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Sidney Hollis Radner

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Sidney Hollis Radner
BornSidney Hollis Radner
December 8, 1919
DiedJune 26, 2011 (age 91)
Longmeadow, Mass.
Resting placeSons of Zion Cemetery
CategoriesBooks by Sidney Hollis Radner

Sidney Radner (1919-2011), a retired rug salesman from Holyoke, Massachusetts, was a Houdini enthusiast and gambling history expert.[1]


In 1935, Radner was an aspiring magician using the stage name Rendar. At a convention in Springfield that year, Radner met Theodore Hardeen, Houdini's brother. Hardeen considered Radner, when he was a student at Yale University, as his protégé.

He eventually bought from Hardeen during the 1940s many Harry Houdini's items, eventually having one of the world's largest and most valuable collections of Harry Houdini artifacts.

During his Army service in World War II, he helped investigate card cheats on troop ships. He later wrote books about card games, including several on how to spot cheaters.

Radner organized the annual Official Houdini Seance beginning in the 1940, a tradition started in 1927 by Houdini’s widow, Bess. She held a séance on the anniversary of his death for 10 years, then gave up. But Houdini buffs like Radner carried on in his honor.

Radner allowed pieces of his collection to be displayed at The Houdini Magical Hall of Fame in Niagara Falls, Canada. In 1995, a fire destroyed the museum and many of the items.[2]

Radner archived the bulk of his collection at the Houdini Museum in Appleton Wisconsin, but pulled it in 2003 to auction the collection off in Las Vegas on October 30, 2004. Many of the choice props, including the restored Water Torture Cell, are now owned by David Copperfield. More props were auctioned off in 2008.[3]