See how the great Harry Houdini signed autographs for fellow performers

November 21, 2017

This gem comes from Alison Young, a member of a long lineage of music hall performers. In her personal blog, she shares stories from her relations’ years working stages across the UK. One of her recent posts has a delightful snippet of magic history.

Young shared a page from the autograph book once owned by her great grandfather, Larry Lewis, with an inscription from Harry Houdini dated March 11, 1909. The entry includes a photograph (which you can see on Young’s site here) with a hand-drawn image of chains and handcuffs. On the opposite page, above his signature, Houdini wrote the words, “Safe bind, safe find, does not apply to the undersigned.”

Magic history favors the big names, the ones who were successful enough to land a page in textbooks or to be immortalized in film or art. But Young’s anecdote shows the less dazzling side to those performers, the people who worked the grind of early show business without becoming superstars. The idea of them sharing autographs backstage, leaving doodles and pithy words for each other, is a real charmer. After all, you never know when a future superstar might be sharing a stage with you.