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Historical Essay

Magician's Escape Trunk

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Escape trunk, restraining devices, and curtain used by magician Ben Bergor of Madison, Wisconsin, 1940s. (Museum objects #1982.159.17,19,21,23,25)

Date: 1969-06-24 

Description: Cover of "The Kudzu," an underground newspaper, featuring a reproduction of Martin Schongauer's 15th Century engraving entitled, "Saint Anthony Tormented b...

Date:  date unknown

Description: View from window looking down at the escape act of Madison magician Ben Bergor. He is beginning to make the escape from the straightjacket while the crowd...

Date: 1920 

Description: Escape artist Harry Houdini being tortured by cannibals in the silent film "Terror Island." Like the other films in which Houdini stared, the plot was desi...

Date: 1950-10-20 

Description: Magician Jack Hurlbut, right, pulls a skunk out of a hat in front of Charles Copp, master of ceremonies at the Shorewood Community League's "Shindig" party...

Photograph

Houdini, Harry

Date:  date unknown

Description: Harry Houdini in chains and ropes. He is tied to a wheel on a locomotive.

Photograph

Sleight of Hand

Date:  date unknown

Description: Outdoor portrait of Madison magician Ben Bergor, who performed as Bennie Golden Berger during the early years of his career. He billed himself as the faste...

Date:  date unknown

Description: Two-sided playing card used for advertising by magician Howard Thurston (d. 1936), arguably the greatest magician of his day. The reverse side of the card...

Photograph

Shriners Yule Party

Date: 1947-12-18 

Description: Fletcher Mills doing a card trick for three children, with a clown looking on, at the Madison Shriners yule party at the Washington Orthopedic School, 545...

Date: 1905 

Description: William R. Holmes, member of the Menomonie High School class of 1905, depicted as a professional magician in front of a painted backdrop. Pictured with a m...

Date: 1937 ca.

Description: Ben Bergor, a Madison area magician (standing third from the left), with a group of Chicago area magicians. Identified individuals are (seated, left to rig...

Date: 1914 

Description: Harry Houdini, born Erik Weisz in Hungary and raised as Erich Weiss in Appleton, Wisconsin, preparing to do one of his famous escapes, this time from a sub...

Photograph

Mandu the Magician

Date:  date unknown

Description: Doc Mann of Beloit, Wisconsin, who performed novelty entertainment and "top hat magic" as Mandu the magician.

Date:  date unknown

Description: Magicians Dave (left) and Pauline Coleman performing their famous "Hindu Torture Board" trick using an anvil on a board full of nails positioned on the abd...

Date:  date unknown

Description: Formal publicity portrait of magician Ben Bergor of Madison performing one of his sleight of hand tricks with lighted cigarettes. Bergor was billed as the...

Date: 1971-04 ca.

Description: Poster featuring a skeleton on horseback, carrying a banner that reads, "Apocalypse". A skyline of Madison appears beneath, on fire, with the phrase "Heral...

Historical Object

Houdini Award

Date: 1941 ca.

Description: The Houdini Award, an album, presented to Madison magician Ben Bergor by the Houdini Club of Wisconsin. Because Bergor won the award three years in success...

Photograph

Ben Bergor on Stage

Date: 1930 ca.

Description: Magician Ben Bergor of Madison with the stage equipment he used for his performances.

Poster

Ben Bergor Ad

Date: 1934 

Description: Advertising poster for a performance by Madison magician Ben Bergor.

Photograph

Houdini Award

Date: 1941 

Description: Ben Bergor, a Madison magician, receiving the Houdini Award from the widow of Harry Houdini. Behind him is the trunk from which Bergor had escaped, and fou...

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