Book/Printed Material Image 12 of [Folklore of Stage People]

About this Item

guy leaves, the magician gets the shoe maker to put an ace of hearts in before he soles the shoes. In his pocket he carries around an identical deck, including an ace of hearts. He waits until he is with the professor and he's wearing those shoes, and then he woiks up to the card trick. He knew that if he waited long enough he could use that trick, and that's way he publicized himself. Always figgering ahead and leaving plants for the proper time.

I might as well tell you that the man I woiked for and who all the stories are about is Houdini, the whitest guy that ever lived—and one of the cleverest, too. Because I woiked for him and helped him in his act, of course, I got to know all the goings on about his tricks. There is a fortune in the stuff I know, but my code of honor is too strong for me to give it out. In fact, maybe you better not mention his name at all, just say when I woiked for a famous magician, 'cause his brother is now troupin' and I wouldn't want to hoit him any. There's one thing you oughta know about Houdini. He always insisted that everything he did could be explained. There was nothing to all this psychic [phenoneman?], or vibrations. Oh, some people have another sense. Houdini thought that, too, but all of his stuff was easy to explain if you knew how. Before he did a trick he used to say all this but nobody believed him, He has a great contempt for professors, and all the educated scientists. The reason for this was that after he demonstrated a trick in front of such an audience, they would retire to their laboratories and make up charts, pages long, trying to figure it all out scientifically. Then they would show him all the figures and he used to call them damn fools, because it was so easy and they couldn't figure it out.

I was with him when he died. Did you know how that happened? We were at the McGill University, in Canada and he was demonstrating before a large group of professors and students. One of the things he used most in his famous burying and escape acts was breath control. He was showing them the one

About this Item

[Folklore of Stage People]
Contributor Names
Roth, Terry (Interviewer)
Raynard, Nat (Interviewee)
Nagle, George (Interviewee)
Miller, Harry (Interviewee)
Created / Published
New York City, New York
Subject Headings
-  Recreation
-  Stagehands
-  Circus
-  Houdini, Harry, 1874-1926
-  Poetry
-  Narratives
-  United States -- New York -- New York City
Call Number/Physical Location
series: Folklore Project, Life Histories, 1936-39
MSS55715: BOX A723
Source Collection
U.S. Work Projects Administration, Federal Writers' Project
Manuscript Division
Online Format
online text

Rights & Access

The Library of Congress is not aware of any copyright in the documents in this collection. As far as is known, the documents were written by U.S. Government employees. Generally speaking, works created by U.S. Government employees are not eligible for copyright protection in the United States, although they may be under copyright in some foreign countries. The persons interviewed or whose words were transcribed were generally not employees of the U.S. Government. Privacy and publicity rights may apply.

Suggested credit line: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.

The introduction was written by Ann Banks © 1980 and produced by Joanne B. Freeman. The sound recordings were produced by Joan Murphy Stack and engineered by Rob Attinello. The actors who read the manuscripts were Clement Cottingham, Billie Durand, George A. Jackson, Jr., Margaret Root, Edward S. Stout, and Edna Jeweline White.

Privacy and Publication

Issues pertaining to privacy and publicity may arise when a researcher contemplates the use of letters, diary entries, or reportage found in library collections. Because two or more people are often involved (e.g., photographer and subject) and because of the ease with which they can be reused, photographs and motion pictures represent the types of documents in which issues of privacy and publicity emerge with some frequency.

Privacy and publicity rights are, of course, distinct from copyright. For example, an advertiser may have the photographer's permission (as copyright owner) to use a portrait. But in order to avoid invading privacy, the advertiser may also need the sitter's permission to use the photograph. In fact, publishers sometimes ask photographers to submit a copy of a "release form" in order to establish that the subject of a photograph gave his or her consent.

Although the risks for use in a periodical's "editorial" pages may be less than for use in advertising or for other commercial purposes, they can still be high if the person depicted is held up to ridicule or presented in a libelous manner.

While it is true that famous or public figures who seek recognition have thereby surrendered some privacy, they may have the right to control the commercial use of their image (likeness, voice, signature, etc.). This principle recognizes that a celebrity's image can be an asset in trade.

For more on these and related topics, consult the following books:

Chernoff, George and Hershel Sarbin. Photography and the Law, NY: AMPHOTO, 1971. Library of Congress call number: KF2042.P45C44 1971.

Schultz, John and Barbara Schultz. Picture Research: A Practical Guide, NY: Van Nostrand, 1991. Library of Congress call number: TR147.S38 1991.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Roth, Terry, Nat Raynard, George Nagle, and Harry Miller. Folklore of Stage People. New York City, New York, 1939. Pdf.

APA citation style:

Roth, T., Raynard, N., Nagle, G. & Miller, H. (1939) Folklore of Stage People. New York City, New York. [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Roth, Terry, et al. Folklore of Stage People. New York City, New York, 1939. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.