Thursday, March 24, 2011

Harry Houdini's Brooklyn Lady

Harry and Bess Houdini pictured during the first year of their marriage. 
Today is the birth anniversary of Harry Houdini (March 24, 1874).

Although we may think of him as a solo act, for almost the entirety of his career, the great illusionist was assisted by his wife, Bess (Wilhelmena Beatrice Rahner), a Brooklyn girl of German descent.

Harry Houdini, 1899
They met at Coney Island in 1894, where Harry was doing an act with his brother and Bess was in a song and dance act called the Floral Sisters.

They were married within weeks of their initial meeting. The tiny and nimble Bess (at five feet tall) remained his performing partner until his death on October 31, 1926.

For ten years after her husband's Halloween passing, Bess held a seance at his grave. After that time she gave up, remarking, "Ten years is long enough to wait for any man."

She passed away in 1943 while on a train from L.A. to New York.

Top photo from Library of Congress/Right photo from AP


Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

I think I saw a girl dressed identically to Bess Houdini at a bar in Williamsburg last night.