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Harry Houdini

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Harry Houdini (1920)
Author: Unknown


Where was Harry Houdini born?

Harry Houdini was born on March 24, 1874 in Budapest, Hungary. When he was four years old his family moved to the United States. They lived in Wisconsin for a while and then moved to New York City.

What was his real name?

Harry Houdini's real name was Ehrich Weiss. He started using the name "Harry Houdini" as a stage name in 1894. The name "Harry" came from his childhood nickname "Ehrie." The name "Houdini" came from one of his favorite musicians, a Frenchman with the last name Houdin. He added the "i" to "Houdin" and he had the name Harry Houdini.

Early Career

Houdini in Handcuffs by Unknown
Source: Library of Congress
Harry worked various odd jobs to help out the family while growing up. He worked as a locksmith for a time where he became an expert at picking locks (this skill would come in handy later). Young Harry always had an interest in magic and performing. Around the age of seventeen he began doing a magic show with his brother "Dash" called "The Brothers Houdini." Harry would spend hours working on magic tricks and practicing quick hand movements.

A New Partner

While Harry and his brother were working at Coney Island, Harry met a dancer named Bess. They fell in love and married a year later. Bess and Harry started their own magic act called "The Houdinis." For the rest of his career, Bess would act as Harry's assistant.

Tour of Europe

Upon the advice of his manager, Martin Beck, Harry began to focus his act on escapes. He would escape from all sorts of things like handcuffs, straitjackets, and ropes. He then traveled to England to perform. At first, he had little success. Then he challenged the English police at Scotland Yard to an escape. The police searched Harry thoroughly and handcuffed him inside a cell. They were sure they had him secure. However, Houdini escaped in a matter of a few minutes. They couldn't believe it! Now Harry was famous and everyone wanted to see his amazing escapes.

Famous Escapes and Illusions

Harry traveled around Europe and then returned to the United States performing all sorts of dangerous escapes and amazing illusions. These escapes made him the most famous magician in the world.
Later Life and Career

In his later life, Houdini took on many other activities such as making movies, learning to fly an airplane, and debunking psychics (proving they were fake).


One night before a show in Montreal, Canada, two young men visited Houdini backstage. Rumor had it that Houdini was invincible to blows to the body. One of the students decided to test out this rumor and punched Houdini in the stomach. A few days later, on October 31, 1926 (Halloween), Houdini died from a ruptured appendix.

Interesting Facts about Harry Houdini Activities

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