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Abracadabra: Magicians restoring Houdini's N.Y. grave

Queens monument of legendary trickster will be refurbished and maintained.

By
Mary Papenfuss
The Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is teaming up with the American Society of Magicians to refurbish and maintain the Queens grave site of legendary magician Harry Houdini. (Houdini Museum/Facebook)
The Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is teaming up with the American Society of Magicians to refurbish and maintain the Queens grave site of legendary magician Harry Houdini. (Houdini Museum/Facebook)

NEW YORK, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Harry Houdini fans are waving a magic wand to launch a new restoration project and maintenance plan for the New York City grave site of the legendary magician.

The Society of Magicians is teaming up with a Houdini museum in Pennsylvania to raise money to restore the site in the Machpelah Cemetary in Queens and to establish a fund to cover the expected annual $1,200 cost to maintain the spot.

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The Houdini family plot includes benches, a large stone monument beneath a bust of Houdini, a mosaic of the Society of Magicians, and several markers for relatives buried there. Over the years the bust has been smashed or stolen at least twice, and benches and family markers for Houdini's brother and sister have been damaged.

Restoration will include recaulking the granite monument, fixing the damaged markers and refurbishing the mosaic. Repairs are expected to cost tens of thousands of dollars and will take two years.

Houdini died on Halloween of 1926 from complications of appendicitis.

He had already purchased 24 plots at the six-acre Jewish cemetery. His parents, siblings and grandmother — exhumed in Hungary and transported to Queens — are all buried there. His wife, Bess, was buried at a Catholic graveyard in Westchester.

"It's a wonderful project, but it's taken a lifetime to get people interested. It's long overdue, and it's great that it's happening," Dorothy Dietrich, a magician who runs the Houdini museum in Scranton, told the New York Daily News. "Houdini was a superhero."

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