Categories: Art and Culture

Harry Houdini: A salute to the master of escapes on his birth anniversary – art and culture

Have you heard of the Houdini act? The phrase which means to escape gets its name from Harry Houdini. The Hungarian-born American is arguably the greatest illusionist of the modern times, known for his signature escape acts. Born in Budapest to a rabbi, Houdini was a lot more than just a magician.He performed in the circus early on in his life after coming to the US, along with performing his escape stunts for various television shows and movies. He also wrote books and was a fan of aviation.Born as Ehrich Weisz on March 24 in 1874, Houdini had taken this stage name after French magician Jean Eugene Robert Houdin. However, later the Hungarian wrote a book that criticized Robert Houdin’s skills as a magician.Throughout his life, Houdini devised newer and more complex cages to escape from. In 1908, he came up with the milk can trick. He would get handcuffed and sealed inside the large milk can filled with water. After this, he would stage his escape.He also had the ‘Chinese water torture cell’ as part of his dangerous acts. Houdini was reckless in his lifestyle and extremely proud of his abilities.1501137239, 0864926774He and his wife Beatrice Houdini, who served as his stage assistant, campaigned against people who boasted psychic abilities, like mind readers. The Houdinis claimed that all of the future and past telling was on the basis of simple tricks.He wrote two books on the subject – Miracle Mongers and Their Methods (1920) and A Magician Among the…


Have you heard of the Houdini act? The phrase which means to escape gets its name from Harry Houdini. The Hungarian-born American is arguably the greatest illusionist of the modern times, known for his signature escape acts.

Born in Budapest to a rabbi, Houdini was a lot more than just a magician.

He performed in the circus early on in his life after coming to the US, along with performing his escape stunts for various television shows and movies. He also wrote books and was a fan of aviation.

Born as Ehrich Weisz on March 24 in 1874, Houdini had taken this stage name after French magician Jean Eugene Robert Houdin. However, later the Hungarian wrote a book that criticized Robert Houdin’s skills as a magician.

Throughout his life, Houdini devised newer and more complex cages to escape from. In 1908, he came up with the milk can trick. He would get handcuffed and sealed inside the large milk can filled with water. After this, he would stage his escape.

He also had the ‘Chinese water torture cell’ as part of his dangerous acts. Houdini was reckless in his lifestyle and extremely proud of his abilities.

1501137239, 0864926774

He and his wife Beatrice Houdini, who served as his stage assistant, campaigned against people who boasted psychic abilities, like mind readers. The Houdinis claimed that all of the future and past telling was on the basis of simple tricks.

He wrote two books on the subject – Miracle Mongers and Their Methods (1920) and A Magician Among the Spirits (1924). The duo even promised to reach out to the other after one of them died.

After Houdini’s death in 1926 due to a ruptured appendix, Beatrice held a seance (an attempt to communicate with spirits) every year to see if Houdini contacted her from the other side. She stopped the practice after the 10th failed attempt.

Houdini knew how to keep his tricks exclusive. He had the ‘Chinese water torture cell’, his most famous act, copyrighted.

In this performance, the magician is lowered upside down into a water-filled tank while his feet remained locked together. He has to escape within a particular time.

As one could not copyright magic tricks, Houdini first performed the act as a part of a play and applied for the drama’s copyright. Thereon, he used to sue anyone who tried on a similar act.

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Published by
Juhi Chandra

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