Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Montage of images and link description. Houdini Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
The Film & More
Interview Transcripts | Further Reading

James Randi, illusionist, on:

James Randi Now, you have to understand, in those days spiritualism was a religion (as it is today) and it was also an act that was done on a Vaudeville stage, and done in private parlors, and done in gatherings in halls that were devoted entirely to that particular kind of chicanery.

Harry and Dash, just barely out of their teens, went to see a performance in a local theater in which a medium was tied into a chair and placed inside a cabinet, and then all sorts of things happened. Instruments flew out of the top. Instruments played: violins, harmonicas, and whatnot. And the implication was, the suggestion was that the spirits were doing this, because the medium was incapable of doing it. The medium was fastened to the chair. And there was no hesitation on Harry’s part to turn to Dash and say, "That’s not what’s happening. That person released himself from the handcuffs and from the ropes." And I think that at that very moment in that theater, the idea of the escape act was born.

back to Interview Transcripts | next

Program Description | Enhanced Transcript | Reference

The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline | Gallery | People & Events | Teacher's Guide
The American Experience | Kids | Feedback | Search | Shop | Subscribe

©  New content 1999 PBS Online / WGBH

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: