Los Angeles, USA

The Greatest Adventure Chapter 3

Geoff writes about our home town of Riverside, with really interesting stuff I never knew or forgot about. He also recounts his early days of mischief, including how he haunted his parent’s house.

This magic themed horror movie was filmed at Riverside’s Benedict Castle.

It inspired this Dell comic book.

A million times more terrifying than anything in the movie was when people from Benedict Castle came to our school.

If you have ever eaten a naval orange, it originated from this tree in Riverside. Geoff tells quite an interesting story about the woman who made naval oranges a reality. This photo is from 1963. It is still there and still producing oranges.

This is Fairmount Park in a postcard from 1916 not long after it opened. It looked a little different when my parents took me there for Sunday outings. It was designed by the son of the man who designed Central Park in New York. It was also the site of one of my earliest public performances, in their famed bandshell. The bandshell was designed in 1920 by Mission-style architect Arthur Burnett Benton and is a city landmark, as is the park.

This is World Peace Bridge on Mount Rubidoux, home of the oldest outdoor non-denominational Easter Sunrise service in the United States. I loved riding my ten-speed down this road (up, not so much).

I learned from the book why the Presidential Lounge in the historic Mission Inn (pictured above in the 1920s) has a cocktail named after Harry Houdini. I already knew why it was called the Presidential Lounge.

Hugely popular songwriter Carrie Jacobs Bond’s original sheet music for A Perfect Day. This is the first printing, the only one where the full name, The End of a Perfect Day, was used. The text in the right lower box reads “Written while sitting in this swing in the court of the Mission Inn after returning from a pilgrimage to Father Sierra’s cross on Rubidoux Mountain 1909.”

This is Harry Houdini opening a safe underwater in his movie Terror Island filmed in 1919. All of the underwater scenes were shot in a swimming pool at Elliotta Plunge, a natural springs maybe a mile or two from my childhood home (the exact location is a little uncertain). The Springs opened in 1896, but was long gone by the time I came around.

Bill Bixby starred in the single season of The Magician in 1973. Geoff was thrilled when an episode was shot at the Mission Inn. Behind Bill is the Zig-Zag illusion, which Geoff and I performed many times while working in a Side Show. In our version, I was not the assistant, but played Madame Zig-Zag, a woman with mysterious rubbery stretching abilities.

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