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1897-98 & 1923

Harry Houdini

Escaping The Sunflower State

Harry Houdini's Turbulent Time In Kansas



During late 1897 & into early 1898 Houdini traveled with a medicine show called The California Concert Company. Information on his performances, daily actives, stories, promotional materials, etc. for each stop is vital to research of this book. Below is a list of the towns The California Concert Company preformed in. Please click on any of the listings for additional information and interesting facts I have uncovered.  Any information about Houdini in these locations would be highly valued & credited in the book. or 316-371-1828

The Book

Escaping The

Sunflower State

During the winter of 1897, Harry & Bess Houdini would travel to Garnett, KS. With virtually no money or food, the pair had accepted a job at the very bottom of the performing arts food chain – working for a medicine show. Helping sell a "miraculous elixir" during the day and performing with the California Concert Company in the evenings, the Houdini's would have multiple life-changing experiences in small Kansas mining towns during the 3-1/2 month trek. .

During the Thanksgiving week of 1923, Harry Houdini would return to Kansas as one of the biggest stars in the world. During that week in Wichita, he was put into a straitjacket and hung upside down from the Beacon building on Main St. The Innes Company would construct a box that he could not possibly escape from on stage at the Orpheum Theater. He would take to the radio and discuss Spiritualism. He also had a new movie showing at the Holland Theater, Haldane of the Secret Service. After a full week in Wichita in November 1923, he would escape Kansas once again, to never return......

During Harry Houdini's brief time in Kansas, he would perform some of his most famous illusions, make wagers with law enforcement, practice & also vehemently denounce Spiritualism and later claim to have beent shot in the hand in Coffeyville, KS before escaping the state.

Join me, Don Creekmore, in researching, documenting & publishing a book detailing Harry & Bess Houdini's time in the Sunflower State. A time when an unknown magician selling "snake oil" on street corners of small Kansas mining towns would later become the most famous magician of all time.



Don Creekmore

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As a lifelong resident of Kansas and specifically the Wichita, KS area its history has always interested me. As a Wichita State University graduate and business owner in the antiques field, my appreciation of surviving artifacts and information about notable Kansas events and people is keen. 

Like many youngsters, Harry Houdini was almost a mythical figure in magic and history to me. How could someone bigger than life have any notable connection to Kansas? As my interest in his life, feats and mythology grew I stumbled up a piece of faded fragile paper that would set in motion my desire to learn about Houdini's connection to the state & people of Kansas. As fate would have it, I would get married to my high school sweetheart in the Wichita Orpheum theater where Houdini performed in 1923.


While this pursuit initially seemed trivial and for my own personal curiosity, discoveries about his time in Kansas would uncover details about Houdini's life never before published. These discoveries have encouraged me to dig deeper and uncover the facts of each day Houdini was preforming his feats in Kansas during the cold winter of 1897-98 in southeastern Kansas and also Thanksgiving week 1923 in Wichita.

So what was the faded piece of paper that started everything? As they say, you will have to wait for the book......


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