Bess <I>Rahner</I> Houdini

Bess Rahner Houdini

Original Name Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner
Brighton Beach, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Death 11 Feb 1943 (aged 67)
Needles, San Bernardino County, California, USA
Burial Hawthorne, Westchester County, New York, USA
Plot Section 48, 184-10
Memorial ID 2195 · View Source
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Entertainer. Born Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, she met an unknown magician named Ehrich Weiss in 1894 who, with his brother, Dash was performing under the name Houdini Brothers. She was performing a song and dance act as one of the Floral Sisters in Brighton Beach, New York. After a three week courtship, and despite objections to a Gentile daughter-in-law, the couple were married on June 22, 1894. Bess left the Floral Sisters and became her husband's new stage assistant and the act became The Houdinis. They gained notice with a trunk escape Houdini created called The Metamorphosis and began playing in leading vaudeville houses from the Midwest to California; by 1900, they were also starring on the East Coast circuit. After a successful tour of Europe, the couple returned home in 1905 and bought a brownstone in Manhattan. After the death of her mother-in-law in 1913, Bess and Harry became deeply involved with the then popular spiritualist movement, often debunking frauds. After her husband's notorious death in 1926 having shared 32 years of marriage, Bess was left alone for the first time in her life and she planned to honor her husband's request to attempt contact with him. She announced that she was waiting for a secret message from her husband and offered $10,000 to any medium who could deliver a true message from Houdini. Hundreds responded. In 1928 medium Arthur Ford announced that he had a message for Bess from Houdini's mother which consisted of a single word; ‘forgive.' Bess claimed that Ford's message was the first that she had received which "…had any appearance of the truth." Accusations of fraud were leveled against Ford. The press, skeptics and Houdini's family denied Ford's claims and Bess withdrew her reward offer. Bess continued to hold séances, but the last official Houdini séance was on Halloween night 1936, on the tenth anniversary of her husband's death. It, too, was unsuccessful and Bess announced "Houdini did not come through. My last hope is gone. I do not believe that Houdini can come back to me - or to anyone....It is finished. Good night, Harry!" At age 67, Bess died aboard a train bound for New York from California. She was not permitted to rest beside her husband at the Machpelah Jewish Cemetery in Queens, but is buried at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.

Bio by: Iola

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 2195
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bess Rahner Houdini (22 Jan 1876–11 Feb 1943), Find a Grave Memorial no. 2195, citing Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .