|(click on picture to see larger version)|
Above is a theatrical page from 1907 edition of the Boston Journal. There are a number of interesting things to point out on this page full of ads. First, you'll notice that the Houdini ad is at the top of the page on the left. It's the first spot you'd see if you are reading left to right. His name is the largest in the ad and in fact, half the ad is devoted to his act, "HOUDINI - NOBODY CAN HOLD HIM" slightly below that it reads "ANYBODY CAN CHALLENGE HIM".
Look at the ad to the immediate right, for the National Theatre, and then go to the bottom of the ad and you'll see 'BOUDINI-NOBODY CAN HOLD HIM', followed by 'ALL CHALLENGES ACCEPTED'. Houdini's imitators were right on his heels, even in the paper, but they never got the notoriety that he did! Over at the WildAboutHarry blog, you can find an article describing a challenge that took place between Houdini and Boudini in 1905. The outcome didn't seem to stop Boudini from performing because here he is two years later performing in the same town at the same time as Houdini.
|The Three Keatons|
One other interesting fact about Houdini and the Keatons. According to a number of sources, Houdini and Joe Keaton (father) owned The Mohwak Indian Medicine Company, a traveling medicine show in 1895. This seems to be well documented in the Buster Keaton biographies, but I've never seen it mentioned in the Houdini biographies, though they do mention the story of Houdini giving the boy the nickname. Their traveling medicine show must not have lasted very long. In the Life and Many Deaths of Harry Houdini by Ruth Brandon, she mentions that in 1897, the Keatons and Houdinis worked together in Dr. Hill's California Concert Company, which was also a traveling medicine show. In HOUDINI!!! by Kenneth Silverman, he mentions that it was the California Concert Company where Houdini began to present a Spiritualistic Seance Act. The act ended in 1898 when the company disbanded, and not a second too soon for Houdini who did not like deceiving people with seances.
This ad appears in the same year that Thurston met with Harry Kellar about becoming his successor and buying his show. No mention of Kellar in the ad, so this might have been just prior to that agreement. Kellar and Thurston toured together in the 1907-1908 season.
A lot of magic history on one newspaper theatre page!