The Return of Houdini

Answer, Tell, Pray

Harry Houdini made a promise.

If it were possible, he’d told his wife — if it could be done — he would find a way back.

The magician who had spent his life breaking out of chains and water tanks, who had focused much of his later career on debunking psychics and mediums, would attempt to escape that most guarded of cages: death itself.

So, for ten years after his passing, Harry Houdini’s wife Bess tried to contact her husband. Ten years of scéances held on the anniversary of his death, every October 31.

Every Halloween.

Rosabelle, Answer

Rosabelle- answer- tell- pray, answer- look- tell- answer, answer- tell.

The above was a message Houdini promised to communicate to his wife were he successful, a message only she would know.

It was partly a secret code, a means to “pass information between a magician and his assistant during a mentalism act.” Rosabelle, however, was the title of a song Bess Houdini had performed on stage when the two first met.

Together, the entire message was “Rosabelle, Believe.”

The Halloween Scéances

Unfortunately, after a decade of scéances, she never heard the phrase uttered. She never made contact with the other side.

In 1936, after her final scéance on the roof of the Knickerbock Hotel in Hollywood, California, Bess Houdini abandoned her quest and proclaimed, one final time, “Good night, Harry!”

But that hasn’t stopped others from trying.

Today marks the 85th anniversary of Houdini’s death, and 75 years since that final scéance. Even tonight, people around the world will gather to hold scéances, hoping to finally contact the spirit of the prolific magician.

None have succeeded thus far, unfortunately, as it would seem the master escapologist has found a lock he cannot open.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.

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