Houdini Meets Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner
When Houdini met Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner in 1894, she was performing as one of the Floral Sisters at the Sea Beach Palace in West Brighton Beach, New York.
Married soon after they met, the partnership lasted until Houdini's death on October 31, 1926. Before his marriage Houdini performed in dime museums, the entry level of Vaudeville that was home to curiosity shows and unknown acts. In 1893, for example, he provided entertainment at Huber's 14th Street Museum in Manhattan. It was not until 1899, that impresario Martin Beck employed Houdini to work for the Orpheum Circuit, suggesting that the magician shed traditional conjuring in favor of what Houdini would later call "escapology."
There are many stories of how Bess and Houdini met. One version is that in 1893, while performing with his brother "Dash" at Coney Island as "The Brothers Houdini," Harry met and married fellow performer Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner. She was performing as the "Floral Sisters." Bess replaced Dash in the act, which became known as "The Houdinis". Bess's version of the story is that Houdini performed at her high school in 1894, and during the performance, mistakenly splashed acid on Bess's dress. Embarrassed and apologetic, Houdini had his mother sew a new dress for Bess. Thrilled and charmed by Houdini's thoughtfulness, Bess snuck out of her house to spend the day at Coney Island with him. Later that same day, Houdini proposed and they were married.