Read about the most greatest magician ever, Harry Houdini, Himself. Read about his magic life and how he made it big. Written in his words itís easy to follow along.
Surprisingly, I wasnít a success when I was a new magician. For the first five years I tried every type of magic to impress all ages. I tried card manipulations (manipulations mean a fast hand or skillful handling). People called me the king of card tricks. I tried illusions, such as the run off the mailbox escape. The definition of an illusion is making something seem real when it is not.
By 1896 I was ready to give it all up. I tried to sell all of my magic for $20.00. I had no takers. Nobody wanted the props or the secrets. This disappointed me.
One of my coolest tricks was the needle trick where I swallowed 2 dozen needles at once. All of the needles were threaded on the thread neatly. This was my most successful trick during my life. I would escape from handcuffs that were put on by a person from the audience. This showed that I didnít have it arranged ahead of time. The audience enjoyed this act.
By 1904, I was forced to make some changes in my acts. I would have police officers come up and put the handcuffs on me. The police officers would try to jam the cuffs to make me look bad. The officers were very surprised when I could get out of the handcuffs.
Until my success with the challenge act, I had even restored my spirit of magic to as high as possible. I gathered information from store clerks and cemeteries. This made my act more interesting, believable and convincing. The challenge act was the turning point of my career. This made me a legend.
During a visit to a psychiatrist, I saw my first straight jacket there. I was fascinated by it. I wanted to get suited up right away. I just didnít escape from the jacket; I escaped hanging upside down. I was hung from my ankles.
I then expanded my challenge act. I escaped from all kinds of things such as padlocked crates thrown into rivers, paper bags without making a rip in the bag, Chinese water torture cell, milk carton, and being buried alive.
The death of my mother changed my career. I wanted to try to talk to the dead. I also saw an opportunity to grab the attention of the public. I was able to duplicate the spirituals and their properties to make them twice as effective. My exposures became so popular that it took up more than a third of my show. Anna Eva Fay coached me (she was my psychiatrist friend).
I was credited for the invention of the improvement of the illusion escape, walking through a brick wall, being buried alive, needle trick, Chinese Water Torture Cell, and the straight jacket. I was also called the king of card tricks.
I owned a magic shop in New York called the Marking Magic Shop. I saved it from going bankrupt. During the day I would sell magic and magic books to inspire young magicians, and I would write autobiographies. I also was the president of the American Magicians. I was president during 1923 and 1924.
A special thanks to Scott Jackson who let us use his pictures for our autobiography on Houdini. Permission from e-mail ( 1/23/2001), Scott Jackson, Magictricks.com.