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This nOde last updated June 10th, 2004 and is permanently morphing...
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American magician known for his escapes from chains, handcuffs, straitjackets, and padlocked containers.
Houdini, Harry, (1874-1926), American magician. He was born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest, Hungary. His family immigrated to the United States when he was a child and settled in Appleton, Wisconsin. Houdini took his professional name from French magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. He began his career in 1882 as a trapeze performer and later became famous for performing magic. He was able to free himself from handcuffs, ropes, locked trunks, and many types of bonds. Houdini attributed his magic to natural, physical effects and explained how many of his tricks were performed. His writings include Miracle Mongers and Their Methods (1920) and A Magician Among the Spirits (1924).
Theater and Film, 1900
"The Great Houdini" gains wide publicity by executing an escape from London's Scotland Yard, becomes a main attraction at London's Alhambra Theatre, and begins a 4-year tour of the Continent. U.S. escape artist Ehrich Weiss, 26, has adopted the name Houdini from the French magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin; having studied Robert-Houdin's work, his book The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin in 1908 will show that the Frenchman's dexterity was much exaggerated, and he will far surpass Robert-Houdin's reputation with feats such as having himself shackled in irons, locked into a roped and weighted box, dropped overboard from a boat, and emerging with a smile before baffled audiences.
Theater and Film, 1926
Harry Houdini makes headlines August 6 by remaining underwater for 91 minutes in an airtight case containing only enough air to sustain a man for 5 or 6 minutes. The 52-year-old escape artist has practiced breath control and has remained absolutely still in order to minimize his oxygen consumption, but the Great Houdini suffers a subsequent stomach injury and dies of peritonitis October 31.
escaper: escape artist, escapologist, Houdini
Harry Houdini broke, injured, or sprained nearly every part of his body during the course of his escape-artist career. One of the worst injuries he sustained was when he was performing a rope tie in Pittsburgh. He had a longshoreman come on stage and tie him tightly. Houdini was tied so tightly his kidney was ruptured. For about a week, he was urinating blood.
In 1910, Magician Harry Houdini purchased a Voisin biplane
in Germany. He had the plane dismantled and shipped to Australia,
where he planned an extended tour. His plane was the first flown in Australia,
and he was the first to pilot a plane there. Interestingly, he taught himself
how to drive a car during that time,
so that he could get out to the airfield. After his Australian tour, Houdini
abandoned the plane and coincidentally, also never
Houdini was born Erich Weiss. In the early 1900's while performing on the vaudeville circuit, Houdini worked with a couple named Keaton. Their young son Joseph was intrigued by Houdini's magic, and Houdini was quite taken with the boy. Houdini nicknamed him "Buster", and the name stuck, explaining how Buster Keaton, the famous film comedian, got his name.