Monday, July 27, 2020

Harry Houdini's Hat

Harry Houdini started his career touring with carnivals and circuses. At Coney Island in 1893, he met a fellow performer, Wilhelmina Beatrice "Bess" Rahner. When they married in 1894, she joined his  act, which became known as "The Houdinis". For the rest of Houdini's performing career, Bess worked as his stage assistant.

They were famously devoted, but I am sure I have read or heard somewhere that on the odd, inevitable occasion when they did have a row, he would would be ejected from their caravan and start walking around the fairground. After each lap he would throw his hat in through the window. If Bess threw it back out, he was still in trouble so he would set off again. If she didn't he was forgiven and allowed back in again.

I think this was wonderfully psychologically astute; as tempers cooled the flying hat would gradually become funny, charming and whimsical.

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