Bess Houdini Holds 'Final Houdini Seance'

Bess Houdini, the magician's widow, held yearly séances on Halloween for ten years after Houdini's death, but Houdini never appeared.

In 1936, after a last unsuccessful séance on the roof of the Knickerbocker Hotel, she put out the candle that she had kept burning beside a photograph of Houdini since his death, later saying in 1943 that "ten years is long enough to wait for any man." The tradition of holding a séance for Houdini continues by magicians throughout the world to this day; the Official Houdini Séance is currently organized by Sidney Hollis Radner, a Houdini aficionado from upstate New York. Yearly Houdini Séances are also conducted in Chicago at Excalibur (nightclub) by "necromancer" Neil Tobin on behalf of the Chicago Assembly of the Society of American Magicians; and at the Houdini Museum in Scranton by magician Dorothy Dietrich who previously held them at New York's famous Magic Towne House with such magical notables as Houdini biographers Walter B. Gibson and Milbourne Christopher.

It was the night of October 31, 1936. Halloween night. The men and women sat at the round table with joined hands. They awaited the message - the message they had hoped for every Halloween night for the past 10 years. But the message did not come.

Finally, one woman rose from the table and announced to the others - and to a listening radio audience - "Houdini did not come through," she said. "My last hope is gone. I do not believe that Houdini can come back to me, or to anyone...The Houdini Shrine has burned for ten years. I now, reverently... turn out the light. It is finished. Good night, Harry!"