Harry Houdini In 'Chinese Water Torture Cell,' 1912

June 6, 2021

Harry Houdini's unbelievable exploits

Magic’s popularity has waxed and waned many times over the years, but in the early 20th century, Harry Houdini represented more than a magician. The mystical escape artist thrilled massive crowds all across the globe with his death-defying tricks and unbelievable escapes.

Houdini in the Chinese Water Torture Cell, 1912. (DURIEZ Frederic)

Despite his larger than life persona, he kept a level head about himself. The man no lock could hold in famously said shortly before his death, “No man is great while he is alive because the last day before his death he might do something that would discount all else of greatness in his career.” Houdini’s greatness enthralled the world so completely, more than a century after, we still talk about his unbelievable exploits.

Almost Faded Into Obscurity

Houdini in 1899 (Wiki)

Houdini was one to live by his words. Born Ehrich Weiss, he firmly believed that, “It is through neglect and laziness that a man fails. If he will plod and suffer and, if need be, die for his ambition, he cannot but help gain the fame he dreamed of.” As a youth, Houdini did a lot of plodding and nearly gave up his dreams of becoming a famous magician before vaudeville impresario Martin Beck booked him on a tour of Europe and the United States in 1899. Beck also gave Houdini the greatest advice of his career, which was to make escapes a central part of his act.