Looking for something fun to do on Halloween? Why not help out the good folks at the Houdini Museum in Pennsylvania, and hold a séance attempting to contact the world’s most famous (and very dead) magician.
The museum’s website has put out an internet plea:“We are asking everyone to attempt to contact Harry Houdini sometime during Halloween for the 24 hours of October 31st and email us with any results and lack of results. No kooks please, this is a serious Halloween test and tribute.”
As random as this seems, there’s a tradition of holding Houdini séances. Before Houdini died on October 31st, 1926, he had a long-standing pact with his wife to try to come back and contact her. Justin Nobel tells the story over at Digital Dying:
The séance tradition was begun by Houdini’s widow, Bess. Before Houdini died the couple had agreed upon a code he would whisper in her ear should he ever return to her after death. Bess spent nine Halloweens waiting for Houdini, a ritual that grew increasingly flamboyant. A decade after his death the séance was held on the roof of Hollywood’s Knickerbocker Hotel. An hour passed and nothing happened. The celebrity guests rose to leave when all the sudden a crack of thunder split the air and a torrent of rain fell from the heavens. Could it be the great Houdini, some surely thought. …
Bess asked Walter B. Gibson, creator of the fictional character, “The Shadow”, which he had written more than 300 books about, to carry on the séance tradition. Gibson held the séance at the Magic Towne House, a well-known New York City magic spot. Gibson asked Dorothy Dietrich, a famous escapist and the first woman ever to catch a bullet in her teeth, to take over the séances after he died. Dietrich brought the tradition to the Houdini museum.
Halloween Houdini events have been held in other places. For 68 years, both magicians and the non-magical journeyed to his grave at New York City’s Machpelah Cemetery for a ceremony whose climax involved breaking a wooden wand and chanting: “The curtain has at last been rung down.”
For the full story, check out Justin’s article.