] prior to this he had been a private entertainer. I thought his show one of the cleverest I had witnessed. Nothing was further from my mind. he told me that this was the invention of J. he employed an old trick known in the profession as "the conjurer's force. and after the show I waited for him in order to show him a model steel cage escape of my own. and the Crystal Palace. I was bound to be asked to leave the stage. http://thelearnedpig. and asked for another volunteer.David Devant--The Master Magician Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page DAVID DEVANT--THE MASTER MAGICIAN. which I thought a good deal more mysterious than "Will the Witch and the Watchman. When the escape box was brought to the front of the stage." and with recollections of his impressive London performance still in my mind. He was performing an escape illusion playlet known as "Will the Witch and the Watchman. Devant asked if a gentleman from the audience would be good enough to assist him. "Which shall I choose." However. I assumed he thought I had volunteered my help in order to probe into the secret of his trick. At any rate. I FIRST saw David Devant perform at the old Egyptian Hall. N. when he had become the provincial partner of Maskelyne and Cooke he gave an entertainment at the Hope Hall Liverpool. to go up on to the stage. and immediately became suspicious. 36 years ago (1893 or thereabouts.) He was then just making a name for himself as a stage performer. So I resumed my seat.

" I refrained from mentioning the steel cage incident. "You supply our leading magicians with apparatus. His manner was most friendly. I thought it advisable to avoid meeting any of the business associates of the Grand Old Man of St. the American coin manipulator. Although I was anxious to claim Devant as a friend. To thine own self I be true. I decided to build the illusion myself. and he added that he was anxious to purchase some new tricks. . I showed it to T.David Devant--The Master Magician Maskelyne. Needless to say. I never had occasion to revise that opinion. My visit to Devant was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. And it shall follow. calmly stating that he had invented the trick himself. as the night the day. http://thelearnedpig. I remember thinking how well he lived up to the advice of the greatest of our poets:-". Before I left that evening. agreeably surprised when Devant called on me one morning. for nothing would have given me greater pleasure than to have seen my trick in the hands of so polished a conjurer as Devant. Thou can'st not then be false to any man. A few weeks afterwards. willing to speak on any subject which interested me. Later. when the secret leaked out. and in the course of many years business with him. this claim was never substantiated. Nelson Downs. therefore. and this being so. ." he said. Amongst magicians he was a sadly misunderstood man. one foreign magician accused me of being a fraud. That. he could not substitute another trick. for his quiet and reserved nature was mistaken for unsociability. But I came away with something far more valuable than a mere commercial contract. I found him an excellent conversationalist. I had his friendship. is another story. Some years later. Devant had given me an order for several new tricks. At the time it struck me that he was a man who would never stoop to a mean or underhand and cordially invited me to visit him at his for I had been given to understand that he bought apparatus from a well-known magical inventor called Frank Hiam. I was disappointed too. "but you have never advised me when you have got anything good. I refrained from again approaching him owing to the fact that I had been very coldly treated by his partner. of course.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:21 PM] . the trick was used by several big illusionists in Europe and America. and humbly assured him that the fault would be rectified in the future. John Nevil Maskelyne. George's Hall. but rather than run the risk of further friction. I was surprised at this. who found me a customer willing to pay more than twice the amount I would have accepted from Devant. I was.

Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. As I was sitting in his dressing room after the show.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:21 PM] ." "What do you mean?" he asked." I said. "It's a kind thought. before a packed house. I went to see him perform at the Finsbury Park Empire. "David.David Devant--The Master Magician A short while They came to pay homage to a Master Magician. I'm too reserved for the liking of most people." It was a considerable time before I could persuade him to agree to my suggestion. "They should make you a public presentation. "But I'm afraid you would find it a difficult task." He pondered for a minute or two in silence. You could not get many to subscribe to my presentation. I should like your consent. George's Hall. "the time has come when the magicians of the world should acknowledge you as their master. and cheered him to the echo. Before I take the matter up. an idea struck me. Magicians from all parts of the world attended." he said. The presentation was made at

" he replied." He gave me the address. I went on ahead to fix up the final arrangements for my show at the local theatre. for I was anxious to return to the station to inquire after my props. after some deliberation.html (1 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:42:22 PM] . there was nobody to greet me when I in South Wales. and I set out in great haste. an aged man put in an appearance. Arrived at the house. "Your husband tells me that you let out rooms." I said in my pleasantest manner." I said. "I happen to be a theatrical artist--in fact. The theatre was like a house of death. Two guineas a week.My Impromptu Act Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page MY IMPROMPTU ACT. A large female of gaunt and forbidding appearance answered my summons. and finally asked him if he knew of anyone who let out apartments. I'm appearing at your theatre this week. WHEN I was a young man. "Yes. which was only a few minutes from the station. "Ur?" she asked." "That seems rather dear. What are your very lowest terms for theatrical artists?" http://thelearnedpig. Could you tell me your lowest terms for a week's lodging?" "Um. "Good morning. and had still my way to make in the world. After I had been waiting well over an hour. only starting their professional duties in the evening. I was told afterwards that the whole of the theatre staff. In those days--I was twenty-one at the time--I was always anxious to make a big impression. worked in the mines during the day. To my surprise. Arranging that this should be delivered by goods train at the Morristown station. including the orchestra and stage hands. I knocked sharply on the door. I introduced myself. I was eager to snap up any offer that was made to and adopted the then unusual custom of taking my scenery about with me. One of my first professional engagements was at a small mining town called Morristown. told him that my scenery was being sent on. "My missus does.

You've come here on false pretences." agreed the manager gloomily. "You're a fraud." I returned heatedly. When I asked for assistants from the audience. But I can do a hypnotism act that ought to satisfy the audience.My Impromptu Act "Dirty dogs!" was the startling reply." I argued." "Rubbish. and the door was slammed violently in my face! At last. whilst another was to have http://thelearnedpig. I told them that they would each receive a shilling and as much beer as it was possible to drink if they would follow my instructions. Things looked somewhat serious." "All right." I made the most of the short time left at my disposal. You never had no scenery. so I can't do any tricks. the manager walked down to the station. "But I warn you--they'll give you a rough time. The scenery can't reach here before tomorrow. and explained the whole" Taking me at my word." "There's nothing else to be done. "Do you know what you are?" he said. and explained what I wanted them to do. "Go down to the station. where my story was confirmed. My plan of campaign was simple. however. because you were top of the bill. "What are we going to do about it?" he asked. When I went to the railway station." I suggested. I've a good mind to call in the police. But my satisfaction was short lived. and they won't have anything else. my "horses" were to come on to the stage. "The whole show's ruined." "You can put me on last.html (2 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:42:22 PM] . and picked out half a dozen men whose appearance seemed to indicated a fondness for drink. I managed to fix up a comfortable" a term that is used in the profession for a hypnotist's secret confederates. One had to chew candles. I was horrified to learn that my scenery had been sent on to another town by mistake. Each man was then allotted a different task. you never had nothing. yourself and make inquiries. I visited every public house in the town. They want to see you do magic. "It's either hypnotism or nothing at all. They were to be "horses. another was to drink paraffin oil. I took the men round to the back of the theatre. He received me no more kindly than the landlady. that's what you are. and I sought out the manager of the theatre. all right." "That's no good.

Flushed with success. and my volunteers played their part well.html (3 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:42:22 PM] . The men agreed to help me. There were no comments. several women fainted. but it was the only way out of my difficulty. "Owing to unforeseen circumstances. I propose to give you an exhibition of my hypnotic powers. However. and explained that he was to be the bride. I was in the middle of my http://thelearnedpig. I regret I shall be unable to go through the advertised performance this evening. I looked him straight in the I realised that I was taking an enormous risk. "Ladies and gentlemen. But to my surprise. "For this exhibition. and remained motionless on the ground. with your permission. I was quite unprepared for this development." I said. and I was careful to see that my own assistant was seated on the extreme right. This piece of fooling had a startling effect on the audience. I decided that as a Grand Finale. Putting the "fluence" on my regular assistant. Will anyone be kind enough to volunteer?" At this point my half a dozen "horses" stepped forward. which at the moment I was at a loss to understand. and had to be carried out. and after binding them to secrecy. I found I had fifteen volunteers in all. The words were hardly out of my mouth when the assistant fell off his chair. but I called for several more chairs." I paused to see how this announcement would be received. so I continued. smiling pleasantly. The performance continued. and asked each man to sit down." made the same mysterious passes with my hands. The volunteers rushed as one man for the steps that led to the stalls and it was with the greatest difficulty that I persuaded my "horses" to remain on the stage. He gave me a sly wink. "You are falling asleep." I said in a deep voice. including my regular assistant who was sitting in the stalls.My Impromptu Act needles forced through his cheeks--this last is easily done by pressing the flesh and so making it numb--and so on. Everything worked very well. Waving my hands at the latter in what I hoped was a truly impressive I would do a mock marriage scene. They rose in their seats. they were immediately followed by several other men whom I had never seen before. I asked them to be in the theatre by ten o'clock the same evening. swallowed oil. and did several other little tricks which I had shown them in the short time at my disposal. and some of the women screamed. set them around in a semi-circle. and we held an impromptu rehearsal there and then. I told him that he was to represent the bridegroom. I turned to one of the "horses. In turn they ate candles. When I came to forcing needles through a man's cheeks. I shall require the assistance of several gentlemen from my audience.

I played to crowded houses for the rest of the week. my assistant's eccentric behaviour was deleted from the subsequent performances! I was so pleased with the success of the show that I paid my "horses" half a crown and as much beer as they could drink for each performance. the manager would not allow me to change my programme. he pranced across the stage. and. Suddenly he stopped. Although I spoke severely to my assistant for his unseemly conduct. they did not betray the trust I had put in them.My Impromptu Act explanation when an ear-splitting shout caused me to turn my head. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. (4 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:42:22 PM] . Of course. like good fellows. In in spite of the fact that my scenery arrived on the following day. My assistant had stripped himself of every inch of clothing. "Where's my blushing bride?" I need hardly say that the performance was stopped immediately. The curtain came down amidst shrieks of laughter. and. A strange sight met my eyes. cupping his hands around his mouth. in reality I had much to thank him for. and. Waving his shirt above his head. I was able to fool the police and several medical men who called on me and asked for an explanation of my wonderful hypnotic powers.

" Although the story I am about to set down is of no great importance. ATHOUGH it is some years since I last visited West Kirkby. I shall always remember it as the scene of my first--and perhaps my greatest--theatrical "battle. and when the owner of the Pagoda agreed to make some alterations in the size of the stage and the number of the stalls.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:23 PM] . Twenty-five years ago. The first performance of the "Will Goldston Court Pierrots" proved a great success.The Battle of the Pierrots Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE BATTLE OF THE PIERROTS. But when I heard that "The Rosettes" had secretly booked my comedian and pianist. and we continued to do two shows a day before well packed houses. found my new pianist and http://thelearnedpig. it occurred to me that the Pagoda Pavilion at West Kirkby would be an admirable headquarters for my concert party during the summer season. but I was content to bide my time. I held a hasty rehearsal one Monday morning. I booked the Pagoda from May until September--an unusually long season--and bought up every advertisement hoarding from West Kirkby to Birkenhead. Owing to my heavy preliminary expenses. I had not expected this. I was unable to show a balance for the first six weeks. a company called "The Rosettes" appeared at West Kirkby. had lost heavily the previous year. I began to have serious doubts as to the honesty of the rival promoter. it would not be through lack of advertising. it shows to what lengths some promoters will go in order to make their show a I saw that once my debts had been cleared. Towards the middle of June. I felt well pleased. two very well known concert party promoters of the period. My first move was to telegraph to London for another comedian and pianist. These arrived before the date of the first performance of the "The Rosettes. I was not discouraged when I learned that Adler and Sutton. I should be able to make a handsome profit. but was not unduly worried as my show had become thoroughly well established." and I was able to forestall my two "deserters" by giving them the sack. I decided that if my show was to be a failure.

I hired a horse and wagon. In order to give myself a better chance--I make this fact public for the first time--I put a five pound note into my own collecting the local hospital said they would award a Silver Cup to the party which was able to collect most money for the hospital funds on gala day. By this time the rivalry between the two concert parties was the talk of the whole town. At night. to threepence. twopence. and a penny.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:23 PM] . Had they been content to have left things like this. they pasted their own bills over my advertisements outside the Pagoda pavilion. the consequences would be extremely serious." The rival party were now getting desperate. it is quite possible that their reduced prices would have attracted a considerable crowd. for I knew it would be a splendid advertisement. This caused something of a sensation. After the afternoon performance. I was very anxious that my party should gain the Cup. In order to create further excitement.The Battle of the Pierrots comedian extremely satisfactory. ninepence." I countered this move by informing the police that it was illegal to deface the public streets in this manner. and sixpence. and toured the town. giving ten minute performances at the street corners. and played to a successful matinée the same When the amounts were checked. On the following Sunday night. They brought down their prices of one shilling. and invited members of the Cheshire Police Force to attend free of charge. and the house was packed an hour before the evening performance was due to begin. The other show is a variety entertainment. The next idea of "The Rosettes" was to send in a number of roughs at one of my evening performances. I distributed a number of hand-bills amongst the audience. That night "The Rosettes" took exactly five shillings. So far the honours were mine in the "battle" and the rival troupe decided to change their tactics."'The Rosettes' are the only Concert Party worth seeing. it was found that my own party had collected exactly five pounds more than "The Rosettes. But they made one false step. they were thrown out. announcing that I intended to do a wonderful handcuff escape in the evening. I had foreseen the possibility of this. and had engaged a number of the strongest and heaviest constables in the district. and the show proceeded quite smoothly. Fortunately. they employed several men to whitewash the following words along the main streets of the town:-. As soon as the roughs commenced to get noisy. http://thelearnedpig. The following day my rivals were warned that if such a thing occurred again.

Whether he told me this out of sheer kindness of heart. and smashed up all my own props and scenery. I then went inside the Pavilion. the other party left the town in disgust. so I decided to take a big risk. There was no one about. First of all I knocked off the padlock of the front doors with a heavy stick. I went to the police station and informed the inspector that the Pagoda had been wrecked by some unknown intruders. and for the rest of the season.The Battle of the Pierrots Very early the following morning I was told of their latest move." Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. I went down to the Pagoda. When this was done.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:23 PM] . I had all the public sympathy I required. At the end of the same week." To my surprise--and satisfaction--one of the policemen told me that he had seen the male members of "The Rosettes" leaving the Pagoda early in the and saw that none of my own bills was visible. I do not know to this day. Fortunately my gamble succeeded. the entertainment of the population and holiday makers of West Kirkby was left entirely to "Will Goldston's Court Pierrots. or whether lie really imagined that he had seen my When the news became known that "The Rosettes" had wrecked my show.

My Cemetery Adventure

Sensational Tales of Mystery Men
by Will Goldston
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I AM not what is usually termed a nervous man. In the course of my life I
have had a good many shocks, pleasant and unpleasant, and have survived them all. The heavy spirit footsteps which I often hear late at night in my office building no longer thrill me, and I have attended many awe inspiring séances without the slightest qualms. But nothing will ever persuade me to walk through a cemetery at night. I tried it once in order to win and failed lamentably. I was the victim of practical jokers, and lost both my wager and my nerve. Although the incidents I am about to relate occurred nearly thirty years ago, I have never quite lost the fear of graveyards which my terrifying experience first inspired. I was a young man at the time, and had just become interested in Spiritualism. I was neither a believer nor an unbeliever, but was investigating the subject in order to discover the truth of psychic phenomena. I was certainly not frightened of ghosts or spooks or any of the other kindred beings which are usually associated with the spirit world. A few of my brother magicians--sceptics all of them--pulled my leg incessantly with regard to my spiritualistic investigations. I took their banter in good part, but secretly ached for the opportunity to show them I had no fear of the "black bogies," as they called them. The opportunity was not long in coming. A man called Bradley, who has since died, asked me point blank if I was frightened of ghosts. "Of course not," I replied. "Well, we'll bet you a fiver you won't walk across the Mount Cemetery and back at two o'clock in the morning." "I'll take you on," I retorted. "But who's going to get the keys?" "You leave that to us. We shall be at the main gates at two o'clock to-morrow morning." (1 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:42:24 PM]

My Cemetery Adventure

Those who know the Mount Cemetery, Liverpool, will testify that it is one of the largest graveyards in the district. I realised that it would be a longish walk to undertake at such an hour in the morning, and knew the Cemetery would hardly wear the same peaceful aspect that it has in daylight. Nevertheless, I can honestly say that I was not in the least frightened by my hasty resolution, and congratulated myself on being able to earn such an easy fiver. I arrived punctually at the appointed place, but found my four magical friends there before me. By some means or other they had obtained the keys, and were clustered together, talking in low undertones. "Hullo, Goldston," said one as he saw me approaching. "Are you fit for the walk?" "Rather?" I replied, quite at my ease. "The money's as good as mine." "Glad you think so. We'll wait here until you come back. Best of luck to you." He unlocked the gate, and motioned me to enter. It was not until I had passed from speaking distance of my friends that I began to feel the first twinges of nervousness. The deathly stillness of everything around me, and the pale moonlight glinting on the cold, stone monuments sent queer little shivers down my back. Occasionally the cool night breeze would catch up a few leaves and pieces of paper, and send them scurrying over the gravel with a weird scratching sound. I began to perspire. I lengthened my pace, determined to cover the distance in the shortest possible time. I had covered about a quarter of a mile when the rustling of a few leaves behind me caused me to turn my head, as though to satisfy myself that "Old Nick" was not really on my trail. What I saw turned me cold with fear. Vapour was rising from a nearby gravestone, a kind of white luminous vapour that glistened with an unearthly light. It was like polished steam, yet I could see right through it. Yes, it was coming from another grave as well. And another. It was coming from all of them! Oh, heavens! what was it? It must be the ghosts coming to haunt me for my intrusion! I stood like a statue, too frightened to move. Nothing happened. No spirit voices greeted me, no bony hands stretched out their spidery fingers to clutch my clothes. Everything was quiet. Even the breeze was stilled. Although I dared not yet move, my numbed senses began to function again. "What is it?" I whispered. "The spirits can't be lighting fires in the coffins." I pondered, and realisation came. "You fathead!" I said aloud. I had heard before of the strange phosphorous vapour which has been (2 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:42:24 PM]

My Cemetery Adventure

observed to rise from graves at night-time. This was my first introduction to it. Even to this day I do not know the true scientific explanation of the phenomenon, but have been told it is an outcome of the chemical construction of human bones. In any case, I knew now what it looked like, although I told myself that the experience had probably taken ten years off my life. "Nothing to be frightened of," I murmured, and set off once more for the gates on the far side of the cemetery. I had scarcely walked another hundred yards when I had the greatest shock of my life. "Don't go that way, sir!" said a woman's voice. "In God's name, who is it?" I screamed. "Please, oh, please, don't go that way!" repeated the voice. I stood not upon the order of my going, but flew as fast as my legs would carry me. All thoughts of my fiver had gone, and I raced back along the track by which I had approached. I had not gone far, however, when my courage returned. Perhaps, after all, my nerves were playing tricks with me. I pulled up short, and listened intently. "Please, sir. Please, oh please!" Again I heard it, close at hand. The voice was chasing me! That decided me. I ran faster and faster. I realised, with a certain amount of relief, that the unknown spirit was losing ground on me. But there was no doubt that it was trying to catch me. I heard the thin, plaintive cry following in my wake, and gradually getting fainter as I gained speed. I reached the cemetery gates in a state of collapse. "Hello, Will," said Bradley, who was peering through the bars. "What's wrong?" "For Heaven's sake let me out?" I spluttered. "There's a ghost just behind." "A ghost? You must be dreaming." "Let me out. I tell you the awful thing's chasing me. It's coming now." "The ghost" came. It proved to be one of Bradley's lady friends! The girl was hard up, and for a pound note had readily consented to lie in wait behind a tombstone for the unsuspecting victim. "I hope I didn't frighten you too much," she said to me, afterwards. I sheepishly complimented her on her courage. But the charming smile she gave me never recompensed me for the enormous shock to my nervous system. I haven't got over it yet. (3 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:42:24 PM] Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig.My Cemetery Adventure That is why I will not walk through a cemetery at night.html (4 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:42:24 PM] .

the poor Count lived in the most terrible poverty. After his wife's death. was not her real name--had many admirable qualities. The Countess Castaglioni--this. Liverpool. and his chief means of subsistence was an occasional egg and crust of dry "I haven't one. he was nothing more or less than an old and exceedingly clever conjurer who had fallen on evil days. eyeing my companion's tattered clothes. afflicted with what is popularly known as a "long thirst." She confessed that her "favourite flowers were hops" and in support of her statement she made a hobby of investing her money--and her husband's--with a firm of local brewers. When I knew him.000 Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page AN ERROR THAT COST £1. and it is more than possible that he would have made a big name for himself in this branch of the profession had he not contracted a very unwise marriage." http://thelearnedpig. smiling sadly. The poor fellow's hands were blue from the cold. and his teeth chattered loudly.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:24 PM] ." he said. of course. It was in such a condition as this that I met him one winter's morning in the Dingle. "Overcoat he said. He was always interested in magic. unfortunately. in the dramatic style that Irving had taught him.An Error that Cost 1. Count. as might be imagined. As he saw me.000. his clothes became nothing but a collection of my dear Goldston. "Where's your overcoat?" The Count raised his eyebrows. COUNT Castaglioni was not. he pulled himself together. as he always did. an Italian gentleman of noble birth. He started his theatrical career by performing with Henry Irving for the pitiful sum of thirty shillings a week. "And how are you this morning?" "Fine." I replied. and had an early but not altogether unexpected death. speaking. She continued her hobby throughout her married life. but was. "Good morning. He was reduced to giving penny performances before school children.

I naturally assumed that the cutting had been taken from the previous day's edition of The "Echo. But I was doomed to disappointment. On leaving the tailor. And now for the sequel. a length of string. "You can have it if you want it. "It will only take me two or three hours. He enclosed a cutting which he "hoped might be of some use to me. where a conjurer had been killed by his girl assistant." Therein I made a mistake which eventually cost nearly £1. "Thank you." I saw the tears come into the old magician's eyes. and Castaglioni tried it on. laddie. It appeared that he had sold all his best tricks when he had first found himself in need of money. it was removed from the window. and an ivory ball." said the Count. and I asked to be allowed to see the overcoat I had" he said simply. I was anxious to learn all that could be taught about magic.000! Thinking the. And no amount of persuasion could make him alter his decision.An Error that Cost 1. and did as he requested." said the tailor. "This is not time for pleasantries. I received a letter from Count Castaglioni." "But I have no money." "No.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:24 PM] . news item would be of interest to my readers." The cutting related to a murder in South America. "I'll keep it as it is. It was an excellent fit with the exception of the and assured me that he felt much better." One night. About a week after my magazine bad appeared in print. and thought no more about it. We entered the tailor's. Some years later I edited a magical journal known as "The Magician. "I'm not joking. The long sleeves will keep my hands warm.000 I pointed to an overcoat in a nearby tailor's window. we went to a restaurant. On the back of the slip the Count had written "Liverpool Echo" and the previous day's date. The old Magician's conjuring apparatus consisted of a few coins." replied the old man sternly. Count. I included it as a space filler. "I can soon alter those for you. some coloured handkerchiefs. Count. "Would you like that?" I asked." "Let me give it to you. He asked me to call on him the following day. when I was working late in an endeavour to get all my material ready for press on the following day. as he wished to give me some of his most exclusive tricks. where the Count made a hearty meal. After much difficulty." I insisted. a woman walked http://thelearnedpig. for the cuffs came well over the old man's hands.

and asked me what I meant by referring to her as a prostitute and a murderess. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page madam." I" At that. and when I totalled up my costs.An Error that Cost 1. Justice Darling. and in any case it's quite untrue. "The story was printed in the "Echo" a week or so ago. but the figure she mentioned was so high that I would not consider it. and. had thought it might be useful for my magazine. the woman produced a copy of my magazine. "I'm afraid I don't understand you. The case was brought before Lord Darling who was then simply Mr.000 into my office and demanded to see me. there could be little doubt that the woman had a pretty clear case against me. and indicated the paragraph which Count Castaglioni had sent me. He had unearthed the copy of the newspapers from an old and dirty pile. seeing the reference to a magician's death. the plaintiff was awarded £200 damages." "I know it wasn't.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:24 PM] . and if true. "I have never met you before. "Really?" I said." This news was a big shock for me. A few days later I was served with a writ for libel. He complimented me on my fairness. She introduced herself. I found that the case had cost well over £900! Count Castaglioni explained that the date he had put on the back of the cutting was merely the date on which he had sent me the letter. for in the next issue of "The Magician" I made a full and complete apology." she cried excitedly. She suggested that I should make her some sort of payment and let the matter drop. For all that. as civilly as I could. "That's about me. That incident occurred twenty years ago.

A FELLOW magician once referred to me as "The Mystery Man of Mystery Men. Carl Hertz. when he was able to pour out any named drink from a tin kettle. I published a full working explanation of the trick in one of my Magician's Annuals. printed on small white cards. and any word given by a member of the audience was spelt out by the letters with uncanny accuracy. All these men have from time to time been exceedingly vexed. and either by bribery or force. including an accurate design of the button-hook. that for many years I succeeded in baffling--perhaps I should say hoodwinking--many of the greatest magicians of my time. with me. Not one was ever able to understand how I was able to explain the full details and working of his latest tricks and Chung Ling Soo. it was rumoured. The letters of the alphabet. were dropped into the bowl. found out the secrets of the newest illusions under construction. visited the various magical workshops. On another occasion I congratulated him on his improvement in the "Magic Kettle" trick. was effected by means of a number of rubber tubes in the handle. My hired spies. John Nevil Maskelyne. controlled by a button-hook beneath the stage. but the latest improvement. How does Will Goldston know? That is the question which Harry Houdini. Many people will still recall his excellent "Spelling Fish" effect at Maskelyne's Theatre.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:25 PM] . He was astounded when I told him how it was done." This may or may not have been intended as a compliment. not to say annoyed. http://thelearnedpig. he presented a large bowl filled with gold fish. The trick was worked by a number of silver wires in the water. It is a fact. however.Will Goldson's Spy Service Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page WILL GOLDSTON'S SPY SERVICE. David Devant was my victim on more than one occasion. have asked themselves repeatedly in the past. known only to Devant and his mechanic. David Devant. It was even whispered that I employed a sort of intelligence service to discover the secrets of my brother magicians. and many others. This trick had been done before. In This was a cause of secret satisfaction to myself and of considerable irritation to the others.

"Even the walls have ears. suspended itself in the air." A man and a wicker basket were to be introduced to the audience. I called on Maskelyne. he apparently swallowed two dozen loose needles and several yards of cotton. for the illusion was most ingenious." I left him still staring at the prints. and showed him the complete plans of his new illusion. But my greatest triumph in this respect concerns Houdini. For a moment I feared he had lost his reason.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:25 PM] . picking up my hat. and was determined to spring a surprise on him. I told him exactly how he concealed the duplicate needles and cotton in his mouth. and would have been a great success. Then he took a drink from a tumbler of water. Shortly afterwards I heard he had completely destroyed his half-finished apparatus. The man was to step into the basket. His eyes got bigger and bigger. and he muttered all sorts of dire imprecations under his As a matter of fact. "How did you know?" he cried. At a given signal the basket was to fall to the ground. "have you discovered any new secrets? "Plenty. "There's one you don't know. "But believe me. your secret will be quite safe. I knew all about Maskelyne's new trick." I said. The following day." said he. There was no doubt that the great John Nevil was sorely vexed with Will Goldston. He had an excellent opening trick in which he called a committee of the audience on to the stage. It was an exceedingly clever effect which was to be known as "The Entranced Fakir. Houdini became exceedingly angry." he retorted. shortly. George's Hall. which by some invisible means. and in what manner. After his mouth had been carefully examined. who guarded his secrets more jealously than any magician I ever met. and incidentally." I made no answer." I replied.Will Goldson's Spy Service John Nevil Maskelyne was another whose secret's were often known to me. and demanded that I should http://thelearnedpig. Goldston. "Well. This was one of Harry's most baffling one of his favourites. and not even Devant knows about it. It will cause a big sensation. when he had sufficiently recovered to speak. The climax was reached when he produced the cotton from his mouth with the twenty four needles threaded on it. he hid them from the eyes of the examining committee. showing that its occupant had completely vanished. at any rate. "I'm building an illusion now. I thought it a pity he had acted so childishly. I recall meeting him on one occasion in the foyer of St.

That is not fair play. My sole means of getting information wasprofessional they became more perplexed than ever. my own knowledge as an inventor of magical apparatus has helped me considerably in putting two and two together. if possible. others will be found to carry on the work that I have started. not for unfair play. I have had my laughs. That is my secret. Of course. But my so-called "spies" were none other than the very magicians who wondered how I knew their tricks! In conclusion. Thus. It is a fact that many of the cleverest members of my profession have selfishly carried their secrets to the grave. I would like to point out that although. It is pure fiction. after my death. "You can publish that in your next book. if Willie Smith's handkerchief illusion is better than Fred Jones' rice bowls.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:25 PM] . can't you?" he says. but. then there is bound to be bad feeling on the part of Fred. as a whole are a highly jealous race. and. so far as I know. Magicians. Things got to such a pitch that several well known illusionists employed a detective to shadow me. it's like this " And he goes on to give me the full details of Willie's wonderful trick. There is now no reason why I should not make the truth known. My sole idea is to preserve a record of the illusions of my time. And so Fred comes to Will Goldston with excitement dancing in his eyes. But when they found I attended at my office and carried out my regular business routine each day. hopefully. I have published many volumes containing magical secrets. They were determined at all costs to discover how their secrets leaked out. "Do you know how Willie does his handkerchiefs?" he Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. I have a reputation for "smelling out" secrets. Houdini and Chung Ling Soo are cases in point. expose them. from time to time. and I feel it is time the "spy" theory was exploded for ever. Magic must live after its creators have passed on. I have always attempted to give impartial treatment to friend and foe alike.Will Goldson's Spy Service tell him how I came by my knowledge. to be passed down to the magicians of the future. "Well. I have never written books from a commercial standpoint. Never at any time have I bribed information. Consequently he is only too eager to probe into Willie's secrets. and trust that. or broken into the workshops of my brother magicians. I feel I have a duty to perform. But I preferred to keep my secret.

" I suggested that as an uninvited guest I should not be very welcome. of their crudeness and brutality. I am sure he will be greatly amused. Altogether a very enjoyable meal. We have all of us read at some time or another of the hand-to-mouth existence of the French apaches. a noted and much respected lawyer. But you will come as well--yes? They are very rich. Sufficient to say that the house was the most magnificent private residence that I have ever entered. "I must go to my friends to dinner. He greeted me as only a Frenchman can. SEVEN years ago. but told me regretfully that a previous appointment would necessitate his absence from town that evening. The subsequent circus astounded me." And so I I was afterwards told it had belonged to a wealthy nobleman in the days before the Revolution. and disregard for human life. I had an extraordinary adventure in Paris. To this day I do not know the location of our destination. and I noticed everyone was in evening dress. for one.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:26 PM] . and certainly never imagined I should be mixed up in an affray that might well have ended in my death. I. I decided to call on an old friend of mine. Then an idea struck him. The food was excellent. of which there were many. and my attempts to speak French to a young and exceedingly pretty lady at my side kept the party in roars of laughter. We took our places at dinner. I was introduced to my host and to several of the guests. and that is enough. There were clowns and performing http://thelearnedpig. but my doubts were swept aside. and I am sure you will enjoy the private circus which my friend runs for the enjoyment of his "You do not know my friend as I do. except that it lay twenty minutes' taxi ride west of the Arc de Triomphe. In the course of my visit to the French capital. You must show him some of your tricks. Most decidedly you must come. put these stories down as figments of the imaginative minds of fiction writers. You are connected with the stage.My Quickest Vanish Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page MY QUICKEST VANISH.

I hinted to my friend that I would like to leave. I didn't stop to think. They were getting nearer although I was doing a steady six miles an He urged me to stop. I am not a man who is easily frightened. The gleaming blade of a knife swept past my shoulder. and down this I speeded like a man possessed. I was pretty fleet of" I quickened my stride. Flippety-flop--just like so many feet in soft rubber shoes. There were six or seven men and women crowding in on me. Still they came--flippety flop. "It sounds like an army!" By this time I had almost broken into a run. It was then that I heard footsteps. I consoled myself with the thought that every pace brought me nearer civilisation. and I stepped out at a smart pace towards town.My Quickest Vanish animals. and I heard a muttered oath in French. "Will Goldston. I just ran. but I could not help thinking of the impossibility of such a performance in England. gaining all the time. and after receiving instructions as to my best way home.--they slithered! There seemed to be not one or two. They were dirty and unkempt. and the footsteps stopped. "Who can they be?" I thought. and although I dared hot look back. but I pleaded I had an early train to catch in the morning. and the overhanging trees shut out what little moonlight there was. I bade farewell to my host. The faces might well have come from a Chamber of Horrors. Luckily for me. hoping to pick up a taxi en route. but those footsteps sent a chill down my spine. flippety flop. but several people.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:26 PM] . To the right was a sharp turning. The lane in which I found myself was dark and gloomy. and was anxious to be up betimes. and the footsteps started again. I glanced quickly over my shoulder. took a regretful departure. Imagine two or three dozen of our aristocracy clapping their hands at the antics of a clown rolled up in a carpet! But time was progressing. I had not got more than a hundred yards from the house when I paused to light a cigarette." I said to myself. the most vile looking creatures I have ever set eyes on. and when I heard a nearby clock strike midnight. The night air was chilling. I had got a start of a few feet. and their clothes smelt like a garbage yard. I turned-and only just in time. I http://thelearnedpig. There was something uncanny about them. "You must walk a little quicker. Suddenly they quickened and I realised they were only a few yards behind me. columbines and bare-back riders--all for the amusement of a handful of overgrown children! I suppose it takes all sorts to make a world. nearer still. but the sounds behind me were gaining.

The slithering steps behind told me that my pursuers were still after me. As I sank back on the Fortunately. he understood my danger. What is more. On this occasion it saved my life.My Quickest Vanish prayed inwardly that this might get wider with every step I took. it was a moving taxi. or whether one of his less violent brothers (if any) had taken the lead. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. "Allez!" was all I could gasp to the bewildered driver. we shot forward at a speed that in other circumstances I should have considered and I remember wondering if the gentleman with the knife was leading the way.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:26 PM] . I made one final burst and reached the door. Suddenly I saw a taxi.

She had rosy cheeks. One day. "Tell me about the Army. "I'm always glad to help a good cause. I was determined to get as much fun as possible from life." http://thelearnedpig. and a pleasant.A Confession by Will Goldston Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page A CONFESSION BY WILL GOLDSTON. What. was my crime? Is Will Goldston a murderer." replied the girl. fair hair which peeped from beneath the brim of her poke bonnet. I have done my best to make amends." she said. the newspaper propped up against the cruet. and large. In August. and as I was well known to the management." I said. I HAVE a confession to make." "Your money won't be wasted. a blackmailer? No. dressed in the regulation uniform of blue tunic and skirt. making as though to move to the next as I will tell you "Wait a minute. a thief. In those far-off days I was young and irresponsible. It was my custom to take my meals in the restaurant attached to the hotel. I was always assured of good food and prompt attention to my orders. Liverpool. blue eyes which looked straight into mine. "Can you spare something. I don't know much about the Salvation Army. I have laughed many times over this episode. but one must not assume that I have entirely lost my sense of shame. please?" I looked up. he is none of these things. "It's Self-Denial Week." I slipped a shilling into the box. and had not got that feeling of respect for others which the passing years have taught me. 1904 I was stopping at a small hotel near Lime Street. anxious not to lose her company.html (1 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:27 PM] . "Please help us. soft-toned voice said. I heard the rattle of a money box at my side." I remarked. Before me was a Salvation Army lassie. a confession of a foolhardy escapade of twenty-five years ago. then. straightening my tie. as I was taking lunch. and it did not occur to me that in so doing I might be causing considerable discomfiture and annoyance to my fellow creatures. "But to be quite honest.

I kept my appointment to the second. Altogether. and after being enrolled by the Captain in charge." "Heard the call? Oh yes. but we have heard the call. On the following evening. that is all. and lowered my eyes to the plate. and the good girl. to which we listened in respectful silence. I know. There was a large crowd present when I arrived." I was beginning to enjoy myself.html (2 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:27 PM] . "I have led a terrible life. This was going to be a delightful leg There was a meeting on the following evening at seven o'clock." "But why--oh!" And the girl turned crimson. and told me exactly where to find the Army Hall. I said I should be pleased to attend. Finally. my opportunity came.A Confession by Will Goldston "There is nothing much to tell. At first there was some hymn singing." "If you mean that." she continued presently. I cleared my throat. But why do you ask? "Because I am a wicked man. turned to resume her collection. This was followed by several speeches. I will come. satisfied at having done her duty by me." "I suppose you are all very good people. "Why not join us? "I am too wicked. Blank had been taken suddenly ill They trusted he would soon be well again and it was to be hoped that his enforced absence would not disorganise the band in which his services as bass drummer were much http://thelearnedpig. accompanied by a time-worn harmonium." She seemed genuinely concerned for me. "Is it possible for a really wicked man to hear the call?" "Of course." "What have you done? "I could never tell you. The Captain regretfully announced that Mr. You hear the call. There was silence for a few seconds." I replied in hushed tones. and then join the Army. We try to do good. "It is not too late. Aren't you?" "Some of us have been bad." "But we want sinners. I was introduced to everyone in turn. I found it rather boring. is that it?" "Yes.

Christian Soldiers. I was once bass drummer to a big band up in London. I had never handled drumsticks in my life." I found the rehearsal most thrilling. You say your bass drummer is ill?" "Yes. The effects were pleasing. It was not till I reached the hotel that I found that the indisposed Mr. The sleeves of the coat were a good three inches too long. I sprang to my feet. "Excuse me. and we were to have a big outing round the slums. Blank." "Yes. I'm used to a pretty heavy band. Blank." I was served out with a uniform. Blank was a man of unusually large stature.A Confession by Will Goldston appreciated. " Although musical ability was never one of my strong points. astonished even myself. Perhaps you will attend the band practice after the meeting. I joined in with a gusto which." I thought.html (3 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:27 PM] . which I assumed had been made for Mr. sir. it was thought advisable to give me my clothing immediately. The following day was a Sunday. my friend." "Alright. I tried it on at various angles and watched myself in the mirror. You see. But the uniform was a distinct failure. I overcame the difficulty by turning back the sleeves and making an extra large turn-up to the trousers. Boom! Boom!!" And so we went on. but http://thelearnedpig. and the trousers arranged themselves concertina fashion round my ankles. "Onward. I think you'll do. I took no notice of the smirks and smiles which greeted my appearance. "That is splendid. But perhaps you have never played before?" "Oh. Everyone stared at me. This was a vast" "May I offer my services whilst he is away?" "Thank you. yes. quite. At length we stopped." said the Captain doubtfully. My exit from the hotel caused a mild sensation on the Sunday evening." Needless to say. "Now for some fun. Boom! Boom!! Boom!!! Marching--Boom!--on to war. But don't bang so loud unless there's a lot of heavy traffic about. Captain. In the circumstances. "You're not quite so good as Mr. The cap fitted well.

" And I pushed my way through the crowd to the saloon bar of the public house. It appeared that my drum playing had not met with the full hearted approval of the rest of the band. I might have done far worse. Here I found myself distinctly unpopular. I had my drink. I cannot go alright. I made a speech. That is my confession. After twenty minutes. and sent the uniform back by messenger on the following day. I was glad of the rest. However. faintly humming a few hymn tunes. I heaped ridicule on the Salvation Army. therefore. On the whole. Now and again. I flatter myself I did well that evening. we moved on again. "Oh-er. as a beginner. that terrible slum quarter of Liverpool." I suggested. I said. for my exertions had made me hot and tired. and we started out. We sang a few hymns and my lady friend of the previous day made a speech." His face fell. the curse of England. I feel I have not yet said enough. I decided it would be wiser if I slipped off quietly to the hotel. I spoke for twenty minutes on the evils of drink. and peeped through the curtained windows. I was given a huge leather apron which stretched almost to my toes. and whose courage http://thelearnedpig. "I'd sooner make a speech. "And now. "I must leave you to fight out the battle for yourselves. I have merely pointed out the path you should take. "You might go round the public house with the 'War Cry. I made a long speech.'" he said. I decided I had said enough. By the time she had finished I was feeling much refreshed. For this I might have been forgiven. was the curse of (4 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:27 PM] . the curse of the world. But all good things must end. and I felt at the top of my form. Excuse me." he said. The Captain evidently noticed this. brethren. I made a mistake and banged in the wrong place. but. My audience was interested. but the hostile atmosphere was quickly renewed by my quaint appearance." I concluded. my throat and tongue were parched. while I have a pint of beer. At the corner of Scotland Road. I caused some disorder in the procession by dropping a drumstick. Drink. a body of men and women who strive to do good in the world. and finally stopped outside a public house in Christian Street. "I have something of importance to say. but my mouth is dry. and I felt I was speaking well. I had a reputation in those days as as an impromptu speaker. There seemed to be some sort of disturbance outside.A Confession by Will Goldston walked briskly round to the hall.

com. no matter what one might think of their religious outlook. But I have done my best to atone for my crime.A Confession by Will Goldston could never be doubted. Every year since that date I have made a special donation to the Army during Self-Denial (5 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:27 PM] . End of Sensational Tales of Mystery Men. Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig.

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