Earliest Known First-Hand Account Of Harry Houdini’s Death
Earliest Known First-Hand Account Of Harry Houdini’s Death
Go Back

Earliest Known First-Hand Account Of Harry Houdini’s Death

1925 & 1926. Handwritten letter by magician Harry Houdini’s wife, Beatrice, dated “19 December 1926” on photogravure letterhead accompanied with silver gelatin photograph (taken 1925), both signed and dated by Beatrice Houdini in ink, photographer’s line “Butler, Chicago” in negative lower left, 26.4 x 20.5cm (letter) and 23.5 x 18.6cm (photograph). Letter has slight tears and surface loss to edges, stains and old folds; photograph has silvering, slight scuffs and foxing, crease to upper right corner.

Provenance: Edwin A. Dearn estate. The letter includes the Houdini’s address “278 W. 113th St, NYC.” The photograph is inscribed “To Mr and Mrs E.A. Dearn from Beatrice and Harry Houdini. Dec. 1926. NYC.”

The letter, dated “Dec 19-26”, reads “My dear Mr and Mrs Dearn, no doubt you will have heard of the passing of my beloved husband. I have just found the photos of you both in wedding dress amongst his letters, and I wept, thoughts of our own wedding 32 years ago swept over me, and I am almost overcome with grief. We were so very happy, and he was taken from me, I cannot understand why – he wasn’t ill long – he had broken a bone in his foot, whilst doing his torture water trick – lying on a couch in his dressing room between acts – a student playfully punched him in the abdomen, causing a ruptured appendix, my darling man complained until the following day (Sat.) and from that foolish blow, I was a widow, he was the same brilliant glorious mind, until 20 minutes before God took him, I held him in my arm, screaming in his ear ‘Harry, Harry, don’t go’, he raised his dear head, opened wide his eyes, and went – forever. Today it is 7 weeks, my eyes are blind with tears, and cannot believe he will never come back to me. Please do not think I’m morbid, I don’t know if you folks ever met me, I always was a most cheerful person, I appeared with Houdini on the stage up to his very last show, we were never separated, in all his adventures I was with him – but this his greatest adventure, he went alone – he spared me all the hardship, he was so tender and loving, and now I am alone, I fear to face the darkness without his guiding hand, but he left me many tasks to perform, and I must do as my darling wished. I like to hear from those whom he loved, and I know he loved you, for he preserved your letters so well. I also would be your friend, so write to me, with much love to you both, Beatrice Houdini.”

Postscript at top of letter reads “Am sending a photo of Harry and myself taken 1925.”

Edwin A. Dearn (Brit./Aust., 1892–1980) was a magician and member of The Magic Circle in London. He corresponded regularly with Houdini during the 1920s before moving to Shanghai, China, where he performed there for about 25 years. During the early 1950s, he fled China to escape communist rule, moving and settling in Sydney, Australia. Dearn was an enthusiastic collector of magic memorabilia, books, and ephemera, and during his lifetime he was in contact with many other magicians worldwide. Ref: Houdini Museum.

.
Item #CL203-36

Price (AUD): $19,500.00  other currencies

See all items in Cabinet, Photography