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WHEN HARRY MET EDNA

March 24, 2019

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In July, 1904, World renowned escape artist Harry Houdini and his brother Theo (also a great and unique magician) returned to their former home town Appleton, Wisconsin to relax, visit friends and renew old acquaintances. Edna Ferber, the future best selling novelist, was a 19 year old reporter for the Appleton Crescent. She met Harry at a drugstore on College Avenue and conducted an impromptu interview. I love this description...
"He is resting here and one can see how he needs a period of quiet when one talks to him, for he is a quick nervous chap, inclined to jump when an unexpected noise is heard and to shut his eyes until they are almost closed; when speaking under excitement."
Houdini, of course, was on his way to becoming the world's most famous magician - a brand that has doubled down and stood the test of time.  Edna Ferber would write GIANT and many more best sellers - most becoming major motion pictures. Neither was born in Appleton, but both grew up in the city and considered it their hometown. Houdini was born Erich Weiss in Budapest, Hungary. His father moved ahead of his family to set up a new synagogue to serve Appleton's growing Jewish population. Appleton and then Milwaukee were his boyhood homes. He always claimed Appleton to be his birthplace. The above illustrations for all you Fox Cities Philatelists out there. Below is a high school photo of Edna Ferber taken in Appleton and  the 1904 issue of the Appleton Crescent containing her famous interview.