In 2017, Mrs. Houdini: A Novel, by Victoria Kelly hit bookstores. The novel is the story of Bess Houdini, who is best remembered as the wife of legendary magician Harry Houdini. The story moves between two time periods: after Harry’s death and during their many decades of marriage. After he dies, Bess does her best to reach him in the other world.
Though they were of different faiths and different temperaments (Bess was Catholic and easygoing and Harry was Jewish and passionate), they made it work. Bess, in addition to being part of her husband’s act, took care of the behind-the-scenes duties that were not seen by the public. When she meets a young photographer who wants to help to reconnect with Harry, she learns that his magic may have been more than a fantasy.
I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of The Other Einstein. Bess is not just the pretty assistant in barely there clothing or the wife stuck in the domestic sphere. She is an integral part of her husband’s career and life. Without her, he would not become the legend whose life and work still inspire magicians today.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Mrs. Houdini: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.
Harry Houdini was without a doubt, one of the most iconic magicians in our modern age. He revolutionized the magic act as we know it to be today.
The 1953 movie, Houdini, starred then IRL couple Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh as Harry and Bess Houdini. The film follows the life and career of Houdini as he becomes known for doing what seems to be the impossible.
The best way I can describe this film is that it is the average biopic. In addition, it was made during the height of the power of the studio system and Hays code, which means that some of the narrative of the real couple that inspired this movie maybe more fiction than fact.
Harry Houdini is a g-d among magicians. From the street magician doing simple card tricks to the glitziest magician on the biggest stage on the Vegas strip, he is among the immortals. But he was also a human being.
Born Ehrich Weiss in Hungary in 1874, he emigrated with his family to America as a child. Taking the stage name of Harry Houdini, he became world famous during his lifetime and since his death in 1926, he has become a legend.
The History Channel two part series, Houdini , stars Adrian Brody as the legendary magician as Kristen Connolly as his wife, Bess. I watched the first part last night. It is a well made series, the production values are excellent. What I enjoyed was the time travelling aspect of the screen play, going back to Harry’s childhood and then returning to his adult self. Harry and Bess, despite their fame and status are normal people with the same problems that we all face. Their marriage is not all butterflies and roses, as any marriage is. What I am enjoying about the program is seeing the the real people under the legend.
The first part aired last night at 9 PM EST, the second part airs tonight at 9 PM EST. I recommend it.