Mel Shavelson's production of the
Great Houdinis for ABC Circle Films
A Message from
Houdini's Ghost
In 1976, I was hired by the
producer/writer/director Melville Shavelson
to play Houdini's assistant Franz Kukol in an
all-star Movie of the Week from ABC Circle
Films called (then) "The Great Houdinis."
Shavelson wrote the script as "a fiction
based on some of the events in the life of
Harry Houdini." He also produced and
directed Paul-Michael Glaser, Sally
Struthers, Ruth Ford, Peter Cushing, Vivian
Vance, Adrienne Barbeau, Geoffrey Lewis,
Bill Bixby, Clive Revill, Wilfred Hyde-White,
Jack Carter, Nina Foch, Snag Werris,
Maureen O'Sullivan, several other people
and me.
I had worked for several months on a project
for NBC called "The Heart is Quicker Than
The Eye" produced by Bill McCutchen and
written by Jean Holloway. I was a "historical
Mel Shavelson's movie got the green light
first, and I was able help him in several
ways. He hired me to work onstage with all
the props, just as the fellow I was playing
had for Houdini.
Paul-Michael Glaser and Sally Struthers as "the Great Houdinis"
(above) Patrick Culliton as Franz Kukol standing by the cabinet, axe in hand.
(below) TV Guide ran an article which purported to expose Houdini's Water Torture
Cell. Only it wasn't Houdini's Water Torture Cell. In one photo in the spread, I can be
seen guiding Houdini's right side into the tank.
Eric Cord (stunt-doubling Paul-Michael Glaser) is plunged into the water, the
cabinet starts being pulled up. I'm not there--I have run for my axe.