Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Another year is almost over. It sure does go by fast. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a happy & healthy New Year!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lost Mme. Herrmann Poster

It's hard to believe next week is Thanksgiving and Christmas is right around the corner. I have been busy these past few months. I opened my own marketing & design business - Romano Marketing & Design (RMD) and things have been hectic. I can help you or your business with all your marketing, design, video, photography, web, promotional and print needs. RMD specializes in developing creative and innovative solutions for small to mid-size businesses. 

Well, enough about me. I came across this image of a Mme. Herrmann poster I have never seen before. One can only imagine what it looks like in color - stunning.

Have a happy Thanksgiving! Until next time...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Houdini - California Dreaming

Houdini wrote a lengthy article about his escapades in the Sept. 29, 1907 edition of the Los Angeles Herald. In the last three paragraphs of the piece Harry writes that shouldn't be taken seriously. I found that to be out of character for the great escape artist. He also speaks of retiring (?) in a few years and settling down among the orange groves of California. Perhaps the fragrant scent of citrus put Harry in a thoughtful mood.

Until next time...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

More Houdini

A few weeks ago I visited Historic Auto Attractions in northern (Roscoe) Illinois. The museum is not only home to famous cars, but also a wide array of movie memorabilia. Some of those pieces include Marilyn Monroe’s nightgown, a sweater worn by Hollywood legend James Dean, and an outfit worn by Elvis Presley. In addition a large section of the museum is dedicated to John F. Kennedy, along with the “Day in Dallas” display.

The museum is very nice and we really enjoyed ourselves. I was happy to see a small exhibit on Houdini. It looks like most of the items on display came from the Sid Radner auction. 

I thought this portrait of Houdini was well done and had never seen it before.

Since I'm on the subject of Houdini, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I finally saw William Pack's program The Essential Houdini. I have known and respected Bill for several years and he did a wonderful program that was well-received by his audience. I especially enjoyed his performance of Houdini's "Needles." 

William Pack performing one of Houdini's greatest effects.

Until next time...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Houdini's Grim Game - A Review from the Past

John Cox writes a very informative and well-done blog called WILD ABOUT HARRY. I check his blog often because there is always of something of interest there. The other day he had an entry on Houdini's Grim Game movie. Coincidentally, I came across an enthusiastic review of this movie from the August 27, 1919 edition of the New York Tribune.

I can't recall reading such a detailed account of the movie's plot and thought some of you my find it intriguing.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Houdini's Vansihing Elephant CYLINDER

I love magic history. You can get lost in research and find little nuggets of information. Recently I found this intriguing article on Houdini and his vanishing elephant. It was from the New York Tribune, January 6, 1918. The reporter wrote something that caught my eye. He wrote "Houdini has constructed a gigantic cylinder shaped container of such dimensions that the largest elephant obtainable can enter with ease. It walks through this tube and vanishes." A tube? I always thought the elephant went into a large BOX.

Here is the text of the article in its entirety.

Houdini Has New Elephant Trick

To-morrow at the Hippodrome one may see a full sized, real, live elephant disappear in full view of the audience on a brilliantly lighted stage, before one's very eyes. This vanishing elephant illusion is an experiment conceived and perfected by Houdini, world renowned expert in extracation, whom Charles Dillingham has selected as a feature extraordinary of "Cheer Up! The engagement of Houdini is keeping with Mr. Dillingham's policy of introducing important new features in his big Hippodrome spectacles after the holidays.

The disappearing elephant feat is is one which Houdini began experimenting upon during his visit to India four years ago, for it has long been the dream of the Indian fakirs to realize the reputation given to Chaucer hundreds of years ago, when he wrote that he had seen "an elephant crumble to the earth in piecemeal and then reassemble itself and walk away." Houdini's illusion, which can no doubt be classified as the "biggest" ever attempted on any stage, while it does not crumble the huge beast weighing over 6,000 pounds, it does actually vanish the elephant on the stage in full glare of the light, without the use of traps, as the tank of water under the Hippodrome apron prevents any such camouflage. Houdini has constructed a gigantic cylinder shaped container of such dimensions that the largest elephant obtainable can enter with ease. It walks through this tube and vanishes.

A second new experiment which Mr. Dillingham will introduce next Monday will be in the final scene of "Cheer Up!" in the aquatic spectacle where Houdini will present his Submersible Mystery. In this daring exhibition he is manacled and leg-tied and imprisoned in a heavily weighted iron bound box, which is lowered into the tank of water. While submerged Houdini accomplishes his escape and comes to the surface unfettered. Now, to prove that he is actually inside the box when it is thrown overboard and that he really takes a risk and dares death in the problem of escaping he will invite members of the audience to nail up the box at every performance. He has further obligated himself to the management to forfeit the sum of $1,000 to anyone who can prove he is assisted to escape or that it is possible to breathe, or that he obtains air when he is once submerged. The submerged box being filled with holes, is completely filled with water, the audience seeing it all the time, no curtain to obscure the sinking or hide it from view.

Where did this reporter get this information? He said "tomorrow," so this was written before he saw Houdini perform. Is this how Houdini described the trick to him? We will never know. All I know is that "Cheer Up!" must have been an unforgettable show - the vanishing elephant and the Submersible Mystery.

I imagined what Houdini's elephant "cylinder" might look like stage might look and created this photo.

I would love to hear from any of you that have heard this story of the elephant vanishing in a gigantic cylinder. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Malini the Magician, the San Fran Police and Lemons

I came across this great Malini article and illustration in the May 18, 1912 issue of  the San Francisco Call, Volume 111, Number 170. The stories about Malini are legendary and this story illustrates why that is. I heard a similar story about Alexander Hermann making coins appear in eggs. It doesn't really matter where the money appears - the public resist the lure of lucre in groceries.

Detectives Start on New Chase! Seek for Money Inside Lemons
New Methods of Amassing Wealth Shown Before the Police Commissioners

San Francisco's detective force has been taught two new and easy ways of getting money, one by taking it out of other people's hands, and the other by buying lemons for five cents at a fruit stand and then extracting the $10 bills growing inside the fruit.

These new methods of high finance were demonstrated before the detectives, the board of police commissioners, Judge Shortall, Chief of Police White and others by Malini, the magician, yesterday afternoon in the hall of Justice.

Malini proved that it was all very simple, showing Detectives Pat Cronan and Fred Biermann that a plain clothes man could gather up plenty of easy money without disturbance or discovery. For example, he rolled up a $10 bill and placed it in Cronan's hand.

Cronan closed his hand on the money firmly, to show that it couldn't he taken away. "That's a cinch," said Malini, and Cronan unclasped his hands to find a crumpled piece of newspaper instead of the bill. "All you have to do is to buy a lemon for a nickle, and here you are." continued the Instructor in applied finance, pulling a lemon out of Cronan's pocket, cutting it open, and showing the bill which Cronan had previously closed his hand on.

The rest of the demonstration was shown to an empty house. The detectives had all left in a hurry and were out at the fruit stands in Kearny street buying lemons.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Houdini - An Artist's Interpretation

Houdini has been popping up on my radar lately. I came across this interesting sketch of the great escape artist on Ebay today. It was drawn by Richard Bryant Ogle and dated 5-20-1920. The artist also did some other Houdini artwork for the Grim Game movie (1919) (

I thought this drawing was unique because the artist shows Houdini in what looks like a kimono. In my opinion, Ogle has given the middle-aged magician a youthful, almost feminine looking face . This is in stark contrast to most of Houdini's photos of the time. Here he seems relaxed and in a a pensive mood.

I am curious how much this will sell for. We shall see...

The auction is

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Houdini's Bubble Gum Dilemma

I don't blog as much as should, but here's one you may enjoy. I am always finding little bits of magic history and I thought you might like this one.

This funny story first appeared in the Muncie Post-Democrat 1922-07-07 (Vol. 02, No. 26). Houdini, Conan Doyle and bubble gum - what a great story!

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there and until next time...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Is Magic an Art?

I came across this very thoughtful video asking if magic is art. I think magic can be artful and it is definitely an artform. I wrote in my book The Art of Deception that true artists strive to evoke an emotion of wonder that lingers in the hearts and minds of their audiences.

The Sistine Chapel's ceiling is a work of art that is never forgotten once it is seen. That can hold true for a magician's performance that lives in the mind of a spectator until the day they die. I'm not saying a magic trick is on the same level of effort and skill as Michelangelo's work, but both products are capable of touching a spectator in a meaningful and special way.

Watch this video and come to your own conclusion.
Is Magic an Art Video

The Magician by Hieronymus Bosch