Harry Houdini - Illusionist, Family and Life

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Harry Houdini's Personal Details

Hungarian-born Harry Houdini was a legendary magician, famous for his exceptional escape stunts

InformationDetail
BirthdayMarch 24, 1874
Died onOctober 31, 1926
NationalityHungarian
FamousIllusionist, Miscellaneous, Aviators, Magicians, ESTP
HobbiesHandcuffs
SpousesBess Houdini
SiblingsCarrie Gladys, Gottfried William, Herman M., Leopold D., Nathan J., Theodore Hardeen
Known asErik Weisz, Ehrich Weiss, Harry Weiss
Founder / Co-Founder
  • Society of American Magicians
Birth PlaceBudapest
ReligionJudaism
GenderMale
FatherMayer Samuel Weisz
MotherCecelia Weisz
Sun SignAries
Born inBudapest
Famous asIllusionist
Died at Age52

// Famous Illusionist

Harry Houdini's photo

Who is Harry Houdini?

Harry Houdini, born as Erik Weisz, was the world’s most celebrated magician who enthralled audiences through his daring and unbelievable escape feats. This Hungarian-born American escape artist knew how to draw attention, by claiming to release himself from any kind of prison, leg-iron, steel lock, and chain. Fascinated by the French magician Jean Robert-Houdin, Harry Houdini, not only stepped into the latter’s shoes, but also adopted his surname in embarking a flourishing, money-making career. This master of illusion became an international sensation for his ability to extricate himself from assorted locked containers, right from prison cells to milk cans to airtight coffins. His fantastic stunts added to his great illusion career, with his underwater box escape being considered as one of his most remarkable tricks ever performed. His other prominent acts included Daily Mirror challenge, milk can escape, Chinese water torture cell, and buried alive stunt. Besides his near-death escapes and heart-pumping acts, he gave acting and directing a try, but wasn’t able to achieve much success in it. What’s more, as a passionate aviator, he bought his own aircraft and became the first person to fly a plane in Australia. In fact, he desired to be remembered as an aviation pioneer more than a legendary escapologist.

// Famous Magicians

Childhood & Early Life

Harry Houdini was born as Erik Weisz on March 24, 1874 in Budapest, Hungary, as one of the six kids, to Rabbi Mayer Samuel Weisz and his second wife, Cecilia Steiner Weisz.

His family immigrated to the United States in 1878 and started living in Appleton, Wisconsin, where they changed their surname to German ‘Weiss’, while his name was modified to ‘Ehrich’.

In 1887, the family then relocated to New York City, where he took up odd jobs to support his family and developed an interest in trapeze arts.

He started performing as a magician in dime museums, sideshows and circuses in 1891 but didn’t see much success. He then took up escape acts using handcuffs.

Career

Harry Houdini started earning recognition in 1899 when he performed the handcuffs act, escaping from prisons, at the best vaudeville venues, arranged by entertainment manager Martin Beck. These acts made him the highest-paid performer in US shows.

He performed throughout the United States during the early 1900s, increasing the repertoire of his acts. His acts included escaping from handcuffs to straitjackets, coffins, nail packing crates, and locked, water-filled tanks.

He took his show to Europe and after initial struggle, he was sponsored by Dundas Slater who booked his escape acts at the Alhambra Theatre for six months.

His uncanny strength and quick thinking to get hold of locks took him to Scotland, France, Germany, England, Russia, and Netherlands, where he was locked by the local police in jails and made successful escapes.

He debuted in filmmaking with a documentary of his escapes ‘Merveilleux Exploits du Celebre Houdini Paris’ (1901) and acted in a variety of movies, such as ‘The Grim Game’, ‘The Master Mystery’, Terror Island’ and ‘The Man From Beyond’.

He launched his production company Houdini Picture Corporation and started a film lab, The Film Development Corporation; however, none of them turned fruitful.

He authored the ‘Handcuff Secrets’ in 1909, which illustrated tricks for opening locks and handcuffs by applying proper force or using concealed lockpicks, shoestrings and keys.

His love for aviation urged him to buy a French-made Voisin biplane in 1909 and he became the first person to make a successful controlled power flight over Australia soil in 1910.

His literary career saw the release of several books, like ‘Miracle Mongers and Their Methods’ (1920), ‘Magical Rope Ties and Escapes’ (1920), ‘Houdini’s Paper Magic’ (1921), and ‘A Magician Among the Spirits’ (1924).

By persuading local magic clubs to join the Society of American Magicians (SAM) in various US cities, he went on to create the world’s richest and longest-surviving organization of magicians, in 1916.

During 1925-26, he introduced his full evening-show, ‘Three Shows in One: Magic, Escapes and Fraud Mediums Exposed’

Major Works

As a challenge by London’s Daily Mirror in 1904, he went on to unlock the special handcuffs, built by a Birmingham locksmith in five years, after a 90-minute struggle and deemed it as his career’s most difficult escape.

He invented the Milk Can escape in 1908, where he was handcuffed and locked inside an over-sized milk can, filled with water (later replaced with milk), and advertised it as ‘Failure Means a Drowning Death’.

Among his most infamous stunts was the underwater box escape introduced in 1912, wherein he took 57 seconds to unlock the handcuffs and leg-irons, and escape from a crate loaded with 200 pounds of lead and immersed in water.

In 1912, he started the Chinese Water Torture Cell. In this act, he was suspended upside-down in a locked glass-and-steel cabinet filled with water and held his breath for over three minutes to escape.

By remaining submerged in a sealed bronze coffin for one-and-half hour in 1926, he broke Egyptian performer Rahman Bey’s record of one hour, claiming to have breathed quietly without using any trick or supernatural power.

Awards & Achievements

Harry Houdini became the President of the Society of American Magicians in 1917 and held this position till his death in 1926.

He was made the President of America’s oldest magic company, Martinka & Co. in 1923.

He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 7001 Hollywood Boulevard, posthumously in 1975.

Personal Life & Legacy

Harry Houdini married his fellow performer, Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, in 1893, after which she continued to work as his partner onstage as Beatrice ‘Bess’ Houdini.

He was operated on a ruptured appendix on October 24, 1926 at Grace Hospital, Detroit, and contracted peritonitis. While undergoing a second surgery and an experimental serum, he died on October 31, 1926, at the age of 52.

He was transported from Detroit to New York in the bronze casket which was designed for his yet-to-happen buried alive stunt in 1927.

He was buried at the Machpelah Cemetery in Glendale, Queens, on November 4, 1926 in the presence of 2,000 mourners. His grave site was inscribed with a crest of the ‘Society of American Magicians’.

Trivia

After becoming a professional magician, he changed his first name from Ehrich to Harry and adopted the surname Houdini after the great French magician, Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin

// Famous people with ESTP

Harry Houdini biography timelines

  • // 24th Mar 1874
    Harry Houdini was born as Erik Weisz on March 24, 1874 in Budapest, Hungary, as one of the six kids, to Rabbi Mayer Samuel Weisz and his second wife, Cecilia Steiner Weisz.
  • // 1878
    His family immigrated to the United States in 1878 and started living in Appleton, Wisconsin, where they changed their surname to German ‘Weiss’, while his name was modified to ‘Ehrich’.
  • // 1887
    In 1887, the family then relocated to New York City, where he took up odd jobs to support his family and developed an interest in trapeze arts.
  • // 1891
    He started performing as a magician in dime museums, sideshows and circuses in 1891 but didn’t see much success. He then took up escape acts using handcuffs.
  • // 1893
    Harry Houdini married his fellow performer, Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, in 1893, after which she continued to work as his partner onstage as Beatrice ‘Bess’ Houdini.
  • // 1899
    Harry Houdini started earning recognition in 1899 when he performed the handcuffs act, escaping from prisons, at the best vaudeville venues, arranged by entertainment manager Martin Beck. These acts made him the highest-paid performer in US shows.
  • // 1901
    He debuted in filmmaking with a documentary of his escapes ‘Merveilleux Exploits du Celebre Houdini Paris’ (1901) and acted in a variety of movies, such as ‘The Grim Game’, ‘The Master Mystery’, Terror Island’ and ‘The Man From Beyond’.
  • // 1904
    As a challenge by London’s Daily Mirror in 1904, he went on to unlock the special handcuffs, built by a Birmingham locksmith in five years, after a 90-minute struggle and deemed it as his career’s most difficult escape.
  • // 1908
    He invented the Milk Can escape in 1908, where he was handcuffed and locked inside an over-sized milk can, filled with water (later replaced with milk), and advertised it as ‘Failure Means a Drowning Death’.
  • // 1909
    He authored the ‘Handcuff Secrets’ in 1909, which illustrated tricks for opening locks and handcuffs by applying proper force or using concealed lockpicks, shoestrings and keys.
  • // 1909 To 1910
    His love for aviation urged him to buy a French-made Voisin biplane in 1909 and he became the first person to make a successful controlled power flight over Australia soil in 1910.
  • // 1912
    Among his most infamous stunts was the underwater box escape introduced in 1912, wherein he took 57 seconds to unlock the handcuffs and leg-irons, and escape from a crate loaded with 200 pounds of lead and immersed in water.
  • // 1912
    In 1912, he started the Chinese Water Torture Cell. In this act, he was suspended upside-down in a locked glass-and-steel cabinet filled with water and held his breath for over three minutes to escape.
  • // 1916
    By persuading local magic clubs to join the Society of American Magicians (SAM) in various US cities, he went on to create the world’s richest and longest-surviving organization of magicians, in 1916.
  • // 1917 To 1926
    Harry Houdini became the President of the Society of American Magicians in 1917 and held this position till his death in 1926.
  • // 1920 To 1924
    His literary career saw the release of several books, like ‘Miracle Mongers and Their Methods’ (1920), ‘Magical Rope Ties and Escapes’ (1920), ‘Houdini’s Paper Magic’ (1921), and ‘A Magician Among the Spirits’ (1924).
  • // 1923
    He was made the President of America’s oldest magic company, Martinka & Co. in 1923.
  • // 1925 To 1926
    During 1925-26, he introduced his full evening-show, ‘Three Shows in One: Magic, Escapes and Fraud Mediums Exposed’
  • // 1926
    By remaining submerged in a sealed bronze coffin for one-and-half hour in 1926, he broke Egyptian performer Rahman Bey’s record of one hour, claiming to have breathed quietly without using any trick or supernatural power.
  • // 31st Oct 1926
    He was operated on a ruptured appendix on October 24, 1926 at Grace Hospital, Detroit, and contracted peritonitis. While undergoing a second surgery and an experimental serum, he died on October 31, 1926, at the age of 52.
  • // 4th Nov 1926
    He was buried at the Machpelah Cemetery in Glendale, Queens, on November 4, 1926 in the presence of 2,000 mourners. His grave site was inscribed with a crest of the ‘Society of American Magicians’.
  • // 1927
    He was transported from Detroit to New York in the bronze casket which was designed for his yet-to-happen buried alive stunt in 1927.
  • // 1975
    He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 7001 Hollywood Boulevard, posthumously in 1975.

// Famous Miscellaneous

Harry Houdini's FAQ

  • What is Harry Houdini birthday?

    Harry Houdini was born at 1874-03-24

  • When was Harry Houdini died?

    Harry Houdini was died at 1926-10-31

  • Where was Harry Houdini died?

    Harry Houdini was died in Detroit

  • Which age was Harry Houdini died?

    Harry Houdini was died at age 52

  • Where is Harry Houdini's birth place?

    Harry Houdini was born in Budapest

  • What is Harry Houdini nationalities?

    Harry Houdini's nationalities is Hungarian

  • What is Harry Houdini hobbies?

    Harry Houdini's hobbies is Handcuffs

  • Who is Harry Houdini spouses?

    Harry Houdini's spouses is Bess Houdini

  • Who is Harry Houdini siblings?

    Harry Houdini's siblings is Carrie Gladys, Gottfried William, Herman M., Leopold D., Nathan J., Theodore Hardeen

  • Which company or organization was founded by Harry Houdini?

    Harry Houdini was the founder/co-founder of Society of American Magicians

  • What is Harry Houdini's religion?

    Harry Houdini's religion is Judaism

  • Who is Harry Houdini's father?

    Harry Houdini's father is Mayer Samuel Weisz

  • Who is Harry Houdini's mother?

    Harry Houdini's mother is Cecelia Weisz

  • What is Harry Houdini's sun sign?

    Harry Houdini is Aries

  • How famous is Harry Houdini?

    Harry Houdini is famouse as Illusionist