by Isaiah Koch

Houdini’s first performances 

Houdini first began performing as a teenager. He called himself Eric the Great. He moved to New York at age 13.  Living in New York changed his life. He found new magic tricks and was performing before big audiences. His family moved to New York to find a better life.  As a teenager he read a book called “Revelations of a Spirit Medium”. It told how to do many tricks. Another book he read was called “The Memoirs of Robert-Houdin”. Eric Weiss changed his name to Houdini.  Many of his first magic shows consisted of simple tricks like card tricks. The “King of Cards” was another name Houdini had. 

The Escape Artist 

Houdini experimented with handcuffs and that became a part of his acts. Harry and his brother Theo began performing together. Including performing at Chicago’s World Fair. Houdini began offering awards to people who could restrain him. He escaped from handcuffs, leg irons, strait jackets, jails, male pouches, packing crates, a giant football, an iron boiler, milk cans, coffins and the famous Water Torture Cell. To sell more tickets Houdini would often use police stations to draw attention. 

Chinese Water Torture and other tricks. 

The Chinese water Torture was Houdini’s first major escape. 1913 was the height of this trick. After this he began more difficult and dangerous escapes. In 1918 at the Hippodrome in New York City Houdini was the first to stage a large illusion. He made a 10,000 pound elephant disappear. Houdini’s other tricks include fake drowning and other underwater stunts. He would practice in his bathtub and could hold his breath for over four minutes. 

Houdini’s Death 

People could punch Houdini in the stomach. When he tightened his stomach muscles he could withstand any punch. This trick would backfire on him on October 22, 1926. Houdini was at McGill University when a young student punched him before he could tighten his muscles. Houdini did not know it but his appendix had been ruptured by the punch. Houndini did a few more performances before he died from this.