Harry Houdini was known as the greatest magician of all time, although he didn't consider himself a magician, but an escape artist. This page will tell you briefly about his life.
Erich Wiess was born in Budapest, Hungary on March 24, 1874, although he claimed to have been born in Appleton, Wisconsin on April 6, 1874. His younger brother, Theodore, was born on February 29 (leap year), 1876 in Appleton, Wisconsin. In 1888, the Weiss family moved to New York. There, Erich became interested in magic, and uses the name Harry Houdini, from the French magician Eugene Robert-Houdin. In 1891, Harry first became a professional magician. He starts his famous metamorphosis act at Coney Island with his brother in 1892.
In 1894, Harry meets Beatrice Rahner. They fell in love and were married on June 22. Beatrice, now know as Bess, immediately takes over Theodore's place in the act. Their unsuccessful period with the American Gaiety Girls in 1896 prompted them to join Marco the Magician in New Brunswick. Here, Harry starts doing the famous Straitjacket Escape. Harry and Bess have their first son, nicknamed "Buster" after Buster Keaton.
In 1898, they joined with the Welsh Brothers Circus, where he develops his handcuff escape act. Houdini booked over Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit, doing his handcuff act with jailbreaks for publicity, which caused his salary to leap from $60 to $120 weekly. In 1900, Harry went to London, Germany, and Russia. There, he became a sensation in the vaudeville acts. He returned, in 1905, to America and made $1,200 weekly. In 1906, he escaped from the death cell in the Washington Jail where Charles Guiteau, assassin of President Garfield, was held. Harry went into publishing with Whitman Osgood, which produced the "Conjurer's Monthly Magazine", and The Right Way to do Wrong. Here, he explained various tricks.
In 1907, he performed his famous "Bridge Jump". With a 75-pound ball and chain attached to his ankles and handcuffs on his wrists, he jumped off of the Golden Gate Bridge. Also, in 1908, created a new escape trick. He escaped from a giant milk can filled with water. In 1912, he escaped from a weighted packing case, dropped in the water from a boat. He received $1,000 a week for this trick.
In 1913, he created one of his most famous tricks: The Chinese Water Torture Cell. Here he was locked upside-down in a box filled with water. In July, his mother died while Harry was in Germany, while performing his Chinese Water Torture Cell trick.
In 1915, he toured the USA performing his Chinese Water Torture Cell. To add to his trick, he wore a straight jacket. In 1917, Houdini nearly suffocated while performing his "Living Burial". The next year, he made an elephant disappear before the New York Hippodrome's audiences' eyes. He made several movies, including "The Grim Game" and "The Master Mystery". In 1924, he wrote a book called "A Magician Among the Spirits".
In 1926, he stayed underwater in a sealed casket to beat Rahman Bey's record. In September, Harry started his second season, only to collapse in Detroit. He died on Halloween, at the age of 52.
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