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Bess Houdini

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Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner (January 22, 1875 - February 11, 1943), known as Bess, was the stage assistant and wife of Harry Houdini. They had no children.

Bess Houdini
BornWilhekmina Beatrice Rahner
January 22, 1875
Brooklyn, New York City
DiedFebruary 11, 1943 (age 68)
Needles, California
Resting placeGate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York

Bess Houdini held yearly séances on Halloween for ten years after Houdini's death, but Houdini never appeared. In 1936, after a last unsuccessful séance on the roof of the Knickerbocker Hotel, she put out the candle that she had kept burning beside a photograph of Houdini since his death, later (1943) saying, "ten years is long enough to wait for any man." The tradition of holding a séance for Houdini continues by magicians throughout the world to this day and is currently organized by Sidney H. Radner and others, including Dorothy Dietrich at the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania.[1]

Bess Houdini died in 1943, 17 years after her husband. She was not permitted to be interred with her late husband at the Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, New York because she was a gentile. She is interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.


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  1. Cover Genii 1939 October