Illusions, magic tricks, circus, spiritualism… In 1974 the world was waiting for the clues to his incredible abilities, in 1999 a musical based on the biography of this man was staged, in 2008 the film “Deadly Number” was released on US screens, also dedicated to him. On March 24, 2009, he would have turned 135 years old. It’s about an amazing person. Harry Houdini
Harry has performed card tricks publicly in entertainment venues since the age of 10. In 1892 he adopted the pseudonym Houdini, in honor of the French magician Robert-Houdin. Later, the name Harry was added to the surname in honor of Harry Kellar, although according to the testimony of relatives, already in childhood, friends called him Eri (Ehrie) or Harry (Harry). Initially toured the US with his brother. Houdini’s early career was dominated by self-liberation from handcuffs and water tanks. For promotional purposes, he practiced spectacular stunts that could be witnessed by whole crowds of onlookers. So, once he was hung in a bag from the eaves of a skyscraper, but successfully freed himself. On another occasion, he walked through a brick wall in front of many spectators. In 1903, he was thrown from a bridge into the Thames handcuffed and shackled with a 30-kilogram ball, but a few minutes later he surfaced, waving handcuffs.
During a tour of Europe and Russia in 1900, Houdini astounded London with The Disappearance of the Living Elephant, which he reproduced at the New York Hippodrome in 1918. prison and the Peter and Paul Fortress. This is how the authors of the book “From ancient magicians to modern day illusionists” describe this trick: “Locked in a prison cell, dressed in prison clothes, he came out two minutes later, opened the doors of neighboring cells and, for fun, switched prisoners. Then he entered the dressing room and fifteen minutes after being locked up, appeared in the guardroom, dressed in his suit. The elephant stood against a black velvet curtain; assistants covered him with a white veil, under which there was another, made of black velvet. At the sign of the illusionist, the white veil was pulled off, and the elephant, covered with a black veil, turned out to be invisible against a black background.
With age, staged tricks were given to Houdini more and more difficult. Even after successful performances, he repeatedly ended up in the hospital. Since 1910, he began acting in films. In the same year, he set the number for liberation from the muzzle of a cannon in a matter of seconds before the fuse worked. Interested in aviation, he bought a biplane and made the first ever flight over Australia. He also became close to former President Theodore Roosevelt. There were rumors that Houdini was connected with the American intelligence services and with Scotland Yard.
“Release from the bag”
Harry Houdini – Breaking free
Harry Houdini – milk can trick
In New York, Houdini showed an interesting trick: he took several handkerchiefs from the audience, put them in a bag and burned them. And then on the buses, the spectators went to the Statue of Liberty and at the very top, near the head, they found a box with “burnt” handkerchiefs, and the watchmen unanimously declared that no one had appeared on the island for the last six hours. All these tricks are very effective, some of them have not been solved so far.
Harry Houdini box diving trick
In the last decade of his career, Houdini published a number of books that revealed the secrets of his craft. He was seriously concerned that, under the influence of spiritualism popular in those years, many illusionists began to disguise their tricks with the appearance of communicating with otherworldly forces. Accompanied by a constable disguised as a civilian, Houdini began attending séances incognito in order to expose charlatans. The consequence was a break with an old comrade, Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a staunch adherent of spiritualism and revered Houdini for a very powerful medium.
The circumstances of Houdini’s death are shrouded in mystery. While touring in Montreal, he was relaxing in his dressing room, three students came in, one of whom was a college boxing champion, he asked Mr. Houdini if it was true that he could withstand several strong blows to the stomach without feeling anything, Houdini , immersed in his own thoughts, nodded, and the student unexpectedly gave the magician two or three blows. Houdini barely stopped him, wait, I need to prepare, he strained his press – now you can beat, the student hit a couple of times and felt Houdini’s iron abdominals on himself. Houdini rubbed his bruised spot from the first three unexpected blows. For several days, Houdini did not pay attention to the pain, but these blows provoked a rupture of the appendix. Harry Houdini died nine days later in Detroit on October 31, 1926.
After his death, newspapers wrote that a sealed package was stored in the safe of one of the old notary offices in New York, which, according to the artist’s will, should be opened on the day of the centenary of the birth of Harry Houdini. This package contains all the secrets of the illusionist: how he got out of a bolted box in London and from prison cells in Washington and Moscow, how handkerchiefs taken from the audience ended up inside the Statue of Liberty, and much more. The appointed day came, the safe was opened – it turned out to be empty. The great deceiver again deceived everyone