118 Facts About Harry Houdini


Harry Houdini was an American escape artist, magic man, and stunt performer, noted for his escape acts.


Harry Houdini's pseudonym is a reference to his spiritual master, French magician Robert-Houdin.


Harry Houdini first attracted notice in vaudeville in the United States and then as "Harry 'Handcuff' Houdini" on a tour of Europe, where he challenged police forces to keep him locked up.


Harry Houdini was quick to sue anyone who imitated his escape stunts.


Harry Houdini made several movies but quit acting when it failed to bring in money.


Harry Houdini was a keen aviator and aimed to become the first man to fly a powered aircraft in Australia.


Harry Houdini was joined by the rest of the family once Rabbi Weiss found permanent housing.


Harry Houdini was a champion cross country runner in his youth.


When he was a teenager, Harry Houdini was coached by the magician Joseph Rinn at the Pastime Athletic Club.


Harry Houdini began his magic career in 1891, but had little success.


Harry Houdini appeared in a tent act with strongman Emil Jarrow.


Harry Houdini performed in dime museums and sideshows, and even doubled as "The Wild Man" at a circus.


In 1894, Harry Houdini met a fellow performer, Wilhelmina Beatrice "Bess" Rahner.


Harry Houdini was introduced to William Melville and gave a demonstration of escape from handcuffs at Scotland Yard.


Harry Houdini succeeded in baffling the police so effectively that he was booked at the Alhambra for six months.


Harry Houdini's show was an immediate hit and his salary rose to $300 a week.


Harry Houdini toured the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Russia and became widely known as "The Handcuff King".


In each city, Harry Houdini challenged local police to restrain him with shackles and lock him in their jails.


Harry Houdini won the case when he opened the judge's safe.


Harry Houdini then arranged a grand reception where he presented his mother in the dress to all their relatives.


Harry Houdini did not receive permission but still visited the grave.


In 1906, Harry Houdini created his own publication, the Conjurers' Monthly Magazine.


From 1907 and throughout the 1910s, Harry Houdini performed with great success in the United States.


Harry Houdini freed himself from jails, handcuffs, chains, ropes, and straitjackets, often while hanging from a rope in sight of street audiences.


Harry Houdini expanded his repertoire with his escape challenge act, in which he invited the public to devise contraptions to hold him.


Brewers in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and other cities challenged Harry Houdini to escape from a barrel after they filled it with beer.


Rather than promote the idea that he was assisted by spirits, as did the Davenport Brothers and others, Harry Houdini's advertisements showed him making his escapes via dematerializing, although Harry Houdini himself never claimed to have supernatural powers.


Harry Houdini introduced the Chinese Water Torture Cell at the Circus Busch in Berlin, Germany, on September 21,1912.


Harry Houdini was suspended upside-down in a locked glass-and-steel cabinet full to overflowing with water, holding his breath for more than three minutes.


Harry Houdini would go on performing this escape for the rest of his life.


Harry Houdini's straitjacket escape was originally performed behind curtains, with him popping out free at the end.


Harry Houdini's brother discovered that audiences were more impressed when the curtains were eliminated so they could watch him struggle to get out.


For most of his career, Harry Houdini was a headline act in vaudeville.


Harry Houdini had purchased this trick from the magician Charles Morritt.


Harry Houdini sought to create a large, unified national network of professional and amateur magicians.


Harry Houdini persuaded groups in Buffalo, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City to join.


Harry Houdini dined with, addressed, and got pledges from similar clubs in Detroit, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Cincinnati and elsewhere.


Harry Houdini had created the richest and longest-surviving organization of magicians in the world.


In July 1926, Harry Houdini was elected for the ninth successive time President of the Society of American Magicians.


Harry Houdini was President of the Magicians' Club of London.


In 1904, the London Daily Mirror newspaper challenged Harry Houdini to escape from special handcuffs that it claimed had taken Nathaniel Hart, a locksmith from Birmingham, five years to make.


The escape attempt dragged on for over an hour, during which Harry Houdini emerged from his "ghost house" several times.


Harry Houdini promptly took out a penknife and, holding it in his teeth, used it to cut his coat from his body.


At the time, Harry Houdini said it had been one of the most difficult escapes of his career.


In 1908, Harry Houdini introduced his own original act, the Milk Can Escape.


Harry Houdini soon modified the escape to include the milk can being locked inside a wooden chest, being chained or padlocked.


Harry Houdini performed the milk can escape as a regular part of his act for only four years, but it has remained one of the acts most associated with him.


Around 1912, the vast number of imitators prompted Harry Houdini to replace his milk can act with the Chinese water torture cell.


The original cell was built in England, where Harry Houdini first performed the escape for an audience of one person as part of a one-act play he called "Harry Houdini Upside Down".


Harry Houdini continued to perform the escape until his death in 1926.


In many cases, Harry Houdini drew tens of thousands of onlookers who brought city traffic to a halt.


In New York City, Harry Houdini performed the suspended straitjacket escape from a crane being used to build the subway.


Harry Houdini first performed the escape in New York's East River on July 7,1912.


Harry Houdini was locked in handcuffs and leg-irons, then nailed into the crate which was roped and weighed down with two hundred pounds of lead.


Harry Houdini performed this escape many times, and even performed a version on stage, first at Hamerstein's Roof Garden where a 5,500-US-gallon tank was specially built, and later at the New York Hippodrome.


Harry Houdini performed at least three variations on a buried alive stunt during his career.


Harry Houdini was buried, without a casket, in a pit of earth six feet deep.


Harry Houdini became exhausted and panicked while trying to dig his way to the surface and called for help.


Harry Houdini wrote in his diary that the escape was "very dangerous" and that "the weight of the earth is killing".


Harry Houdini's second variation on buried alive was an endurance test designed to expose mystical Egyptian performer Rahman Bey, who had claimed to use supernatural powers to remain in a sealed casket for an hour.


Harry Houdini bettered Bey on August 5,1926, by remaining in a sealed casket, or coffin, submerged in the swimming pool of New York's Hotel Shelton for one and a half hours.


Harry Houdini claimed he did not use any trickery or supernatural powers to accomplish this feat, just controlled breathing.


Harry Houdini repeated the feat at the YMCA in Worcester, Massachusetts on September 28,1926, this time remaining sealed for one hour and eleven minutes.


Harry Houdini's final buried alive was an elaborate stage escape that featured in his full evening show.


Harry Houdini would escape after being strapped in a straitjacket, sealed in a casket, and then buried in a large tank filled with sand.


The stunt was to be the feature escape of his 1927 season, but Harry Houdini died on October 31,1926.


The bronze casket Harry Houdini created for buried alive was used to transport Harry Houdini's body from Detroit to New York following his death on Halloween.


In 1906, Harry Houdini started showing films of his outside escapes as part of his vaudeville act.


In 1909, Harry Houdini made a film in Paris for Cinema Lux titled Merveilleux Exploits du Celebre Harry Houdini a Paris.


That same year Harry Houdini got an offer to star as Captain Nemo in a silent version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but the project never made it into production.


In 1918, Houdini signed a contract with film producer B A Rolfe to star in a 15-part serial, The Master Mystery.


Publicity was geared heavily toward promoting this dramatic "caught on film" moment, claiming it was Harry Houdini himself dangling from the plane.


Harry Houdini produced and starred in two films, The Man from Beyond and Haldane of the Secret Service.


Harry Houdini founded his own film laboratory business called The Film Development Corporation, gambling on a new process for developing motion picture film.


Harry Houdini resided in 2435 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, a residence owned by Ralph M Walker.


The Harry Houdini Estate is subject to controversy, in that it is disputed whether Harry Houdini ever actually made it his home.


Harry Houdini purchased a French Voisin biplane for $5,000 from the Chilean aviators Jose Luis Sanchez-Besa and Emilio Eduardo Bello, and hired a full-time mechanic, Antonio Brassac.


On Friday, March 18,1910, following more than a month of delays due to inclement weather conditions, Harry Houdini completed one of the first powered aeroplane flights ever made in Australia.


On Monday morning, 21 March 1910, some 30 spectators witnessed Harry Houdini make an extended flight at Diggers Rest of 7min.


In March 1938, Wing Commander Harry Houdini Cobby wrote, in Aircraft, in March 1938 that "the first aeroplane flight in the Southern Hemisphere was made on December 9,1909, by Mr Colin Defries, a Londoner, at Victoria Park Racecourse, Sydney, in a Wilbur Wright aeroplane".


Harry Houdini announced he would use it to fly from city to city during his next music hall tour and even promised to leap from it handcuffed, but he never flew again.


Harry Houdini was a member of a Scientific American committee that offered a cash prize to any medium who could successfully demonstrate supernatural abilities.


Harry Houdini investigated the Italian medium Nino Pecoraro, whom he considered to be fraudulent.


Doyle came to believe that Harry Houdini was a powerful spiritualist medium and had performed many of his stunts by means of paranormal abilities and was using those abilities to block the powers of the mediums that he was supposedly debunking.


Harry Houdini did claim to have contact through Arthur Ford in 1929 when Ford conveyed the secret code, but Bess later said the incident had been faked.


The tradition of holding a seance for Harry Houdini continues, held by magicians throughout the world.


The Official Harry Houdini Seance was organized in the 1940s by Sidney Hollis Radner, a Harry Houdini aficionado from Holyoke, Massachusetts.


Yearly Houdini seances are conducted in Chicago at the Excalibur nightclub by "necromancer" Neil Tobin on behalf of the Chicago Assembly of the Society of American Magicians; and at the Houdini Museum in Scranton by magician Dorothy Dietrich, who previously held them at New York's Magic Towne House with such magical notables as Houdini biographers Walter B Gibson and Milbourne Christopher.


Gibson was asked by Bess Harry Houdini to carry on the original seance tradition.


Harry Houdini had earlier asked Lovecraft to write an article about astrology, for which he paid $75.


Harry Houdini's death derailed the plans, as his widow did not wish to pursue the project.


Unlike the image of the classic magician, Harry Houdini was short and stocky and typically appeared on stage in a long frock coat and tie.


Harry Houdini was said to be slightly bow-legged, which aided in his ability to gain slack during his rope escapes.


Harry Houdini made the only known recordings of his voice on Edison wax cylinders on October 29,1914, in Flatbush, New York.


Harry Houdini invites his sister, Gladys, to recite a poem.


Harry Houdini became an active Freemason and was a member of St Cecile Lodge No 568 in New York City.


In 1904, Harry Houdini bought a New York City townhouse at 278 West 113th Street in Harlem.


Harry Houdini paid US$25,000 for the five-level, 6,008-square-foot house, which was built in 1895, and lived in it with his wife Bess, and various other relatives until his death in 1926.


Harry Houdini resided in 2435 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, a house of his friend and business associate Ralph M Walker, who owned both sides of the street, 2335 and 2400, the latter address having a pool where Houdini practiced his water escapes.


Harry Houdini offered a casual reply that his stomach could endure a lot.


Harry Houdini was reclining on a couch at the time, having broken his ankle while performing several days earlier.


Price said that Harry Houdini winced at each blow and stopped Whitehead suddenly in the midst of a punch, gesturing that he had had enough, and adding that he had had no opportunity to prepare himself against the blows, as he did not expect Whitehead to strike him so suddenly and forcefully.


Harry Houdini was unable to sleep and remained in constant pain for the next two days, but did not seek medical help.


Harry Houdini ignored the advice and decided to go on with the show.


Harry Houdini was reported to have passed out during the show, but was revived and continued.


One theory suggests that Harry Houdini was unaware that he was suffering from appendicitis, and he might have taken his abdominal pain more seriously had he not coincidentally received blows to the abdomen.


Harry Houdini's funeral was held on November 4,1926, in New York, with more than 2,000 mourners in attendance.


Harry Houdini was interred in the Machpelah Cemetery in Glendale, Queens, with the crest of the Society of American Magicians inscribed on his grave site.


Harry Houdini is not only a magical icon; his gravesite bears the seal of The Society of American Magicians.


Harry Houdini served as President from 1917 until his death in 1926.


Harry Houdini's will stipulated that all the effects should be "burned and destroyed" upon Hardeen's death.


Many of the props contained in the museum such as the mirror handcuffs, Harry Houdini's original packing crate, a milk can, and a straitjacket, survived the fire and were auctioned in 1999 and 2008.


Harry Houdini was a "formidable collector", and bequeathed many of his holdings and paper archives on magic and spiritualism to the Library of Congress, which became the basis for the Harry Houdini collection in cyberspace.


Harry Houdini's book collecting has been explored in an essay in The Book Collector.


The extensive Harry Houdini collection includes a 1584 first edition of Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft and David Garrick's travel diary to Paris from 1751.


Some scrapbooks in the Harry Houdini collection have been digitized.


The Magic Castle in Los Angeles, California, a nightclub for magicians and magic enthusiasts, as well as the clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts, features Harry Houdini seances performed by magician Misty Lee.


The House of Harry Houdini is a museum and performance venue located at 11, Disz square in the Buda Castle in Budapest, Hungary.