Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Houdini vs Dunninger Water Torture Cells


I will begin by saying, I have no idea what is going on here. The top image is from the book, Houdini His Legend and Magic by Doug Henning and Charles Reynolds. I assume this image first appeared in a magazine article during Houdini's time. If you flip it upside down, clearly the face looks like that of Houdini. 

So explain to me the image below. This is the exact same image except it has been doctored. A drawing has been placed over Houdini's name. The name DUNNINGER has been added. If you flip it over, the previous face of Houdini has been altered very slightly, but more hair has been put on to look more like Joe Dunninger. 

At first glance, I wonder if this is just a bit of youthful fun. Not something meant to be seen by the public, but just something Joe did on his own. Yet, it did appear in a Dunninger book. And I don't think it's something the original artist did, though I suppose that is possible. 

My next question is, did Dunninger have a Water Torture Cell? I know he did handcuff escapes, strait jacket escapes, jail escapes and more. But did he have a WTC? Houdini went after folks who tried to duplicate this. There were others who had Milk Cans, but that trick had seen it's day. The Water Torture Cell was really Houdini's big sensational escape. I'm very curious.

I know there are at least a dozen, and probably MORE Dunninger Scrapbooks out in the magic collecting world. I've seen them on the various auctions. IF you have one, can you help me shed some light on this curious question? Did Dunninger own a Water Torture Cell? 

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