November 26, 2015 by houdiniandhardeen
Antique Mall find – I picked up a 1940 edition of The Playbill featuring a story on a comedy variety show “Hellzapoppin” staring Vaudeville stars Olsen & Johnson and others. Theo Hardeen has a part and surprisingly Jim Collins Houdini’s right hand man appears on the program too!
Some history from Wikipedia:
After opening at the Shubert Theatre in Boston on September 10, 1938, Hellzapoppin opened on Broadway at the original 46th Street Theatre on September 22, 1938, transferred to the Winter Garden Theatre on November 26, 1938, and finally moved to the Majestic Theatre on November 25, 1941. It closed on December 17, 1941, after a total of 1,404 performances.
Olsen and Johnson led a large cast of entertainers: the comedy team of Barto and Mann (Dewey Barto and George Mann); Charles Whithers; celebrity impersonators, the Radio Rogues; Hal Sherman; Walter Nilsson; singing group The Charioteers; identical-twin dancers Bettymae and Beverly Crane; stage magician Theo Hardeen (better known as Harry Houdini’s younger brother); the Hawaiian music of Ray Kinney and the Aloha Maids; Bergh and Moore; J. C. Olsen; Reed, Dean and Reed (Bonnie Reed, Syd Dean, and Mel Reed); Roberta and Ray; The Starlings; Dorothy Thomas; Shirley Wayne; Cyrel Roodney and June Winters; Billy Adams; and Whitey’s Steppers (also known as Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers). Olsen and Johnson were succeeded by Jay C. Flippen and Happy Felton in June 1940.
Cover of The Playbill:
There is a mention of a Straightjacket in scene 8. I suspect Hardeen had something to do with this scene.
Notice scene 2 has Jim Collins Houdini’s right hand man listed. Jim worked with Hardeen after Houdini died.
Hardeen is listed in scene 2 “Now you see it” and 7 “Now Comes The Time”:
From the Cast section:
The next two are from Conjurors Magazine – Memorial Edition 1945:
Also from Conjurors Magazine. I would assume this is from Hellzapoppin. Olsen and Johnson appear in this picture along with Jim Collins.