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The Official Houdini Seance

October 31


Wednesday, October 31st


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Houdini died 92 years ago on Halloween and this will be the 91st consecutive Official Houdini Séance – and it’s first occurence in Baltimore. Houdini performed in Maryland many times over his career – perhaps he will once again make an appearance!


Harry Houdini died at Grace Hospital in Detroit on Halloween 1926 from complications of acute appendicitis. He had told his wife, Bessie Houdini—and close friend, confidant and mentalist Joe Dunninger—that if he died he would make every effort to communicate with the living and established a secret code to guarantee proof if indeed he was successful. Every year since his death, an official séance was held to see if he could come across the veil and prove the spiritual afterlife existed. Unfortunately, he never visited from beyond.


Houdini with Bess and Cecelia, courtesy of the Library of Congress.


After 10 years, Bess Houdini declared the séance efforts over; however, Houdini’s brother Hardeen took up the torch and continued the tradition for many more years. There was never a sign from Houdini. When Hardeen passed away, his protégé and magic collector, Sydney Radner, was directed to continue the séance and did so every year until his death at 91 years of age in 2011. He was accompanied by his good friend Tom Boldt for many years in this endeavor.


Now Syd’s son, Bill Radner, along with Tom, continue the tradition. They have selected a small group of Houdini experts and enthusiasts to be part of the “Inner Circle” and sit at the séance table each year. In the past, these séances have been small and private; however, as the interest in Houdini has only grown over time, the official séance was opened to the public in 2012.


This program is presented in relation to the Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini exhibit, on display June 24, 2018 – January 21, 2019.


October 31