Harry Houdini, was born Erich
Weiss on March 24, 1874 in Budapest, Hungary. He and his family emigrated to
the U.S. and was obsessed with magic. At 17 years old, he took
the stage name of "Houdini" and became a trapeze and vaudeville
At the age of 20, Houdini
married Bess, his stage partner. In around 1900, Harry became
nationally known for extremely daring escapes from locked boxes,
padlocked containers and chests, while handcuffed and tied up.
He began using the local police as publicity
stunts to escape from
their handcuffs. He would bring police officers on stage to
examine the handcuffs and his other props for authenticity.
Houdini was double-jointed and able to dislocate his joints to
free himself from ropes and chains. Houdini hid lock picks in his hair and body to pick the locks.
He was known
for being held upside down in a straitjacket while locked up and
also thrown in a river while chained up and still managing to
In 1908, Houdini added his
original invention The Milk Can
his act. He immersed himself in the can, which was filled with
water, while handcuffed and invited the audience to hold their
breath along with him. He escaped from this dangerous stunt to
After his mother died in
1913, Houdini became obsessed with making contact with her. He
realized that all spiritualists were frauds and set out to
expose and demystify spiritualists and prove they were frauds.
The Great Houdini's most
famous escape was the amazing Chinese Water
Torture Cell. This
dangerous stunt had Houdini held UPSIDE DOWN down in a cell full of
water, with his feet were locked up. Houdini was able to hold his
breath for 3 minutes while escaping and wowing the crowds.
In 1926, Houdini sat in his
dressing room after a show in Montreal. A student asked him if
it was true that Houdini could get hit in the stomach and avoid
injury. Houdini said yes, but before having his muscles fully
prepared, the student hit him, which caused abdominal pain.
Houdini's appendix was injured, which turned into peritonitis.
On October 24, 1926, Houdini fell ill at his show in Detroit.
Despite the Hollywood
legends that Houdini died in the Chinese Water Torture Cell, he
actually died from a ruptured appendix.
The Great Houdini DIED on HALLOWEEN - October 31, 1926.