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Have Magicians Helped Or Hindered Paranormal Research? Experts or Hypocrites?

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  • #61
    Originally posted by Open Mind View Post
    That sounds curious ... Is it Day/Levy or his father that supposedly attended these UK schools? Wasn't Harry Day (Edward Lewis Levy) supposed to be American, would he have to become a UK citizen to be member of parliament?
    It was Harry who attended these schools. Like I said, it could be that Harry Day fabricated his whole history - which would be quite an acheivement! - or Levy is a different person.

    Incidentally, Harry Day apparently asked a question on 1st August 1928 in the British Parliament regarding the police raid/arrest of two mediums for fortune telling (according to magician Harry Price article) ..... I was curious to check the wording of his question but unfortunately the months of August, September & October 1928 are missing from Harry Day's questions.
    Mr Harry Day: speeches in 1928 (Hansard)

    I was just curious to see Price's presentation matched Day's wording ....both almost certainly knew each other, both magicians, both were close friends of Houdini (who had died 2 years earlier)
    Parliament would've broken up for the summer in August. The local library has books regarding the proceedings of parliament, so I'll take a look in a bit.


    • #62
      Originally posted by Ersby View Post
      It was Harry who attended these schools. Like I said, it could be that Harry Day fabricated his whole history - which would be quite an acheivement! - or Levy is a different person.
      Just to make sure you know (almost certainly you do) that if they are 2 different people .... what was this newspaper article all about?



      • #63
        Originally posted by Open Mind View Post
        Just to make sure you know (almost certainly you do) that if they are 2 different people .... what was this newspaper article all about?


        Do you have any of the text for that article?


        • #64
          That's not terribly helpful, OM. If you want to help, there's a newspaper article that comes up if you google "edward lewis levy harry day" on the times website, but it's blocked at my work. Could you take a look and paste it here?

          No sign of any questions in parliament, though.


          • #65
            This one?

            A man who was bound to please - Times Online

            THE SECRET LIFE OF HOUDINI: The Making of America’s First Superhero
            by William Kalush and Larry Sloman

            Simon & Schuster £18.99 pp592

            The American escapologist Harry Houdini may not have spawned a premiership eponym such as Boycott or Hoover. But, as confirmed in Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang by Jonathon Green, “pulling” or “doing a Houdini” is acceptable lower-division parlance for getting out of a tight fix. (According to this invaluable reference work, the name also doubles for marijuana, as in an aid to escaping reality.) The reason for Houdini’s linguistic longevity is that he was a worldwide phenomenon — a brilliant magician and publicist who focused on daring feats of escape at a time (around 1900) when the public had dollars and half crowns to spend and were looking for thrills during an entertainment lull between the music hall and the movies.

            Born Ehrich Weisz, the son of a rabbi, in Budapest in March 1874, and brought up, from the age of four, in Appleton, Wisconsin, Houdini fulfilled their fantasies, as he perfected an ever more exciting range of releases from chains, boxes, straitjackets, then a combination of the above, dangling from a bridge or submerged in a lake, and finally the Chinese water torture cell, where he was suspended upside down in a steel and glass cabinet full of water.

            His formative years were spent on the road. But details of performances in Omaha, Nebraska, tend to read much the same as those in St Paul, Minnesota. Certainly, Houdini’s self-promotional routine becomes familiar as, in each city he visits, he challenges the police chief to truss him up, preferably in the local jail. Everyone feigns surprise when he casts off his shackles. Since the press has been invited, the column inches accumulate, as does the little wizard’s bank balance. By 1904, at the end of a successful European tour, he was able to shell out $2,500, or the equivalent of $2.5m today, to buy a townhouse on New York’s Upper West Side, a farm in Connecticut, and a plot in Brooklyn, where he had most of his family reburied.

            This book is enlivened by two promising sub-themes. One, the contention that Houdini worked as a spy, does not work. The authors get excited that he met Superintendent William Melville, who ran Scotland Yard’s Special Branch and later became the first head of MI5. No doubt Houdini’s ability to break locks and enter secret places was of interest to intelligence services. But there is no evidence that, with Melville, he was doing much more than his usual business of visiting a senior policeman and hoping to milk the encounter for publicity. His other supposed links to espionage are tangential at best. The burden of proof needs to be higher for someone who admitted on his deathbed that he was “in almost every respect . . . a fake”.

            The second, more successful theme is the account of Houdini’s encounter with spiritualism, and in particular with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes and an ardent “spookist”. Houdini never claimed that his tricks were based on more than the combination of his ingenuity and his athleticism. But others, including Conan Doyle, thought they recognised supernatural influences, particularly as the handcuff king’s exploits became more extraordinary.

            For a short while, after the first world war, when spiritualism was in vogue, Houdini played along with these suggestions — or at least feigned an interest in the paranormal. But when Scientific American staged a trial, involving “Margery”, a Boston medium touted by Conan Doyle, Houdini could no longer contain his scepticism. Drawing on his full knowledge of magic and leger- demain, he denounced her trickery, with fateful consequences for his relationship with the English author. Soon afterwards, he unexpectedly died from a burst appendix after being punched in the stomach, which the authors ascribe to renegade spiritualists convinced they were carrying out the wishes of their movement’s royalty such as Conan Doyle.

            Among a cast of exotic characters, I would like to have known more about Harry Day, Houdini’s British manager, described as “a mysterious expatriate American who changed his name” before becoming an MP and doing “overseas espionage for the British government”. The index (not the text) indicates his real name was Edward Lewis Levy, but otherwise little is written about him, except that he seems to have played a part in a plot to discredit Margery and Conan Doyle.

            It is no use turning to notes for enlightenment, because they do not exist. For this resource, the reader is directed to a website. However, they cover only 10 out of 26 chapters and the reference to Levy/Day is marked “details to follow”. Rudimentary research in the digital archive of The Times unveils a litigious impresario turned MP who titled himself colonel (although his obituary gives no indication how he earned this rank). His first appearance in print was a divorce case where he was alleged to have beaten up his wife. This suggests the competitive, duplicitous and often violent subculture in which Houdini operated.
            But this background is downplayed, apart from glimpses of his brothers assaulting entertainers who stole his show or who used similar names such as Boudini.

            William Kalush and Larry Sloman know their magic, however, and provide useful insights into Houdini’s techniques (for example, he used to pack escape paraphernalia in an extra sixth finger). As a catalogue, their book is efficient; as a biography it is let down by made-up dialogue and a staccato style that veers between clanking and portentous. Thus the newspaper proprietor is not just Alfred Harmsworth; he has to be Alfred William Charles Harmsworth. An indication of where it is coming from is the note from one author that, as well as music by Bob Dylan, Nick Cave and Antony and the Johnsons, he was encouraged by Leonard Cohen who counselled, “Don’t talk bad about Houdini — he loved his mother.”

            Splash hit

            One of Houdini’s most daring stunts was the Water Torture Cell which he premiered in Southampton in 1911. The trick, which involved a bound Houdini escaping from a tiny water-filled glass box, later became famous but, because of high ticket prices and lack of advertising, only one person supposedly saw this first public airing of the feat.

            Read on...

            And Now... Houdini ! Houdini Biography and Information |- MagicTricks.Com: Magic, Magicians and Magic History
            Biography, trivia, photographs, plus magic tricks for all levels

            I've made the section bold print.

            Not much help
            Last edited by Open Mind; September 23rd, 2009, 06:39 PM.


            • #66
              Thanks for that. I was thinking about paying £5 for a day's access to the Times' archive, and I may do so, now. It'll have to wait for a day when I don't have much on my plate at work, though.

              About his title of "colonel", my guess is that it is an affectation: you must've noticed that Hansard lists him as "Mr Harry Day", and Who's Who doesn't mention any army service.

              An interesting man.


              • #67
                Originally posted by Ersby View Post
                No sign of any questions in parliament, though.
                So what are the possiblities?

                - The information is just missing from the parliament records?
                - Magician/researcher/debunker Harry Price quoted the wrong date?
                - Magician/politician/millionaire Harry Day lied to Harry Price?
                - Harry Price made it up?

                Why would a wealthy owner of theatres become a politician? Was Harry Day really rich or did he make it up?


                • #68
                  Originally posted by Ersby View Post
                  Thanks for that. I was thinking about paying £5 for a day's access to the Times' archive
                  Ersby have i quoted the wrong article ... I paid nothing ... let me look again...


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by Open Mind View Post
                    Ersby have i quoted the wrong article ... I paid nothing ... let me look again...
                    I was referring to the article you pasted that mentioned some stories about our Harry Day in the Times - but a subscription is needed.

                    I doubt that the records of parliament are incomplete, especially since the Home Secretary doesn't seem to have made any appearance in parliament since mid-July that year. Either Day or Price could've fabricated it.


                    • #70
                      To recap .... magician/psychical reasearcher Harry Price claims in his 1939 book ...

                      [i]'...This case (40) is of great importance and has become historical. It was the first time that the police had invaded a recognized spiritualist society, and it was also the last. The prosecution was so unusual that on August 1, 1928 , Mr. Harry Day, M.P., in Parliament, asked the Home Secretary whether his attention had been drawn to it, and whether he would consider the appointment of a committee for the purpose of investigating the claims of spiritualism, apart from those of fortune-telling, with the object of legalizing investigation in psychical research and allied subjects. Sir William Joynson-Hicks, the Home Secretary, replied that he had noticed the case, but did not propose to inquire into the matter. He added, in reply to a further question, that he did not consider the Cantlon case would hinder the class of investigation referred to.

                      (40) For a very fair account of the proceedings, see Light, June 30 to August 18, 1928, inclusive.
                      From searching Hansard records ...

                      - There is no such event reported in parliament on the '1st of August 1928'
                      - Nor is there a record of 'Harry Day' asking such a question
                      - Nor is there a record of home 'William Joynson Hicks' replying to such a question
                      - Nor is there a record of any reference 'Cantlon' case in the 1920s or 1930s (or any other year) discussed in parliament

                      It would be curious to see the issue of 'Light, June 30 to August 18, 1928' ... is it there? Who wrote it? Anyone know about this magazine?

                      Perhaps it was a private conversation between Harry Day and Home Secretary? Or was Harry Day faking to others he wanted legalization of psychical research? (Until the 1940s there was a 1735? witchcraft act that scaremongered public investigation and research)
                      Last edited by Open Mind; September 24th, 2009, 07:56 PM.


                      • #71
                        The Strange Sounding Suicide Of Dundas Slater?

                        Hmm ... Dundas Slater was a threatre manager who made Houdini famous in the UK. In 1912 he shot himself in a taxi with a revolver.
                        DUNDAS SLATER A SUICIDE.; Well-Known London Vaudeville Manager Shoots ... - Article Preview - The New York Times.

                        Another source said he had a suicide note in his pocket (depression over leaving job at theatre). When Harry Houdini first arrived in the UK, it was Dundas Slater who took him to meet William Melville – head of the MI5 secret services . After Houdini demonstrated his handcuff act, theatre manager Dundas helped Houdini's career take off in the UK.

                        There is photograph with Dundas Slater, Harry Houdini's brother (Hardeen) and Harry Day ... I'd put it up but for copyright reasons.... it can be seen on page 244 of the Secret Life of Houdini. The book doesn't mention Dundas Slater's suicide.

                        Also found ....
                        '....According to Beatrice Houdini, after some days of unsuccessful interviews, C. Dundas Slater, the manager of the Alhambra, gave him an audition on the June 13th. Apparently not wholly convinced of the young man's abilities, he offered him a contract on the condition that he must first, 'Escape from handcuffs at Scotland Yard'. Slater was apparently acquainted with Melville and arranged for himself and Houdini to visit the Yard the following day...'. - Historian Andrew Cook
                        Instead of magic historians (e.g. Kalush / Sloman) persistently trying to imply all psychic mediums are frauds (many were magicians pretending to be psychics) ...... I think they should consider the possibility the secret services might be involved in Harry Houdini's death, rather than spiritualists (if foul play did occur at all). A film of their controversial book is being made.

                        Also in the old photograph is ...... (next post)
                        Last edited by Open Mind; September 25th, 2009, 10:18 AM.


                        • #72
                          The photograph caption in book says Houdini's 'brain trust' – certainly Houdini knew them well – The photograph contains ...

                          Magician Theodore Hardeen
                          Brother of Harry Houdini. Reportedly after Houdini's death Hardeen burnt Harry Houdini's files in basement. According to Houdini's lawyer Ernst (also a magician) the basement files had information on psychics and psychical researchers**

                          Magician Joe Hyman, one of Houdini's first magic partners. He said Hardeen nearly burnt the house down burning Houdini's files in Houdini's basement **

                          Colonel Harry Day (reportedly real name Edward Lewis Levy - but is hard to trace back) magician, threatre owner, later UK member of parliament

                          Alfred Hamswort (Lord Northcliffe) ...also in photograph later owned / founded UK newspapers such as Evening News, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Sunday Observer, The Times newspapers... + around 30 publications companies

                          Dundas Slater (see previous post)

                          ** Harry Houdini's lawyer - Bernard Ernst (later president of Society of American Magicians) claimed Houdini's basement contained files on those investigating psychic phenomena .... '.."filed away, details and information, which he had unearthed, regarding the personal life-histories of practically everyone connected with the subjects—and this, not only regarding mediums but investigators and others as well ...' Why destroy these? Did Houdini's own team of investigators really gather this (as magician historians claim) or did intelligence organizations give Houdini the information?

                          In 1926, at the White House office building in Washington, Harry Houdini was asked his about his secret investigators ....

                          Representative Hammer 'Is W J Burns a member of your association?
                          Harry Houdini ' He may ...[Houdini is interrupted by Sawyer] .
                          Julia Sawyer 'No'
                          Harry Houdini 'She knows every member of the organization'

                          What was Houdini about to say? If he said yes, Burns played leading role in US sercret services, the forerunners of what later became the CIA and FBI.

                          Have intelligence organizations being creating disinformation in paranomral research?
                          Last edited by Open Mind; September 25th, 2009, 12:58 PM.


                          • #73
                            Magician Julius Zancig and his wife

                            Here is Houdini lying in 1923 ....

                            '...Mr. Jules Zancig is a magician, a member of the Society of American Magicians of which I have been the President for the past seven years. I believe he is one of the greatest second-sight artists that magical history records....... He never at any time claimed telepathy and as he has not, to my knowledge, obtained money by pretending telepathy ... - Harry Houdini
                            Can Houdini not remember having the Zancigs doing their telepathy act on his own theatre show around 1907?

                            It seems Houdini only attacked psychic mediums claims, not if fellow magicians faking psychic claims. The Zancigs became famous due to Harry Houdini's friend Lord Northcliffe who owned the Daily Mail (and many other publications) the paper promoted their pseudo-telepathy stage act.

                            The Zancigs wrote books on the occult and in their 1924 book it is clear they were indeed making claims to be psychic

                            ...'two minds attuned in such perfect harmony as those of my wife and myself, we should experience many amazing and almost uncanny examples of thought transference.....she always won for the simple reason that when I looked at the cards she knew precisely what I had got..... after a long bluff...... She promptly threw down her cards, remarking, "You've got me beaten this time--three aces." I displayed my hand, a pair of deuces and an odd card, and she gasped, I had actually visualized three aces, and my wife had received the faked impression, and acted upon it.

                            Jules Zancig – 1924 book section 'Baffling the Scientists'
                            Baffling the Scientists
                            (According to wikipedia the secret Zanzic code was exposed by magician Alexander the Crystal Seer , 'biographer, Darryl Beckmann, wrote that Alexander was "married eleven times" and was a "con-man" as well as a stage performer...' )

                            However back to Zancig.....

                            Bizarre incident in 1913
                            In 1913, american millionaire Joseph Wilberforce Martin went missing in London, body never found (?).

                            '...A remarkable story is told by Zancig, a vaudeville clairvoyant, in connection with Martin's disappearance. Zancig was interested in the case and expressed his belief that he could find Martin if allowed to put his fingers on Martin's opera hat, but the Scotland Yard detectives refused to give him permission. Zancig now says on Wednesday night two men warned him to keep his nose out of the Martin affair.

                            Tonight after leaving the theatre he says, he was decoyed by a woman up a back street in Westminster on the pretense of being taken to Martin. Suddenly two men appeared and assaulted him, leaving him unconscious...'

                            READY TO DROP MARTIN CASE.; Scotland Yard Only Waiting for Certain Fin... - Article Preview - The New York Times

                            CHARGES OF FORGERY IN MARTIN AFFAIRS; New York Bank Sues Missing Memphis Broker and Attaches His Estate
                            What was Zancig up to? Did Zancig believe he was also psychic as well as stage act mentalist? Or was he yet another magician working for an intelligence organization? Or will some magicians make up any information for publicity?
                            Last edited by Open Mind; September 26th, 2009, 07:07 AM.


                            • #74
                              The trail's gone a bit cold on our Harry Day. There's no record of his birth in the records for 1880 (although there is a Harry Day born in Gravesend in 1882), nor any mention of his marriage in 1901.


                              • #75
                                Originally posted by Ersby View Post
                                The trail's gone a bit cold on our Harry Day. There's no record of his birth in the records for 1880 (although there is a Harry Day born in Gravesend in 1882), nor any mention of his marriage in 1901.
                                According to the Kalush/Sloman book he changed his name to Harry Day around the same period of time as Houdini met Melville .... if true that would be around June 1900. Is this information incorrect?

                                Anyway ... thanks for looking Ersby