Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The Great Houdini Broadcasts -Behind the Curtain of Episode 97


The Great Houdini Broadcasts was written by Val Andrews, and published by Micky Hades International back in 1981. It is a booklet made up of two Scripts. One takes place in 1926 immediately following the death of Houdini. The other script takes place 50 years later in 1976. I have to be honest, I have no idea why Val Andrews wrote this or what his intended purpose was. Perhaps he was writing a big of fiction, a short story, but why did he write it in script form?

Well, I can tell you it was the PERFECT thing for someone like me. I read it and thought it should be made into an old style radio show, EXACTLY how it was written. Perhaps that was Val's intention, I do not know. It also had a copyright. A standard copyright that is found in most books. I honestly was not sure if this prevented me from using the script or not. But I took the high road and contacted Micky Hades and was able to get a non commercial license through his son Brian.

If you listened to podcast episode 97, you'll hear my rendition. Seven very different voices: Radio Announcer, Lawyer Kelson (fictional), Conan Doyle, Hardeen, Horace Goldin, Harry Jansen, and Jay Palmer. Only the lawyer was a fictional character. I almost used Bernard Ernst instead, who was Houdini's real lawyer, but in the last minute I held back. ALL the dialog is fictional, though, it's about 98% historically accurate. And it's because of the truth of the history that I wanted to recreate this. 

If you listen close, Conan Doyle's voice is a combination of James Mason and John Houseman. Hardee's voice is a form of Luka Bratzy from the Godfather movie, but is close to how he really sounded. I wanted to replace Jay Palmer with Dai Vernon. I had this great segment that I wrote AS Vernon, but then I realized that my announcer voice was similar to my Vernon. My Dai Vernon is identical to Johnny Thompson's.  So I couldn't use Vernon. And then I discovered that Jay Palmer was a real magician who actually DID work for Houdini. And on top of it he was born in Nashville TN, so I gave him a Southern accent. It worked fine. 

There are no special effects, other than the static radio sound that plays during the entire story. I would like to have included some 1920s music, but I wasn't finding the stuff I wanted. As it was, one track did make it on the episode, but it's very faint and very short. I meant to pull it and forgot, lol. I hope if you haven't already done so, you'll go listen to the episode. 

My previous 'old style radio drama' was episode 72 of my podcast. That one was called "The Devil and Harry Kellar" and I wrote the entire thing, and did all the voices. That one has a totally different feel to it as it's more dramatic and theatrical. It includes sound effects as well. That story is totally fictional, however if you know anything about Harry Kellar, you'll recognize that the story is filled with TRUE events from his life. The story idea came to me from looking through his posters and it dawned on me, there was a whole story there to be told. 

I have been encouraged to do more of these. But as you might imagine, it isn't like there is a huge amount of these scripts laying around. In other words, I have to write them!!! I already have one written, and there is part of another that I started to write years ago. I suppose I could use those....in the future. For now, the podcast returns to straight magic history!

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