The Master of Escape – The Life of Houdini
Houdini is the greatest Man of Mystery to have ever lived. He astounded and awed audiences with his escape from his greatest trick, the Chinese Water Torture Cell. No one could figure out how this Man of Mystery managed to escape time after time from his many different predicaments. Each trick seemed to just be a game to this man, each daring escapade just another task he made look easy. There is a lot more to this man than just meets the eye, though.
Harry Houdini was actually born as Erich Weisz, “Harry Houdini” comes from his childhood nickname “Ehrie” and homage to Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. He was born in Hungary, though after he moved, he claimed to be born in Appleton, Wisconsin. He was always quite fascinated with the game of magic and he began to perform, drawing crowds and attention as he managed to wriggle his way out of trap after trap.
He married Wilhelmina (Beatrice “Bess” Houdini) Rahner, who actually became his onstage partner as well as his partner in life. The magic in the air around him translated into their marriage as well, and they were lifelong performers.
Other than his magical talents, Houdini had many other interests to keep him preoccupied. Among these interests, Houdini enjoyed aviation and film. In 1909, he actually purchased a plane and was attempting to become the first to complete a controlled power flight over Australia. He did complete it but was more than likely beaten by Capt. Colin Defries. In his film passions, Houdini launched a career on the big screen. His first film, Merveilleux Exploits du Célébre Houdini Paris, was released in 1901, and showed off his marvelous escapes. He was the star of several other films and later started his own production company in New York, Houdini Picture Corporation, and had his own film lab, The Film Development Corporation. Sadly, both of these failed though he did become the president of Martinka & Co., which is America’s oldest magic company.
There is a lot of questions surrounding Houdini’s death. The only known fact is he died of peritonitis from his appendix rupturing on October 31, 1926. He was 52 at the time of his death and still performing his amazing stunts. It is unclear whether a student was testing the strength of Houdini’s stomach and punched him or if he was poisoned by a group of angry Spiritualists. However he came to his demise, he left a huge legacy and a hole in the world of magic that no one has yet filled completely.