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Envelope- Bess

The Houdini Envelopes

To Bess Houdini from lawyer B.M.L. Ernst, 1939

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Letter to Bess Houdini

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Postmarked September 15, 1939 from Times Square Station, NY, this envelope is addressed to Mrs. Beatrice Houdini, 963 N. Mariposa Avenue, Hollywood, CA. It is from B.M.L. Ernst.

Bernard M.L. Ernst, Bess' lawyer from the time of Houdini's death until her own death in 1943, was also a close friend of the Houdinis. Much has been made of the secret message code shared between Houdini and Bess, the secret message that was to be related from beyond the grave by whichever one died first. Bess had written the coded message and locked it away in her safe deposit box at the Fifth Avenue branch of the Manufacturers Trust Bank. She held one key to the box, and Bernard Ernst held the other.

Bernard Ernst was also a magician, and after Houdini's death was elected president of the Society of American Magicians to serve the remainder of Houdini's term. He also delivered the graveside memorial eulogy on the one-year anniversary of Houdini's death, when the huge monument in Machpelah cemetery was dedicated. According to the October 31, 1927 article in the New York Times, Ernst delivered a glowing tribute, mentioning Houdini's ongoing campaign against spiritualist impostors.

In 1932, Ernst published two books. The first, co-written (with Hereward Carrington), was titled Houdini and Conan Doyle, The Story of A Strange Friendship, detailing the battle between the two famous men over the existence of spirit phenomena. The second was really written by Walter Gibson, titled Houdini's Escapes and Magic: Prepared from Houdini's Private Notebooks and Memoranda with the Assistance of Beatrice Houdini, Widow of Houdini, and Bernard M.L. Ernst, President of the Parent Assembly of the Society of American Magicians.

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