Master illusionist Harry Houdini was known for his dangerous escape acts that he performed in front of an audience. Apart from being an expert on his craft, what else do you know about him? Find out more on this edition of Fast Facts.
Harry Houdini, born Erich Weiss, was a magician who gained fame for his numerous escape acts. His interest in magic started upon seeing a travelling magician’s performance. When he was 17 years old, he opted to practice magic instead of being a factory worker. However, luck wasn’t on his side as it took several years before he gained success. When his career finally took off, he became popular for his ‘escape’ performances, such as the handcuff challenge, water torture cell escape, straitjacket escape, and several others.
- Harry Houdini became a film producer and actor in 1919 and starred in some silent films. He even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- He was also a pilot and was the first to fly a plane in Australia.
- Harry Houdini got married at the age of 19.
- A U.S. postage stamp featuring Harry Houdini has a hidden image. The hidden image can only be viewed with a lens from the post office. Unfortunately, the lens is no longer available. The hidden image reportedly shows the magician in chains.
- Harry Houdini nearly gave up on magic and even tried to sell his “magic secrets” for $20. Not a single person took him up on his offer.
- During World War I, Harry Houdini enlisted in the army when he was 43 years old. However, he was rejected due to his age.
- He received numerous death threats as a result of exposing people who used the art of magic to cheat people.
- Contrary to popular belief, he didn’t die because of one of his illusions. The cause of his death was actually from a ruptured appendix.
- Harry Houdini died on Halloween in 1926. He was 52 years old.
- A special ritual was started by the Society of American Magicians when Harry Houdini died. They performed the first Broken Wand Ceremony to symbolize the loss of someone who contributed a lot to the art of magic. Ever since, the Broken Wand Ceremony is performed whenever a prominent magician dies.
View photos of Harry Houdini below: