December 1915 Houdini at the Orpheum and Hardeen at Pantages in Los Angeles. The brothers portrayed themselves as rivals for publicity but in this case the jig is up! In the article below the writer reveals that they are actually brothers working together.
In the advertisements below Pantages plays up Hardeen’s challenge escapes listing that a Brewery will lock him in a “Cask” of Beer, and “Chief Snively’s Punishment Suit challenge”. “Snively!” This has Dash’s sense of humor written all over it! Other escapes are mentioned “The Milk Can” and the “Oregon Boot”. The Orpheum lists Houdini as “The Genius of escape”.
Houdini and Hardeen, the escape wizards playing in Los Angeles this week, are brothers. Both look alike and are said to share the other’s trick secrets.
In November 1915 Houdini was on the Orpheum circuit performing the Water Torture Cell or the “Upside Down” as he called it. By day he created publicity by performing his famous Straitjacket escape while suspended from a high building above a swarming crowd of onlookers below on the street. Hardeen was touring for Pantages. The brothers played as rival acts. Hardeen was performing his brothers old Handcuff Escape routine but was still drawing crowds. Below is an article from November 18, 1915 that mentions both Houdini and Hardeen playing in Palo Alto California. It says Hardeen performed an 8 act show. What I would do to have a time machine to travel back to that week to see both of the brothers Houdini perform!
At the Theaters
"A Pair of Sixes" by Edward Peple
is the farce offering for this week only
at the Cort. Oscar Figman plays the
A dramatic sensation, "On Trial," is
remaining at the Columbia for a third
week. A great revolving stage gives
the facilities needed for a realistic
portrayal of this play.
With Evelyn Vaughan back in the
cast of players, "Kick In," Willard
Mack's New York comedy success, is
well received at the Alcazar.
Herbert Bashford, a San Francisco
writer, is the author of "The Woman
He Married," which is being inter
preted at the Wigwam theater this
week, by the Lawrence-Oakley stock
Houdini, "the genius of escape,"
headlines the Orpheum vaudeville
menu for the second week. Idealistic
comedy, musical novelty and farce
acts, compose the remainder of the
Robert Mantell, greatest of Ameri
can tragedians, makes his debut as a
film star in the screen drama, "Rlind
ness of Devotion," at the Empress this
week. A number of vaudeville acts
of merit are also shown.
"King of the Handcuffs," is the title
claimed by Hardeen, who heads an
eight-act show at Pantages.
Hippodrome vaudeville features the
Seven Manjeans, accomplished acro
bats. A five-reel movie feature com
pletes the program.
Motion picture specialties provide
entertainment at the Imperial, Savoy,
Portola, and Tivoli theaters.
Hardeen Chronology – In 1907 Hardeen returned from Europe to tour America under an engagement with Klaw and Erlanger as the featured act. He appeared at the Mary Anderson Theatre the week of September 16th 1907. The Theatre was under the management of Max Fabish. On September 26th Hardeen did his first bridge jump into the Ohio River from the 18th Street Bridge. Hardeen was then re-engaged for another week.
Mary Anderson (Max Fabish manager). Packed houses greeted a fine vaudeville bill week of 16. Hardeen ,. jail breaker and handcuff expert; was the headliner and made a big impression. New people for week 23: Hardeen (re-engaged).
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.