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

Next | Home Page (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:29 PM]


Sensational Tales of Mystery Men
by Will Goldston
Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page

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]

who could have written the chapters which I have read. Well.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:30 PM] . of a great trade in Mystery and that. I have presided over one of your dinners. he hoped. there are at least 1. I shall write the whole book. You suggested my election. though Julius has gone and his second wife has. so gentle and kindly is your approach to men. when the missionary's box is opened. I have addressed your gatherings. he has always been a mystery. than did the witch doctors of the surrounding tribes. were they ever printed with diagrams. The Zancigs--their tricks will puzzle Mankind for Years. Then it will not be nearly as interesting as yours. or Magic. I realise more that you are the centre. Houdini--well. you are the custodian of a thousand secrets which. Your mind is a storehouse of entrancing memories. retired. once and for all. and the clearing house. Well. of which you are the head. you have given us an idea of the humorous side of his character. going thousands of miles. HANNEN SWAFFER. Every time I enter your world of Magic. Horace Goldin's solemnity and serious mien have often impressed me. except yourself. and the lock is turned. Well. with a daring courage. In that little incident. your book takes us behind the scenes of his tragic end. I remember Chung Ling Soo. so that a Christian preacher might mystify the native members of his congregation. of course. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig.Introduction one of your Sealed Books of Mysteries. for I do not know anybody in the world. amateurs and those who do it for a living. would kill Magic. Now. They tell me there are 10.000. I wonder what will happen. as your illusionists always try to make me call it. I am sure your book will find 1. Your rooms are full of such possibilities.000. If I go on. For that reason. You have laid bare a great deal of that. the cheerful Scots-American. trembling at the door.000 readers. this is only a little of what I wanted to conjurers in people who are fascinated by all that concerns Conjuring. Your Zancig chapter is most illuminating. was the making of a great romantic story. as a vice-president of the Magicians' Club. and the mysteries reveal themselves from each printed page. even more. me night.

html [4/23/2002 3:41:31 PM] . 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 public. LONDON. he asked me if he could use the title for a book of his own that was then nearing completion. This book is not intended to be an autobiography.Foreword Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page FOREWORD. To this I agreed. and this. WILL GOLDSTON. and told Houdini that I would delay the publication of my own work in order that our books should not is published under the present title of Sensational Tales of Mystery Men. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. I decided to write a book to be called Magicians I have Met. When I told Harry Houdini of my idea. together with some of the original stories. Most of the published life stories I have read have bored me to distraction. Since that time I have collected further valuable material. SOME years ago.

A sound constitution pulled him through. 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 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. In the course of carrying on his trade as an iron smelter.html (1 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:41:32 PM] . IT IS not my intention to set down a detailed life story of Julius Zancig. 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. Julius Zancig was a Dane. Agnes--for such was the lady's name was of a gentle and retiring disposition. It was about this time that Julius met with a terrible accident which eventually proved the turning point in his he preferred the world to believe he was a Swede. Their first programmes were very simple. After a short courtship he proposed marriage and was accepted. for want of a better calling. When he had learnt all there was to be known about smelting. Her loneliness and extreme poverty touched Julius heart for the second time in his brief life. The Zancigs started their thought reading act when requested to do a small show for a Church Brotherhood Society. young Julius decided to emigrate to America where he thought he might stand a better chance of earning a living. and. For a time they had been sweethearts. but for some reason best known to himself. Zancig was invited to a gathering of Danish emigrants. It was one of the finest bargains he ever struck. his hand was badly burned by a mass of molten metal. his father decided to put him into the iron trade. Having no musical ability they hit on thought transference as being something novel and distinctive. I have neither the space nor inclination to do so. I feel that a few words on his humble start in life and his meteoric rise to fame will not be out of place. He was born of humble parents. and for many weeks he lay seriously ill. the friendship had been dropped in the manner so common to such child affairs. Shortly after his arrival in the United States. but as young Julius had grown into manhood.

and decided that the extraordinary couple from America possessed genuine psychic powers. he lived. was much Their first appearance was at the Alhambra. doing thirty or forty shows a day. "It is just my He must have saved an enormous amount of money during his lifetime.The Truth About The Zancigs thought reader. They went to Coney Island.html (2 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:41:32 PM] . it was "just my luck. I wrote a number of common Hebrew words on slips of paper and handed them to Julius asking his wife to spell them out." he said. "We cannot do it. Stead concurred in this view. The Zancigs worked at Hammerstein's Winter Garden for several months. and mentioned them to Hammerstein of New York." What a confession! But it was the simplicity and frankness of his nature which marked him as a man out of the ordinary." he agreed. "I prefer to say nothing. At first I did not understand it." he replied. and on the following day the "Daily Mail" (Lord Northcliffe's newspaper) was filled with columns lauding the extraordinary powers of the Zancigs." I had never heard it until Lord Northcliffe used it in connection with my work." "Tell me why you became so famous. As he said. and thought it had some connection with physic or medicine. Even when he was earning huge salaries at the best theatres in America." Zancig once confided to me. That test was duly held. His lordship. The magician saw possibilities in the act. as he had always done." On one occasion I asked him if he was really psychic. "Certainly. I owe it all to Lord Northcliffe. London. in quiet and humble surroundings." I asked. in particular. T. but eventually decided to undertake a tour in England. "Would you submit to a private test in my office?" I asked. It was probably the only one at which the Zancigs completely failed. It was a marvellous boost. "Psychic--that is the word which has made my fortune. and a press show arranged by Goldin proved a wonderful success. The latter attended a special demonstration. He took one glance at the words I had written." he replied simply. 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. Stead. and from that moment the pair were made. This performance was witnessed by Lord Northcliffe and W. and then handed the slips back to me. http://thelearnedpig. and it was here that Horace Goldin discovered them.

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

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

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

But Hanco was young. something in the style of Houdini himself.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:33 PM] . and the prettiness and agility of Hanco's lady assistant." "You are wrong. and told me he was giving up his act. That was the last time I ever saw him. he again assured me that he wished to keep his future destination secret. "If you would like to buy my barrel effect. moped and worried The girl tried to console him. He sold up his act. extremely puzzled. "I have no future. I was never more surprised in my life. you can have it for two pounds ten. and as he left my office." Hanco's barrel escape was the best trick in his act. and had decided to make an honest living. "The newspapers will tell you soon enough. and I realised that the young man was in earnest. I closed with his offer. http://thelearnedpig." was the curious reply. "There is a great future before but exceedingly clever piece of showmanship. IN 1903. and he became insanely jealous. One day towards the end of the year. In less than a week I read in the newspapers of his suicide. and this. Hanco always appeared on the stage in the garb of a convict--a simple. good conduct. and had learnt all his tricks whilst in gaol. and then." "But where are you going?" I queried.The Tragedy of Hanco Sensational Tales of Mystery Men by Will Goldston Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page THE TRAGEDY OF HANCO. Hanco had been madly in love with his assistant. together with the cleverness of the escapes. "Whatever for?" I asked. Hanco walked into my office. a new star arose in the firmament of magic. dramatically. with nothing to do. He had stabbed himself to death at his lodgings in Seymour Street. who did some wonderfully clever escape tricks. always ensured a good reception for the act. He had been granted an early release in view of his. His little speech always won the sympathy of the audience. when Harry Houdini was startling the audiences of two continents with his amazing escapes. He explained to his audiences that he was an ex-convict." Hanco replied. This hitherto unknown conjurer was a young man called Hanco. And gradually the sordid story came out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

didn't you?" "Oh Goldin travelling?" "Twenty-three miles an hour.The Truth about Goldin's Arrest The money was paid over." The magistrate agreed. "How fast was Mr. and Goldin was handed back one hundred dollars. and briefed a very capable attorney for his defence. of course. On the next day Goldin appeared in court. he had only parted with ninety-eight." said the policeman. Goldin must have been doing a good deal less than twenty-three miles an hour. That's common sense. although.html (4 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:36 PM] . and proceeded on his way at a leisurely fifteen miles an hour. 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 sir. That was the speed it registered." "I see. "How did you know that Mr. But. Goldin was travelling at twenty-three miles an hour?" "By my speedometer." said the counsel. pleased at this compliment on his professional ability. "Tell me." "Good. I suppose you overtook him rapidly on your motor bicycle. if you were travelling faster than the car. At length the case was called. then Mr. But the comedy was not yet ended. and the policeman appeared in the witness box to make his sworn statement. and Goldin was handed a receipt for a hundred dollars. Receiving final instructions to attend at the court early next morning. sir. with costs against the prosecution. he returned to his car.

pa/magos/books/goldston/06. Madame Cornell rolled off her chair in a well simulated faint. and it was here that they decided to put their idea into operation. http://thelearnedpig. I can see them now. It was an eerie scene by the river bank. "They have dropped the sack into the water. who was sitting blindfolded in the centre of the two American thought readers. Now they are on the banks of the river. They had obtained an engagement in a small hall in the Chicago suburbs.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. gave a piercing scream. The performance was stopped. During the performance. and made as though to fall from her chair." Here she gave the exact location of the scene she was witnessing. the plan misfired. Yes.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:37 PM] . for roguery and debasement far exceeds any other story I have heard. Driven to desperation. For several hours during the night. and battered his face in. a couple who had met with moderate success. "I have seen a murder! Two youths flung themselves upon an old man. Madame Cornell. Fortunately for the good of the profession. they concocted a great publicity scheme. playing the part of the distracted husband with no mean ability. motioning her partner to keep his distance. They are tying his body in a sack. whilst others informed the river authorities. and are hastening away. When the Zomahs were touring America." Some of them went to fetch policemen. The Cornells. and they became so famous that imitators experienced the greatest difficulty in obtaining engagements. their fame spread with lightning rapidity. SOME artists will go to drastic lengths in order to secure publicity. "What do you see?" "Away! away!" cried the woman. but the plan of the Cornells. "What is it? " shouted Cornell. they are putting weights in. and several people rushed from the building to the spot she had described in her "vision. and unfortunately for the couple." And with these last words. found their bookings dropping off alarmingly. Her words created great excitement amongst the audience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

for he was a magician of undoubted ability--an acknowledged master of his craft. the famous Chinese magi A few minutes later he died from internal hemorrhage. Of course. That is. I have given the matter a good deal of thoughtful attention. At the inquest which was subsequently held. I have no proof. Was Chung Ling Soo murdered? No. Although he masqueraded as a genuine Chinese. Let us examine the details of Soo's death.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. and he had performed it on http://thelearnedpig. 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. on 23rd March. I preferred to keep a discreet silence. He was killed in his last trick on the second performance of a Saturday night. Everyone seemed satisfied with this opinion." was extremely good. The tragedy caused something of a stir in theatrical circles at the time. And because I had nothing to go on except a few abstract theories which fitted in with the rather queer circumstances of the case. for Soo was a well-known figure throughout the 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. But the facts are pregnant with suspicion. deriding cries of the sceptics asking me for proof. Already I can hear the mocking. Chung Ling Soo's death was universally lamented. 1918. was shot through the chest on the stage of the Wood Green Empire. he was in reality a Scotch-American whose name was William Elsworth Robinson. a verdict of Accidental Death was returned. 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.html (1 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:42 PM] . everyone except Will Goldston--and possibly one or two other people who knew more than they cared to disclose. I do not think so. This illusion. 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. known as "Catching the Bullets.

They were carried back to the stage by a lady assistant. and apparently handed to a male assistant who placed them in a rifle. But it had not been shattered by the bullets. I must trespass on the good nature of my readers in order to furnish a brief explanation of the working of the trick. This goes to prove that the magician had not held the plate over his chest according to his usual custom. Thinking I might have overlooked them.Was Chung Ling Soo Murdered? hundreds of previous occasions without the slightest hitch or difficulty. Nobody ever claimed the reward. 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. have been done during the first and second performances on the Saturday night. As my friend entered the dressing room. a friend of mine who must remain nameless. I offered to pay £1 for each of the marked bullets when found. He had. Soo pitched forward on his face with a cry of "My God I You've shot me!" The plate fell from his grasp. shortly after the news of Soo's death had reached me. At the same time a faint click was heard. 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. merely dropped the marked bullets on the surface of the plate. happened to call on Soo in the interval between the two performances. Had he done so it must inevitably have been shattered. Two live bullets were passed to the audience and carefully marked. I have no proof. A fraction of a second after the assistant pulled the trigger. who handed them to Chung Ling Soo concealed beneath the rim of a plate. and it was seen that Soo had apparently caught the two bullets on the plate. The bullets had disappeared as strangely and as mysteriously as http://thelearnedpig. of course. supposing that the rifle barrel had been deliberately opened. The assistant took careful aim with the rifle and pulled the trigger.html (2 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:42 PM] .pa/magos/books/goldston/11. I repeat. This fact takes on an added importance when one considers that any damage done to the rifle must. and wishing to rid myself of the many uneasy suspicions in my mind. In reality the live bullets were retained by the girl. However. and was broken on the stage. 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. 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. whose hand was responsible? Again. Soo then took several steps up stage and held the plate to his chest. I found nothing. he found the magician toying with the rifle. On the fatal night everything seems to have gone wrong. The bullets placed in the rifle were duplicates.

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

Soo himself loaded the rifle which fired the fatal proving that Soo could not have held the plate before his chest according to his usual custom. 8. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. The marked (real) bullets which were used in the trick were never found. 6. The plate was not shattered by the bullets. Soo himself was seen handling the gun a few minutes before his performance. 7.html (4 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:42 PM] .Was Chung Ling Soo Murdered? 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

why don't you get rid of her--divorce her. In 1918. "getting it pretty rough. Although there is not the slightest doubt that Dame Fortune took a kindly interest in him throughout his lifetime. As an assistant in the double act she was admirable. "You don't know my wife." Subsequent events usually proved him right. be without interest. pulling a wry face.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:47 PM] . Frank was a great philosopher. One day Frank called the man aside and boldly asked him why he allowed his wife to make his life so miserable. but her decided views on the rights and privileges of a wife did not tend to increase the happiness of her sadly misunderstood husband. This particular man performed in a double act with his wife. FRANK Van Hoven was a kindly soul. Some unkind folk have described him as the luckiest magician of the two continents." Connubial bliss was at a discount. to use Frank's own words. This is not quite true." he would say when things went wrong. Nothing ever worried him much. "I've got no money http://thelearnedpig. "It'll turn out alright in the long run." "If you can't do anything with her. It's easy The following little story of his concern for the misfortunes of a fellow artist may not. and it was soon apparent to all behind the scenes that it was this good lady who really "bossed" the partnership." "But why don't you put your foot down?" "She's the only one who does that. Van Hoven was performing in vaudeville at Chicago. "I don't mind. One of the other artists at the theatre was.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. There were occasions when his generosity astounded even his closest friends. I have known occasions when his luck was anything but good." "You can tie a can on that stuff. "Gee!" replied the other. I think. and many of his less fortunate fellow artists have been grateful for his brotherly assistance." came the sharp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the well known West-end undertakers. "I don't like the looks of that there coffin. 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. locks. a dozen men rose to their feet." At this. and addressed himself to the audience "Ladies and gentlemen. Although the coffin had been made to special and do all that was in my power to prevent an escape. "I'm an undertaker in Poplar. and chains. This coffin has been made for me by a well known firm of undertakers. there was absolutely no trickery about it--at this point I perspired profusely--and it would indeed be a miraculous thing if Mr. and made their way to the stage. I managed to tell the audience that I was a representative of Jones & Howard (hoping fervently that no such firm existed). and the result of our labours was lying on the stage. who made it for you?" Raymond smiled sweetly. In my own mind I knew that Raymond was thoroughly scared. No doubt he will confirm all I have told you. I said. took no notice. Come on." he said. boxes. "If several gentlemen would step up on the stage to act as a committee. however." This was a contingency for which I was quite unprepared. "In the course of my career. Raymond. "a representative of the firm is in the theatre tonight. Raymond was able to get out. guv' Most people are aware that a real coffin is fastened down with screws which lie flush with the surface of the lid. Unless I could help him his act would be a failure." he shouted. Mr. I am about to perform the most extraordinary coffin escape that has ever been seen. however. I have escaped from coffins. Raymond.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:49 PM] . had commissioned us to make the coffin. "Perhaps you would be good enough to come on to the stage. I noticed that the red-cheeked interpreter was amongst them. and tell the audience about the coffin. "As a matter of fact.Raymond and the Undertaker the lid was fastened with large butterfly nuts. http://thelearnedpig. he pointed towards me." As he spoke. sir. I added that I should be pleased to assist in the screwing down. and have never once been defeated. appeared quite unconcerned. and screw me in the coffin I should feel greatly obliged. and I went on to the stage wondering desperately what I should say. 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. he bowed. However. and continued his discourse." he said. Walking to the front of the stage. The performer.

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"!
Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:49 PM]

What Hannen Swaffer told the Magic Circle

Sensational Tales of Mystery Men
by Will Goldston
Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page


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]

except spirit photography and materialisation. Hocking tell you that you go into a dark room wanting to be deluded. I have heard Northcliffe's voice speaking to me in Denis Bradley's house as loudly as I am speaking to-night. or there would have been no Quakers. or there would not be any Jewry. and we never deceive ourselves. It happened to George Fox. and do not want to know. We had twenty kinds of phenomena in our flat last year--fourteen different kinds on Boxing Night.html (3 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:41:51 PM] .--that these phenomena do not mean that people survive death. Barbanell.P. 'What evidence have you got anywhere for the http://thelearnedpig. 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." 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. I could go on for hours explaining everything about my sittings and lay my cards on the table. Mr. Men like Mr. or there would not have been a Wesleyan ministry. Dingwall then spoke for the Magic Circle and was replied to by Mr. Dingwall will. Roman Catholicism teems with it. I am too used. It happened to Christ and Paul. A few members of the audience gave their opinion and Messrs. That is certainly not true of persons like myself. 'Could the scientific records that were made have been faked?' 'Yes. and Dingwall made further speeches. St.R. What happens in our presence is what happened to Moses. it is not evidence that I have lived.What Hannen Swaffer told the Magic Circle kind of phenomena known to Hocking. and in my own drawing-room I have proved the same thing. Mr. Swaffer then resumed. simply because you have discovered my skull. Paul believed it. Mahomet had evidence of it. We never sit in the dark. we never pay any or there would not have been any Christianity. to analysing facts.' I said 'The photographs produced could have been taken on Ealing Common last winter?' 'Yes. as a journalist. but if these phenomena take place together. no doubt.' he said. My difficulty this evening is the inability to relate in twenty minutes the experiences of four years. "From the beginning of history there have been witnesses of the fact that so-called supernatural phenomena has taken place. It happened to Wesley.' he replied. tell you--and it has been his business for five years as the paid research officers of the S. you can no more say that it is not evidence of life hereafter than you can say that. 1927. They were facts which were beyond dispute. "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. Barbanell.

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

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

pa/magos/books/goldston/20. But why couldn't you make it last longer?" Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig." he said. It's brought the house down. Montague. the manager approached him with outstretched hand. "your show was great.The M. Who Does Magic he came off. " (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:41:52 PM] .

Me's Prince Acid Drop." I sir. quite six foot in height." "Acid Drop?" "Sure. sir." "Righto. I found the words "Prince Askedop stabbed his partner." "Wait a minute--me call my partner. My friends call me Acid Drop." I assented. He walked into my office one hot "Good morning. http://thelearnedpig. "You Mr. sir." "That's more awkward still. I came across my diary for 1915. He was a fine figure of a man. "Primo. What sort of illusions do you want?" "Don't know. Amongst the entries for July. that's awkward. when looking through some old books. Primo Mulatti. He got the money. "How much do you want to spend?" "About £300.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:41:53 PM] . and flung himself into an easy chair." he said. and his coal black skin and thick woolly hair told me he came from West Africa. "I haven't seen you before. I recalled the adventure of the dusky Prince.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. Can you build me real magic show?" "Certainly." "Ah. as vividly as if they had been standing at my side. Goldston?" "That's me. It was in the early part of the month that I first encountered the Prince. My real name is Askedop--I'm a Prince in my own land. grinning from ear to ear. have I?" "No. What do you know about magic?" "Nothin'." and the whole story came back to me. and his unfortunate partner. NOT long ago. my prospective client rose to his feet and walked to the door." As he spoke." he bellowed in a voice of thunder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Regrettable Incident

Sensational Tales of Mystery Men
by Will Goldston
Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page


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.
Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:01 PM]

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
Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page


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."
Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page [4/23/2002 3:42:01 PM]

" "What do you mean?" I asked. he might easily have died a poor and unknown man. he decided to carry out this same programme. Possibly they hated the thought of publicity. that they wished to have nothing to do with him. accompanied by an army of press photographers. these good people refused to meet him. When he was performing in Paris before the war." I HAVE already made some reference to Houdini's love of publicity. and informed him in a manner which left no room for doubt. "Heavens. the eminent French illusionist.html (1 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:02 PM] . and accordingly hunted up the grave and records of Robert 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. Harry was not blind to the value of sentimental publicity. That anyone should refuse to see him. "what's wrong with me? Anyone would think I'm a leper! But they'll be sorry for it before I'm finished." This idea tickled Harry immensely. I have never learnt the reason for this refusal on the part of Houdin's relatives. and inquired for the whereabouts of Houdin's surviving relatives." he said. On the following day his likeness would appear in the papers with such words as "Great Magician pays homage to a departed Then. and incidentally had the desired effect of increasing his popularity. 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. To his utter astonishment. was totally beyond his comprehension. the great Houdini. This public rebuff made Harry very bitter. He invented so many schemes for bringing his name before the public that I could fill several volumes on those alone. standing bareheaded whilst his photograph was taken. Will. But Houdini could not. http://thelearnedpig. most of them succeeded. Had they not done so. He went even further. take this point of view. Some of them failed. more likely than not they desired to be left in quietness. It was his very life blood. or would not. he would take a huge wreath to the graveside.

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

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

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

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

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

but you can take it from me that Houdini had the greatest shock of his life. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig.Did Houdini Fail? expect him to admit it. I am afraid we shall never know what actually happened.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:04 PM] .pa/magos/books/goldston/33. He afterwards told me that he would sooner face death a dozen times than live through that ordeal

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

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

Some months afterwards the Rev. that Houdini was an unconscious medium. and placed in a bank vault. 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. 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 knew that he was no more qualified to speak on the matter than millions of other people. In the first place let me say definitely that Houdini was never a spiritualistic medium. As all the world knows. Arthur And. but not entirely unsuccessful. 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 irreverent. A few of the smaller magicians who were unable to offer a reasonable explanation of the http://thelearnedpig. 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. Houdini. He communicated the message to Mrs. The news created a great sensation in the United States. But in spite of the fact that he was always endeavouring to expose and ridicule every spiritualistic medium with whom he came in contact. Had I the mind to do so. who confirmed the fact that it was the secret code word which her husband had arranged.Is 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. in order that the truth should eventually be known to either him or his wife. I could explain every one of the American's illusions. Houdini himself was the first to die. 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. The code message was secreted in a sealed compact. Houdini was never entirely convinced that spiritualism was a fraud. Arthur Ford received a spirit message which purported to come from the dead magician. publicity stunt.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:05 PM] . Although he gained much publicity by publicly denouncing the religion as one of the biggest and cruellest forms of swindling in existence.

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

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

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. "Good morning." "Am I really?" "Yes. "Er--good morning. not a little startled.html (1 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:06 PM] . He approached the car. This attention urged Maurice to further he noticed a very smart limousine car that was drawn up to the curb just outside my front door." "I'm afraid I don't. following up his advantage. "It's a very nice morning. Nine men out of ten would have passed the girl by. and doffed his hat in the approved style. but you are a very nice girl. "Yes. But not so Maurice. THE Great Maurice. beautiful." "Excuse me if I say so. Twelve years ago. 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. for she appeared to be entirely wrapped in her own thoughts. http://thelearnedpig. the well known French card manipulator. he was walking through Leicester Square with the intention of calling on me to discuss some business affairs which we had in is a man of an impulsive and somewhat obstinate disposition. As he was about to enter my office. Perhaps you know me--my name is Maurice.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." replied the girl." he said." The conjurer produced a photograph and his professional card which the girl studied with obvious interest. "Are you in the profession?" he asked." went on the conjurer.

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

pa/magos/books/goldston/ (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:06 PM] .Maurice and the Girl in the Car http://thelearnedpig.

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

" "Do you mean to tell me that you didn't realise I was pulling that fellow's leg?" Maurice looked annoyed.The Great Maurice and a New Illusion "No. "is to get your friends to subscribe. and make yourself managing director. half dog If you use your brains and invent one.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:07 PM] . "Since I was a kid in knickerbockers. Maurice gripped me by the arm." "It's really alive?" "As much alive as you are." "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. mister." "What is the price of this person?" "I'll charge you £350. I'll buy that half woman. "What about a freak that is half a woman. This freak will make your fortune." The dusky one jumped back as if I had shot him." "The best thing you can do." he said. "The top half. "What's your price to me?" I looked at him in amazement. "My goodness. trying to keep a straight face." he said excitedly." I said. "Isn't there any such person?" he demanded. "Say." The negro evidently thought this a good suggestion. "That's a lot of money. Maurice?" I asked. and promised to call again in a few days when he had collected the money. But everything I proposed met with the same objection. It's much too old. "How long have you been a conjurer." "Well. I can tour the world http://thelearnedpig. He picked up his hat. As the door closed behind At this the negro's eyes lit up. I burst out laughing. they were all too old. "Which half is the woman?" he asked. Form a liability company. half a dog?" I demanded. At last I grew desperate. "Of course not. I'll be--.

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

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

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
Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page


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]

"I thought you were a fraud. "For one http://thelearnedpig. These pressmen will assist me. I must examine you. But those who had seen Murray in Shanghai would not have recognized him now. I don't mind losing in the least. for you have more than proved your ability. modestly." "You need not worry about the money. "It wasn't very difficult. Murray agreed to accept Vinoff's offer. both men caught the western-bound express." After some further discussion. no. He was dressed in the garb of a Russian peasant. Murray." Murray saw no point in objecting to this proposal. Thirty thousand dollars was a large sum of money." The thinly veiled hint was taken. The locks were not difficult. wondering what he might expect next from this strange man.html (2 of 5) [4/23/2002 3:42:09 PM] .pa/magos/books/goldston/39. I myself will give you a guarantee of thirty thousand dollars. Two days later. "It is better that you travel in disguise." replied the loser. and the Russian seemed confident that the project would prove a success. they pushed him forward into the strong-room. "Good day.Murray--His Greatest Escape "Good morning. But of my business you know nothing." returned the other warmly. Five minutes later Murray had escaped. you see. I am certain we should play to big business." Vinoff had assured him. and turned the key. "Mr." returned Murray. almost unintelligibly. The door had hardly closed behind the last of the newspaper men. Perhaps you have discovered that I am a Russian. Murray waited in silence. Here is your cheque for five hundred dollars. you can't." he said. As for the theatres--well. Besides. gentlemen. and that my name is Vinoff. "I should want a financial guarantee. "Perhaps I might examine the locks of the strongroom door?" "Oh. On the other hand. I don't know what the theatres are like in Siberia. sir. I hope you have had an enjoyable morning. and was thoroughly when his companion began speaking rapidly. How would you like to tour for three months in Siberia?" "That's no good to me. "That's not in the rules." he smiled. you are a clever man. Now I tell you frankly I am interested in you. what does it matter?" Wherever we go." He turned suddenly to the waiting pressmen. When the examiners were satisfied that he had no implements concealed in his clothing. He received the congratulations of the journalists and his challenger with good grace. "Why on earth did you challenge me to open a door like that?" "Well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

he could have papered the walls of his house four times over. Before the astonished eyes of a Select Committee. he vanished the cage. nothing will go wrong. the wire bars being represented by lengths of fishing line. quite he seemed to forget that he was a man on trial so to speak." Within an hour I had constructed a small cage. It was built up on a framework of cane strips. "It's the most wonderful piece of luck that you've ever had. It was the finest free advertisement any magician has ever had. I can make you a cage right now that will not injure the bird. When the dreaded hour came. I had a long talk with him. so that the canary should not injure its wings against the cane supports. Think of the tremendous publicity!" "But supposing--" "Don't suppose. If you take care. I arranged a fine mesh hair net on the inside of the cage. and became once more the polished conjuror. suave and confident. His natural gift for showmanship had pulled him through. As Carl was very nervous on the day of the demonstration. If Carl had collected all the news cuttings which appeared about him. The papers could not forget the incident.Carl Hertz and the Bird Cage "Rubbish. man!" I exclaimed. and assured him that the show would prove a tremendous success. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. from beneath his coat. however. and produced the canary. But he refused to be comforted. and could only speak of the tremendous risk he was incurring. and he was not slow to take advantage of it.html (2 of 2) [4/23/2002 3:42:19 PM] .pa/magos/books/goldston/44.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

willing to speak on any subject which interested me. as the night the day. when the secret leaked out. His manner was most friendly." I refrained from mentioning the steel cage incident. I never had occasion to revise that opinion. the trick was used by several big illusionists in Europe and America. I refrained from again approaching him owing to the fact that I had been very coldly treated by his partner." he said. I had his friendship. the American coin manipulator.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:21 PM] .pa/magos/books/goldston/48. At the time it struck me that he was a man who would never stoop to a mean or underhand action. I was disappointed too. this claim was never substantiated. To thine own self I be true. Before I left that evening. But I came away with something far more valuable than a mere commercial contract. who found me a customer willing to pay more than twice the amount I would have accepted from agreeably surprised when Devant called on me one morning. I found him an excellent conversationalist. I was. I remember thinking how well he lived up to the advice of the greatest of our poets:-". calmly stating that he had invented the trick himself. therefore. and cordially invited me to visit him at his flat. I showed it to T. I was surprised at this. and humbly assured him that the fault would be rectified in the future. I decided to build the illusion myself. and this being so. . "You supply our leading magicians with apparatus. one foreign magician accused me of being a fraud. I thought it advisable to avoid meeting any of the business associates of the Grand Old Man of St. That. Devant had given me an order for several new tricks. for nothing would have given me greater pleasure than to have seen my trick in the hands of so polished a conjurer as Devant. of course. Some years later. Although I was anxious to claim Devant as a friend. My visit to Devant was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. but rather than run the risk of further friction. . John Nevil Maskelyne. for his quiet and reserved nature was mistaken for unsociability. is another story. And it shall follow. he could not substitute another trick. A few weeks afterwards. Thou can'st not then be false to any man. George's Hall. and in the course of many years business with him. "but you have never advised me when you have got anything good. Later. Nelson Downs.David Devant--The Master Magician Maskelyne. http://thelearnedpig. Amongst magicians he was a sadly misunderstood man. for I had been given to understand that he bought apparatus from a well-known magical inventor called Frank Hiam. Needless to say. and he added that he was anxious to purchase some new tricks.

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

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

pa/magos/books/goldston/49. But my satisfaction was short lived. "What are we going to do about it?" he asked. I managed to fix up a comfortable room. because you were top of the bill. I've a good mind to call in the police. 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. and explained what I wanted them to "You're a fraud. They were to be "horses. you never had nothing. One had to chew candles. another was to drink paraffin oil. Each man was then allotted a different task. that's what you are." I returned heatedly. You've come here on false pretences." Taking me at my word. and explained the whole situation. and they won't have anything else. I was horrified to learn that my scenery had been sent on to another town by mistake. so I can't do any tricks. "It's either hypnotism or nothing at all. He received me no more kindly than the landlady. My plan of campaign was simple. where my story was confirmed." "You can put me on last." I suggested." a term that is used in the profession for a hypnotist's secret confederates. The scenery can't reach here before tomorrow. "But I warn you--they'll give you a rough time. my "horses" were to come on to the stage. They want to see you do magic." "All right." I made the most of the short time left at my disposal." "That's no good. "Do you know what you are?" he said." I argued. I took the men round to the back of the theatre. and the door was slammed violently in my face! At last. Things looked somewhat serious. "The whole show's ruined." "There's nothing else to be done. You never had no scenery. When I went to the railway station. all right. yourself and make inquiries. and I sought out the manager of the theatre." "Rubbish. and picked out half a dozen men whose appearance seemed to indicated a fondness for drink. I visited every public house in the town. whilst another was to have http://thelearnedpig.My Impromptu Act "Dirty dogs!" was the startling reply. But I can do a hypnotism act that ought to satisfy the audience. When I asked for assistants from the audience." agreed the manager gloomily. the manager walked down to the station.html (2 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:42:22 PM] . however. "Go down to the station.

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

html (4 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:42:22 PM] . Of course. A strange sight met my eyes. he pranced across the stage. they did not betray the trust I had put in them. and. Waving his shirt above his Impromptu Act explanation when an ear-splitting shout caused me to turn my 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. Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. "Where's my blushing bride?" I need hardly say that the performance was stopped immediately. 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. Although I spoke severely to my assistant for his unseemly conduct. I played to crowded houses for the rest of the week. shouted. the manager would not allow me to change my programme. My assistant had stripped himself of every inch of clothing. Suddenly he stopped. The curtain came down amidst shrieks of laughter. like good fellows. and. in spite of the fact that my scenery arrived on the following day. in reality I had much to thank him for. In addition. cupping his hands around his mouth.

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

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

pa/magos/books/goldston/50. I then went inside the Pavilion. First of all I knocked off the padlock of the front doors with a heavy stick. At the end of the same week. and for the rest of the season. I do not know to this day. There was no one about.The Battle of the Pierrots Very early the following morning I was told of their latest move. I went down to the Pagoda." 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 morning. the entertainment of the population and holiday makers of West Kirkby was left entirely to "Will Goldston's Court Pierrots.html (3 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:23 PM] ." Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page http://thelearnedpig. When the news became known that "The Rosettes" had wrecked my show. I had all the public sympathy I required. and smashed up all my own props and scenery. Whether he told me this out of sheer kindness of heart. Fortunately my gamble succeeded. and saw that none of my own bills was visible. I went to the police station and informed the inspector that the Pagoda had been wrecked by some unknown intruders. or whether lie really imagined that he had seen my rivals. When this was the other party left the town in disgust. so I decided to take a big risk.

My Cemetery Adventure

Sensational Tales of Mystery Men
by Will Goldston
Next | Previous | Table of Contents | Home Page


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 (4 of 4) [4/23/2002 3:42:24 PM] .pa/magos/books/goldston/51.My Cemetery Adventure That is why I will not walk through a cemetery at night.

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

pa/magos/books/goldston/52.html (2 of 3) [4/23/2002 3:42:24 PM] ." One night. "Thank you. a woman walked http://thelearnedpig. and an ivory ball. The old Magician's conjuring apparatus consisted of a few coins. I included it as a space filler. "I'll keep it as it is. "It will only take me two or three hours. where the Count made a hearty meal." said the "Would you like that?" I asked. He asked me to call on him the following day. He enclosed a cutting which he "hoped might be of some use to me. and thought no more about it." I saw the tears come into the old magician's eyes. some coloured handkerchiefs. "I can soon alter those for you. news item would be of interest to my readers. About a week after my magazine bad appeared in print." "No. Some years later I edited a magical journal known as "The Magician." replied the old man sternly. Count. It appeared that he had sold all his best tricks when he had first found himself in need of money. On the back of the slip the Count had written "Liverpool Echo" and the previous day's date. it was removed from the window. where a conjurer had been killed by his girl assistant." "But I have no money. as he wished to give me some of his most exclusive tricks.000 I pointed to an overcoat in a nearby tailor's window." Therein I made a mistake which eventually cost nearly £1. We entered the tailor's. And now for the sequel. laddie. for the cuffs came well over the old man's hands. I was anxious to learn all that could be taught about magic." "Let me give it to you. "You can have it if you want it. we went to a restaurant. "This is not time for pleasantries. The long sleeves will keep my hands warm. On leaving the tailor. and I asked to be allowed to see the overcoat I had chosen. I received a letter from Count Castaglioni." he said simply. It was an excellent fit with the exception of the sleeves. I naturally assumed that the cutting had been taken from the previous day's edition of The "Echo. a length of string.An Error that Cost 1.000! Thinking the. when I was working late in an endeavour to get all my material ready for press on the following day. And no amount of persuasion could make him alter his decision. "I'm not joking." I insisted. After much difficulty." said the tailor. and Castaglioni tried it on. and did as he requested. and assured me that he felt much better." The cutting related to a murder in South America. But I was doomed to disappointment. Count.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pa/magos/index. http://thelearnedpig.html [4/23/2002 3:42:28 PM] .Members Only Index Page Please use your username and password to access the Members-Only

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful