|The Psychic Penomenon that
Houdini Couldn't Explain
Yesterday, Aug. 26, 2011, I visited a church in Central
Los Angeles at 906m E. 23rd St. In 1923 this was the
1st Spiritualist Church of Los Angeles.
One of the strangest occurrences of Houdini's life
occurred there April 11, 1923.
At her 73rd birthday party held at the First Spiritualist
Temple, 906 E. 23rd St., Los Angeles, Calif., on July 16,
1922, Mrs. Fairfield McVickers, stated that she had
seen herself passing out in a vision and felt that if a
photograph was taken of her casket at 5 o'clock on the
day of her funeral that she would be enabled to appear
on the picture. Two hundred of her friends were present
at her party and thought it strange that she should
make such a statement.
A photograph taken at 5 o'clock March 23, 1923, was
made to fulfill her request.
Los Angeles, April 11, 1923.
Having been approached by Mr. Albert H. Hetzel, in reference to the spirit photographs taken of Mrs. Mary Fairfield McVickers,
who, before she passed away, requested that photographs should be taken over her body at 5 o'clock P.M. on the day of her
funeral, saying that she would appear in spirit form. I made an appointment with him-at 3 o'clock P.M., April 11, saying that I
would bring along my own photographer. I asked him not to tell the man what it was for.
I got in touch with Larry Semon to let me have a camera man. At half past two his secretary, King, phoned through that he
could not get the man but would engage one for me, and at 3:45 Nathan B. Moss of the Keystone Press Illustration Service,
427 Chamber of Commerce Building, 130 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, Calif., walked in with his camera and plateholders
loaded with fourteen negatives.
He had no idea what I wanted, but was under the impression that I was going to do a stunt and wanted a stunt picture. I
explained things to him, told him that I wanted to reload plateholders with brand new plates which I would buy. He, not
knowing the importance of the test, derided the fact of my not wanting to use his plates, but I told him I might have to take
oath that I bought the plates and that therefore it was important.
We went to Howland & Dewey, Kodak representatives, for a dozen of plates 5x7. Not to trust my judgment I explained to Mr.
Frank Hale behind the counter what I wanted. He handed over four packages of a dozen plates each, laid them on the
counter. A total stranger to me was standing there. Mr. Mat Korn, 5969 Carlton Avenue, to whom I said, "Will you please
select any one of these packages?" He did, but as I picked up the package to hand it to Moss I noticed one end had not
been properly glued. Therefore I did not buy these plates, but I asked Mr. Korn to remember the incident.
I returned to the counter and told Mr. Hale that I wanted a package that was perfect. He then pulled out five packages. This
time I laid them on the counter before another gentleman asking him to select one which he did. In asking his name he told
me he was Wheeler of the Los Angeles Record, photographer. I personally handled the package, walked in the dark room
with Moss. He took out his own plates and as he handed them to me, the plates just purchased were loaded into the
plateholders. He then placed all the loaded plates into his regulation grip. The grip never left my possession after it was
placed into the motor car.
On arrival at the church we took ten exposures. The plate in which the light shows is the second one taken under the same
exposure that Mr. Hetzel wanted, three minutes, F. 4.
The faces that Mr. Hetzel pointed out to me as being spirit faces floating around, I discovered were faces, either through
accident or design, could positively be recognized and seen on the wall, but only at a distance away from the wall and at
certain angles. In order to show the accuracy of this I requested Mr. Moss to hold a pencil on the wall, I walked back until I
could see the faces, then I requested him to move the pencil until it was right under the chin of the face which can be plainly
seen, and I posed with pencil and the photo is a three-minute exposure. Mr. Hetzel was positive that the faces were spirit
faces before I had shown to everyone in the room that the peculiar formation allowed your mind to see faces, in fact he had
one photo of his own and traced a number of spirit faces, so he said.
The pictures were taken as follows:
April 11, 1923. 1st negative 3:30 P.M., 2nd negative 3:58 P.M. ("spirit" negative).
When we returned to the Chamber of Commerce Building, we entered the dark room and in my presence the
plates were developed immediately, and on one we beheld a peculiar streak. Mr. Moss became very much excited. He had a
print made from this plate which caused a great deal of talk, not one photographer could explain how this could be tricked.
Mr. Moss offered $100 to anyone who could produce it under the same conditions, whereas no one could duplicate same.
Were present: Mr. J. M. Hall, Mr. Albert H. Hetzel, Mr. Stanley Bruce, Reporter of the Examiner, Mr. Virgil Vlasek, Financial
Several people thought they could see the apparition of Mrs. McVickers in this photo, near her coffin.
|Houdini hired a photographer to take pictures of the same part of the room where Mrs. McVickers had lain in her
coffin. On one of the ten plates exposed, a mysterious streak of light appeared in front of the screen at the left.