Another entry for the Hardeen Chronology. On January 31, 1913 the Player wrote that Hardeen would appear in 2 weeks in Lowell Massachusetts at the Bowdoin Square Theater.
Hardeen , the Handcuff King , who was on the bill , never played to a more appreciative audience . An artist who can attract the youngsters is always sure of being able to please the elders . Hardeen has cancelled western bookings in order to play Lowell this week and the Bowdoin Square theater next week . Chicago will be visited by the handcuff wizard in a fortnight .
Another entry for the Hardeen Chronology. On March 27th 1909 The Cambridge Tribune reported that Hardeen would appear at Keith’s Theatre week of March 29th 1909 in Boston.
Hardeen, the handcuff king, who is now doing feats that are said to surpass anything formerly done in this line, as he escapes from trunks, straight-Jackets and especially devised apparatus for holding prisoners.
Another entry for the Hardeen Chronology. March 13th 1909 The New York Clipper reported that Hardeen would appear at Keith’s Theatre week of the 15th. Keith’s was in Pawtucket Rhode Island. I did some research and found that it was called Keith’s Bijou and was on 30 Broad Street in Pawtucket. Unfortunately the building was demolished.
Credits: Picture of Keith’s Bijou Cinema Treasures, Current view of Broad Street Google Maps.
This article was written prior Hardeen’s appearance in San Diego the week of January 27 1917, the Coronado Eagle printed this story about a cat pulling a “Hardeen” (Not the usual “Pulled a Houdini!”).
RIVAL OF HARDEEN
Hardeen, the handcuff king, has nothing on Ignatz No. 1 cat of Coronado. The neighbors complained « of Ig’s proclivities in the noise line, and the row he kicked up during the still small hours, and the Health officer asked us to kindly keep him muzzled or something so the neighbors could sleep. We put him in an old kitchen coop, and Ig. went out through a hole about as big as a dollar and a half, and came right up and wanted something to eat. Next we put him in another coop, and he got out before we turned around.’ The next evening we put him in a barrel, with a big heavy box on top, and in a few minutes he was out howling again. We put him back into the barrel, with a 150 pound weight on top, and Father bet $10 that he wouldn’t get out, but when we went the next morning to let him get out and enjoy the fog Ig. was gone. He had gnawed a stave of the barrel, actual size 2% inches wide, and squeezed out • through the hole. I guess the only thing to do is to get a steel cage and put him in it. Meantime, we hope the neighbors will be patient, ’cause we don’t want Ig. to annoy anybody, but as we have paid the license fee as made and provided by law, we claim its protection, and don’t propose to see the cat shot down in cold blood, on our own lot, just because he feels the call of the wild. The female cats should be tied up and kept from annoying the males, and then this nightly concert. business would he stopped. Incidentally, we have learned the names of several owners of cats who have not complied with the ordinance regarding the purchase of’a license, and unless they have paid the license by next week the names will be published in our cat column. Owners of dogs who have failed to conme through will have a column of their own. We want to help the Marshal. Besides, we feel that the ordinances apply to all, and should be respected by all alike. If publicity will help, we will furnish it. Viola!
Adding more to the Hardeen Chronology. Here is an article printed on February 14, 1913. Hardeen “The Handcuff King” appeared at the Orpheum “The Palace Theatre” in Chicago IL. The Palace unfortunately does not stand today.
Hardeen at Palace
The Palace music hall holds a bill of exceptional merit this week . All acts are up to the standard and have pleased the patrons of the house who have attended the performances this week . A Grand Opera trio composed of Giuseppe Campanari , Mme. Langori , and Maestro F . Tanara are the headline attraction . The balance of the bill is made up of Hardeen , The Handcuff King ; Eva , Taylor , Melville & Higgans , Phina and her Picks , Charles Olcott , Stewart & McNeil , and – the Berg Brothers . On Feb . 17 the Palace will secure first privileges on the new Edison invention , The Kinetophone . This will be its first Chicago appearance .
Here’s a newspaper clipping from the San Diego Coronado January 27, 1917. Hardeen had just finished a week of performing in Los Angeles.
Savoy Theatre. Topping the attractive bill of high class acts will be Hardeen, famous as “The King of Handcuffs.” Hardeen’s work when he appeared at the Savoy more than a year ago is still remembered by all who saw him baffle every attempt to keep him In especially prepared packing boxes., huge milk cans, strait-Jackets and various styles of handcuffs and leg irons. During his present engagement on the Pantages circuit Hardeen is offering; many new feats ” that are said to be even more amazing than those with which he formerly astonished. Special features are to be during the week, in several instances feats never before seen on a San Diego stage being promised by this greatest of all handcuff experts.
This week in History Theo Hardeen brother of Harry Houdini appeared at Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles California. During the week he was challenged by a Shipping Crew to escape from a Box they built on the stage. He also escaped from a Crazy Crib.
In doing this research I discovered (without knowing it wasn’t something every Houdini historian wasn’t already aware of) that the original Pantages building still stands in Los Angeles. John Cox with Wild About Harry was startled when he saw my post of the Google picture of Pantages! It’s always fun when you discover something you didn’t even know you were looking for. To see some original pictures of Pantages and a recent picture go here. Hopefully John will get downtown and take some better pictures.
HARDEEN RETURNS Hardeen is coming back to Pantages. The handcuff expert, whose appearance here a year ago created a furore of comment on his sensational performance, will be the headline attraction on next week’s bill, once again giving the Los Angeles public an opportunity to speculate on his famous milk can trick and packing case mystery. Hardeen issues an open challenge to any police department to shackle him With their strongest irons and to anyone to construct a box ho cannot get out of.
Hardeen’s first show was on Monday January 22, 1917
Hardeen’s 2nd night at Pantages was on Tuesday January 23 1917
Los Angeles Herald Printed this challenge on Tuesday January 23 1917
Hardeen Is Challenged! (Letter) PEASE BROTHERS Los Angeles January) 23d, 1917. Hardeen, Pantages Theater, City. . , , Dear Sir:—During your last visit to Los Angeles, you were successful in escaping from n packing case which was constructed previous to the lest, and while we know that the packing case was wade in a legitimate manner, quite a number of people thought that it was prepared in some way for you to make your escape. Therefore, me hereby challenge you to allow our men to bring the lumber and tools to the Pantages and build a box on the stage in full view of the audience, then re-nail and rope the box under the same conditions as before. You must then make your escape without damaging the box in any manner. If these conditions are agreeable, kindly let me know when you will be prepared to make the test and me will have our men on hand to take their part. Very truly yours, PEASE BROS. FURNITURE COMPANY. Per J. W. Sanger.
He has accepted!
Hardeen the Handcuff King will try to get out of heavy packing case built by our champion shipping crew on the stage
Wednesday Night Pantages Theatre
Will he escape?
Pease Bros.Furniture Co. 640 So Hill St.
Los Angeles Herald Printed this on Wednesday January 24 1917
Having accepted the challenge from Pease Bros, to allow their shipping crew to nail him into a packing case of their own construction, Hardeen, the escape expert, will make the test tonight at Pantages. The crew of furniture packers declare that tho case they will build would bold anyone, Hardeen appears confident that a comparatively short time will see him out of the box. The conditions of the challenge read as follows: “We hereby challenge you to allow our men to bring the lumber and tools to Pantages theater and build n box on tbe stage in full view of the audience, then renail and rope tho box under the same conditions as before. You must make your escape without damaging the box In any manner.” Tonight the Pease Bros, packers will come up on the stage, carrying lumber and tools, and build a box that they claim will surelj’ Imprison Hardeen successfully. They will shackle him, spike the cover onto tho box and bind the box with heavy ropes. Then It Hardeen emerges free, leaving the box undamaged, he will win and the Pease challengers confess themselves beaten.
Hardeen’s 3rd night at Pantages was on Wednesday January 24 1917
On his final night he escaped from a “Crazy Crib”
Hardeen moved on to Pantages in San Diego on Saturday January 27th.
On January 18, 1917 the Los Angeles Herald reported that the “Handcuff King” Hardeen will return to Pantages Theatre. Read the article below.
I have uncovered some other newspaper articles about Hardeen’s week at Pantages in LA that I will be sharing soon.
Hardeen. the handcuff king, who will again be a feature at Pantages next week, issues a challenge to the police department, the shipping departments of any Los Angeles business concern or any person that thinks they can produce manacles or can build a box that will hold him. He will allow himself to be nailed in, handcuffed and manacled, the box locked and tied with ropes, and will release himself in an Incredibly short length of time. The challenge is open to all and acceptances will be received at Pantages theater. Hardeen will be accompanied by a bill of excellent variety, among the acts being John T. Doyle and company, Joe Whitehead, Wood, Melville and Phillips, Howard and Ross and the Asaki Japs.
Today I finish my review of Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine September 1906 Vol 1 No 1.
Page 22 we have “Jottings and Jumblings”. It appears to be a gossip column about magicians, mediums and other entertainers. Houdini talks about attending a Medium Expose’ at the New York Roof Garden on Wednesday, August 1st. Houdini was looking forward to witnessing this expose’ but was disappointed when the lecturer told the audience he was speaking on authority of the very inventor he was exposing.
Page 23 is more gossip about the whereabouts of magicians and talk of their misfortunes. Such as Prof. Andre and his wife are in America, they played a few months in Bermuda or Java, but did not collect much of the coin of the realm. The once famous Steens have separated, and Mr. Steen spent $3000 on Billing his new act in England but only took in £11.IO (about $57.50), but in time it increased to £200 ($1,000) on each show.
Page 24 concludes Jottings and Jumblings. Leon Hermann returned to America with brother and cousin. Houdini writes that the brother looks more like Alexander Herman than Leon. The brother is no “Disciple of Magic”, but the cousin will eventually become “Hermann the fourth”. He writes about a fraud medium and her husband that went by Mr and Mrs Jackson being incarcerated in 1901. Houdini tells that this was none other than the notorious medium named “Anna Odelia Diss De Bar”. She was sentenced to 7 years in prison in 1901 for fraud and what sounds like some other “filthy” crimes. Houdini included this in Conjurers’ because she had been released from the Aylesbury Prison on August 2nd 1906.
Houdini wrote a full chapter about Anna Odelia Diss De Bar in his book “A Magician Among The Spirits”. Below is excerpt from his book printed in The Daily Pantagraph on December 8, 1924.
Pages 25 – 26 we have Handcuff Secrets a monthly installment written by Houdini to expose the methods used by his many imitators.
Houdini states that these so called handcuff kings make fictitious statements and offer large sums of money to anyone who can produce police regulation handcuffs from any part of the universe from which the cannot release themselves. However those that will evade the critical tests by fraud and colossal lying would have something to say about Houdini exposing their methods. He tells the reader that if they were to appear at one of these shows with handcuffs of anything other than the standard regulation type you would be taken to the nearest exit! That confederates would be planted in the audience and supplied with handcuffs and other irons by the performer and his assistants. Houdini writes all of this and states it is fact based on his meeting many of these would be imitators around the world.
Houdini states that to his knowledge no reliable work has been written on this subject, but he has come across some “flimsey leaflets” here and there but attempts at revealing the secrets are so vague, vapid and unfinished that no one could grasp the writers meaning. He goes on to say that this book is purposely written for the benefit professionals, amateur magicians and those desirous in mystifying their friends with escapes and tricks with handcuffs and other:
Houdini explains that he will not delve into the very deep intricacies of some of the more modern feats of handcuffs and jail breaking , but he will explain a way in a simple fashion “how my performances have been imitated” to enable you to give your own handcuff escape performance. He points out that some secrets have already been sold in England. I’m sure he is referring to other Exposes’ such as Pollard’s in the Strand Magazine and many others that Houdini had encountered in his entire career thus far. He signs it “Harry Houdini The Original Handcuff King”.
Page 27 Tricks With Handcuffs. Houdini explains how to escape from regulation handcuffs. His first point is that you do not need “exceptionally rare talent” to become a handcuff king. You must practice using both hands to release the handcuffs “One hand releases or unlocks the other”. He states that he practiced using his left hand until he could use it almost as easily as his right hand. He gives tips on addressing your audience “In addressing your audience do not become bombastic”, and ” it is not the trick that is to be considered, but the style and manner in which it is presented”. He re-iterates that he will not say that these methods are exactly how he performs the handcuff escape act, but they have been used by his imitators.
“I do not deliberately say that the following methods given are precisely the same as 1 have used on opening the handcuffs”
Types of Handcuffs – Houdini talks about the varieties of handcuffs. Only 7 – 8 types used in England, but upwards of 175 types in America not to mention the numerous padlocks that would be added to the list of manacles. “One would need to become an expert of “picklocks” to get along outside the United Kingdom”. For this he suggests we focus only on the British Type handcuffs, and the easiest to escape would be the English Regulation.
Page 28 – Houdini says you must acquire a set of these Handcuffs (Below) and an extra set of Keys. They have Spring Locks and are manipulated by screwing in the Key to open them, but the close by snapping them shut.
The other Handcuff below is a “Plug 8”.
Above two pairs of Darbies from my own collection.
Houdini explains that to perform the Handcuff escape you must adopt a method suitable to you for concealing the Key. He also says that you may need to plant some cuffs with some Confederates in the audience beforehand because your audience may not show up with several pairs. How many people in 1906 had access to handcuffs! As each comes on stage Houdini suggests that you examine each pair to ensure they are regulation pattern. Allow your committee to lock them on you, enter your cabinet obtaining possession of duplicate keys and simply unlock each cuff and hide the keys. The Irish 8 is similar but has no Spring but has a Screw Plug. For this cuff Houdini advises using your mouth to hold the Key.
Page 29 Houdini explains other techniques to hide a Key, the False Finger is one and a key with a hook on the back of it.
“You can allow your wrists to be handcuffed with the cuffs : your sleeves are turned up; your hands are now placed into a small bag and in in full view of the audience you escape from the handcuffs, and bring out the cuffs from the bag opened.”
The “Split Key” which is a modified key used to open English Darbies is shown on Page 29 however Houdini does not explain its use. I believe he mentions this in one of the later Conjurers’ Monthly Magazines.
Pages 30 – 31 list advertisements.
Next up – The review of the October 15, 1906 issue Vol 1, No 2
Reference – The Conjurers’ Monthly Magazine reprinted by Kaufman and Greenberg the limited edition two Volume book set. PDF scanned format from The Conjuring Arts.
Hardeen wasn’t slipping a pair of handcuffs when he broke his wrist. The Player Newspaper reported that Hardeen broke his wrist on December 17, 1912 while cranking his car.
From the Player Newspaper:
Hardeen , the handcuff man , is in New York , laid up for repairs for a few weeks because of an accident which he suffered Dec . 17 . Hardeen was cranking his automobile when it kicked and broke his wrist . The injured member has been placed in a plaster cast , and it is expected will be strong and sound again in a few weeks.