Scranton, Wilkes Barre (Pocono region) Appearances, other magicians for those who love magic.
Houdini and his younger brother Theodore or Theo as the family called him started out in showbusiness while still in their early teens. They worked beer halls, Coney Island and the Worlds Fair of 1893 in Chicago. That Worlds Fair was the biggest until that time and brought the famed dancer, Little Egypt to prominence. He also met Horice Goldin there who snubbed him for being too rough and unsuccessful. They later became good friends. He also met his life long friend T. Nelson Downs, who unlike Goldin, took a likeing to the brash young upstart. In fact it was Downs who suggested that if Houdini got a chance he should go to Europe as show business was bigger there and one could work every country in Eruope with a magic act as language was no barrier. It was in Europe that Houdini first became a super star and was then brought to the United States for grand sums of money. T. Nelson Downs is considered, even today, the greatest magician with coins of all time. He was able to work the largest and best theaters in the world with objects no bigger than a sliver dollar.
Houdini and his brother Hardeen played our local area many times, as Scranton was an important theater town. Hardeen played the Academy Theaters in Scranton and Wilkes Barre as well and the Poli.
Although Houdini hated the many imitators who cropped up all over the world to imitate the Challenge Escape Act that he invented he allowed his brother to do basically the same show. A fantastic sign of family loyality. Although he loved magic and his fellow magicians he was furious at those who copied him. He would challenge them, sue them and embarass them to protect his turf. Yet he loved his fellow magicians, left a large sum of money in his will for the Society of American Magicians and even had the crest of the Society on his huge place of burial. He was the president of the Society Americans for ten years until he died. He encouraged magicians all over the world to join the Society and was in many ways responsible for its world wide growth. In addition, everywhere he traveled he would seek out the graves of past well known magicians and pay for the upkeep and repair of the grave sites. He amassed the largest collection of memoribilia, books and posters about the history of theater in addition to magic ever amassed by an individual, and gave the priceless collection to the Library of Congress, so the history of magic would be preserved. His name lives on partly because of his tremendous gifts back to the society that embraced him. Collectors and magicians generally horde and hide their artifacts and sell them for profit, not so the great Houdini.
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