When fifty-two year old Harry Houdini died in a Detroit hospital at 1:26 p.m. on October 31, 1926 he left his widow, Bess, on shaky financial footing.
While Bess Houdini was left a sizable life insurance payout the recent widow could clearly no longer afford her and Harry’s former lifestyle.
Not long after Houdini’s death Bess left her and Harry’s West 113th Street apartment and moved to Inwood where she would be joined by other members of the Houdini clan.
Every Sunday, at the hour of Harry’s death, Bess would lock herself in a room of her 67 Payson Avenue home with a photograph of her dead husband and wait for a sign.
While Bess dabbled in the occult, even operating a tearoom in the neighborhood, she never truly seemed to accept Harry’s belief in a spirit world. In fact, shortly before Houdini’s death, he entered a pact with Bess. The two agreed that for the next ten years, on the Halloween anniversary of his death, Bess would conduct a seance in which the ghost of Harry would produce a secret code.
If ten years passed without the code being revealed, well, it was “Goodnight Harry.”
What follows is a rebroadcast of that final seance held on the roof of the Hollywood Knickerbocker Hotel on October 31st, 1936.