Chicago magician, Lee Levin made a request to a friend who was a poster dealer, if anything magic related appeared in the shop; he wanted to know about it—first. In 2006, the call came. There were two posters he needed to see.
You would never expect it, not in an ordinary Chicago neighborhood, not in a depression era bungalow, certainly never hidden in a ceiling for near seventy years. Yet, the story really starts around 1996 when urban legend becomes reality.
An immigrant roofer, rehabbing an attic, tears open the roof and, used as insulation, a group of 50 to 100 posters. Houdini posters. Water stains, mildew, and a crust of bird waste make them appear to be garbage. Yet, the worker, knowing the name Houdini, rescues a precious two from the dumpster. He displays the posters in his home until a special on the Houdini auction and the thousands of dollars paid the magician’s memorabilia inspire him to sell.
After viewing the posters, Lee did his homework. He searched the internet for related information. He quizzed to several experts. Convinced the posters, from Houdini’s final season, were authentic and with some understanding from his wife, he made the investment.
Lee’s profession is a television director for a local Chicago news station and he knew the discovery of new Houdini posters was a good story. It just needed the right venue. Lee chose to call PBS’ History Detectives to confirm what he already knew and, perhaps, find something he didn’t. (In a twist of fate, the show had been looking for magic related stories for some time.) For those not familiar with the show, four history experts investigate “untold stories from America’s past.”
Lee’s story aired nationally on June 19.