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The Life of Harry Houdini
Transcript of The Life of Harry Houdini
Mayer Samuel Weisz The Family
He married Cecilia Steiner In 1876, Mayer Weisz moved to the U.S. seeking job opportunities. The Move to the United States He changed his name to Weiss. And soon the entire family joined him. Ehrich was a natural athlete and performer. Early Years He became interested with magic. His first name, Harry, is an Americanized version of Ehrie, an old nickname. He took to researching magicians, and found a book on famous, french magician, Robert-Houdin. Ehrich Weiss became obsessed with Robert-Houdin, and eventually, by adding an "i", adopted Houdin's name as his own. Bess, or Beatrice Raymond, was an aspiring
singer and dancer before she met Houdini. Bess Raymond Though there are various accounts of how they met, their love was quick to bloom. Bess married Houdini on July 22nd, 1894.
She would then join his magic act. Building up a Reputation Houdini was always full of energy, spending most of his time making up or improving new tricks. He became a master of handcuff escapes, learning the inner workings of most models and their tricks to escaping them. He also learned the art of escaping from straight jackets. During the time, most escapists would escape from the jacket behind a curtain. Houdini was the first to perform these escapes in front of the crowd. Houdini began to have money troubles even after his act was signed on to the Orpheum Circuit,
a chain of vaudeville theaters. His Trip to Europe He and Bess decided to travel to Europe. Their first stop in London proved to be successful after Houdini disgraced a rival escape artist, P.H. Cirnoc. This gave Houdini much popularity. Houdini was given a one week engagement at
London's best vaudeville house, Alhambra. After his famous escape at Scotland
Yard, Houdini's engagement ended
up lasting 6 months. Houdini returned home in 1904. Now that he had conquered European audiences, it was time to move on to American audiences. Various Tricks in America In January, 1908, Houdini introduced his escape from a padlocked can at Columbia
Theatre in St. Louis. Today, this is known as his "Chinese Water Torture" trick. On January 7, 1918, Houdini performed his
"Vanishing Elephant" trick at the New York
Hippodrome. Houdini always said that his true greatest loves were his mother and wife. The Death of His Mother After arriving in Europe for another tour in 1913, Houdini recieved word that his mother had suffered a stroke and died the evening of July 16. Devestated, Houdini returned home immediately. Houdini mourned the loss of his mother for weeks. In 1909, Houdini became briefly fascinated with aviation. Houdini the Aviator He bought a French Voisin biplane for $5000. In March of 1910, Houdini completed a series of flights in Australia which were witnessed by magic and avation enthusiasts, newspaper reporters, and representatives from the Australian Aerial League. Houdini in Hollywood In 1918, Houdini starred in a movie entitled
"The Master of Mystery". The film was a success. With this success, Houdini decided to make other feature films. "The Grim Game" "Terror Island" "The Man from Beyond" and, "Haldane of the Secret Service" On October 21, 1926, Houdini gave a lecture at McGill University. The Death of Houdini There, an undergraduate art student showed Houdini a sketch of the magician. Houdini invited the student backstage with him for his next show. The artist and his two friends, one of which was named J. Gorden Whitehead, were invited into Houdini's dressing room. Houdini was sorting through his mail when Whitehead asked if it was true that Houdini could withstand any blow to the torso. Whitehead asked to punch Houdini, to which Houdini agreed. Before Houdini had time to prepare himself for the blow, Whitehead punched him three times. Houdini was severely injured.
The punches had burst his appendix. Houdini had shows to perform, and did not want to see a doctor. One night after a show, Houdini had to be taken to the hospital where he died from appendicitis on October 31, 1926. There was a two hour ceremony to which two thousand people attended. Houdini's Funeral Houdini was buried in Machpelah Cemetery on Long Island. Houdini changed the definition of "magician" for everyone during the 1920s. Houdini's Contributions to Society His remarkable feats and stunts were never seen before. Houdini was desired by all. His shows sold out. He was a wonder to the eye.
Nothing was impossible for him, and he made the world feel that way. Houdini wasn't a selfish person. Even in his final days, he put his audience before his own health. Houdini even donated to the poor and the sick. He played free shows for them. "Best wishes" -Harry Houdini, Feb 9, 1919