Houdini Performs Vanishing Elephant Illusion at New York's Hippodrome Theatre
When Houdini spread the "front" curtains and opened the "back" doors they were "faced" toward opposite wings.
Jennie then strolled on stage, had her sugar with Houdini by the footlights and was moved from there to the front of the cabinet, which she entered. The curtains were then drawn shut at Houdini's order, and the two doors were closed at the back. After this, the front was then slowly but steadily turned straight toward the audience. Filled with 5 tons of elephant, the illusion required twelve men to turn the cabinet, which took up seven or eight minutes. During this time, all Houdini did was open the front curtains. He didn't have to open the back doors. Each half of the back door had an oval cutout in the edge, so that when closed, they showed a circular opening in the center. The audience saw through the cabinet and out the hole in the back. Apparently the elephant had vanished; otherwise there would have been no unobstructed view.
Houdini performed his largest stage illusion in 1918, vanishing Jenny the elephant at New York's Hippodrome. Always ready to embellish a sensation, he claimed that she weighed 10,000 pounds. The online photo shows Houdini, arms outstretched, standing below the elephant as it rears on its hind legs.