Six Strange and Endearing Facts about Bess Houdini

The Secret Life of Mrs. London reveals the love triangle between the Houdinis and Londons!

1. Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner was a singer and dancer in the Floral Sisters, a vaudeville act at Coney Island.

2. She became Bess Houdini when she met Harry Houdini, about whom she told many conflicting stories! She said she met Houdini when he did a magic show at her high school, and he accidentally spilled acid on her dress. Or, she met him at Coney Island when the Floral Sisters performed in the act after the Houdini brother's magic act. Sometimes, she claimed they were married by a Catholic priest for her mother’s sake. Other times a Rabbi married them, since Houdini was Jewish. She claimed she was barely seventeen, but she was eighteen. No one has discovered any record of their marriage!

3. Bess Houdini lied about having children. In 1911, Bess told a Ohio reporter that their daughter was having a baby. She never had a child, but loved to collect dolls.

4. Bess loved pets as well. Their first dog was Charlie, a Pomeranian given to them by the Grand Duke of Russia. Then, Bess found a fox terrier at the butcher shop, and wanted to feed it. When the butcher wouldn’t let her, she bought the dog from him! Houdini taught Bobby how to escape handcuffs and a straitjacket.The Houdinis kept an aviary of birds, talking parrots named Laura and Polly, a pet turtle named Petie, a parrot named Polly, a canary named Houdini, and a rabbit named Rudy. There was also his patriotic appearing American eagle, "Abraham Lincoln".

5. Bess Houdini was barely five feet tall, weighed ninety-eight pounds and wore a size one shoe.

6. After Houdini died, Bess Houdini conducted seances to reach him for ten years, before she gave up trying.

I adored writing THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON and her friend, Bess Houdini, with her devilish spirit, her riotous humor, her stubborn and flawed love for Houdini.

THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON, the love triangle between Houdini, Jack and Charmian London. By Rebecca Rosenberg Novelist