Harry Kellar and the Soda Bottle

Reading through old newspaper files you soon realize that people will always be people and newspapers tend to cater to their readers more earthy interests. Tabloid like news articles have not changed much over the centuries, you can read about infidelity, spousal abuse, murder, financial problems, scandals, robbery, and the like. Magicians had their personal issues and newspapers were more than happy to write about them. I am a bit of a fan of good old fashion  “tabloid journalism”, those old newspaper reports had a way of turning a phrase that seems to be lost today.

An article from the December 5, 1894 issue of  Cleveland’s Plain Dealer shows a side of the relationship between Harry Kellar and his wife, Eva, that is only hinted at in most magic history publications. Harry was totally devoted to Eva, which might not been easy if the following article was any indication.



Magician Kellar’s Wife

Smites Her Spouse

With a Bottle


A Scene in a Drug Store


The Man of Mystery is Rendered Unconscious by a Soda Bottle in the Hands of His Better Half – The Theory of Hypnotic Influence is Thoroughly Exploded – The Real Skelton in the Closet.


 Indianapolis, Dec. 4 – Magician Kellar and Mrs. Kellar, who assists him in his performances, left the city yesterday on separate trains though it is understood their destinations were the same. Mr. Kellar’s left eye was swollen almost shut and several stitches held together an ugly looking cut on his cheek. Mr. Kellar is a strictly temperate man and during his engagement in Indianapolis had much to contend with, of which the public was entirely ignorant. That Mrs. Kellar is a wonder and a mathematical genius no one who ever witnessed her performances can refuse to admit; but there is always a cloud somewhere on the horizon, and the most brilliant minds like the most faultless days are not without their shadows. The high strung, nervous temperament of Mrs. Kellar demands stimulant and she uses it. This practice is the skeleton in the closet, and it was this with which Mr. Kellar had to contend during nearly the whole of last week. Saturday night after the two had returned to their hotel matters where brought to a climax. Mr. Kellar being called away for an hour, returned to find Mrs. Kellar gone. He found her shortly afterward in a drug store not far away making a purchase. He took in the situation at a glance, and before the clerk had filled the flask the two were in low, but earnest conversation. There were several in the store at the time and one gentleman overheard Mr. Kellar make a bitter charge against his wife.  Like a flash she turned in a fit of rage to the soda water fountain and grabbing up one of the heavy metal holders struck the magician with full force above the eye. He dropped like an ox in the shamble, while Mrs. Kellar ran for the door. Mr. Kellar was picked up in an unconscious condition and it was with some difficulty that he was brought back to consciousness. His eye was badly cut and he was in a bitter frame of mind. Before he had entirely recovered himself he talked freely of his domestic troubles and spoke of this first meeting with Mrs. Kellar in Philadelphia. It was some time before his injuries were properly attended to. In the meantime Mrs. Kellar had run to the hotel office and after trying to get the elevator, which at the moment was at the top floor, she started up the stairs. She was excited and hysterical and it was with considerable difficulty that she was induced to go to her room. Sunday night she was in the drug store and repeated her purchases. Mr. Kellar was amiable to leave his room during the day and it was not until train time that he made this appearance. Mr. Kellar had left on an earlier train, both going to Muncie where they were to appear last night.Among the few who knew the real status of affairs the weird theory of hypnotic trance was received with considerable amusement. Mrs. Kellar interrupted the performance Saturday night and left the stage, complaining of feeling ill. With rare presence of mind Mr. Kellar pretended to be bringing her out of the supposititious trance, but at the same time some rather stern remarks were being addressed to the lady in an undertone. This was the beginning of the trouble which later in the evening resulted so sensationally. Mrs. Kellar’s weakness is said to be the natural result of her peculiar temperament rather than a vicious tendency. She is unfortunate, rather than at fault.


Here is the orgianl article:  December 5, 1894 Plain Dealer

Hope you enjoyed and good hunting.

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