Sunday, March 17, 2019

April 6 - Houdini and the Spiritualists

Presented by Ken Trombly

Much of the life of Harry Houdini was intertwined with episodes and personalities involving spiritualism and its practitioners. In his early days, he sometimes blurred the line between conjuring and the spirit world.  During his meteoric career, many of his conjuring feats were ascribed by some to be aided by unseen forces.  But he was very much the face of skepticism in the USA regarding the spiritualism movement.  His friendship with Arthur Conan Doyle came to an end over the latter’s belief in spiritualism.  He testified before a congressional committee in support of a bill to prohibit fortune telling in Washington, DC.  His work against fake mediums continued up until his death.

In this talk, Ken will share his thoughts concerning Houdini’s relationship with spiritualism and its adherents, and will illustrate this fascinating story with original items from his collection of Houdini ephemera.

Ken Trombly, a lifelong magic enthusiast, has given presentations about the life of Houdini for a variety of groups. In the 1980’s Ken began collecting original letters, photos and other ephemera dealing with Houdini’s amazing career.  Pieces from Ken's collection have been displayed at the Jewish Museum in New York City, the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, and, most recently, as part of an exhibit on the life of Houdini at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, in Baltimore. Recently Ken was interviewed on a mini-series aired on the Science Channel entitled “Houdini’s Last Secrets.”

A Boston native, Ken is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the Magic Circle of London and the Magic Collectors Association. When he is not hunting down original Houdini artifacts and magic posters, he is a full time trial lawyer - another role that requires a heightened sense of skepticism.

Saturday, April 6, 2019
1:30 pm

Connie Morella Library
7400 Arlington Road
Bethesda, MD