Houdini: The Ultimate Spellbinder
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He was born Ehrich Weiss but, at an early age, he chose another name for himself. He wanted a name to suit his career of magic and entertainment and he chose a name that paid homage to one of the legendary magicians of all time: Robert Houdin. His illusions and escapes were more astonishing and more challenging than anyone had ever done before and he eclipsed the names of all other magicians as his fame reached around the world, made him famous and made him the most famous illusionist ever.
Houdini disappeared through brick walls. He escaped from straitjackets and then straitjackets immersed in water. He performed escapes in public places and from jail cells in major cities--and the crowds flocked to his performances.
Tom Lalicki tells Houdini's story with a fascinating mix of text and images, revealing the facts and juxtaposing them with startling images of a master entertainer performing masterfully and mysteriously, mesmerizing his audiences and mystifying experts with his skill and his invention.
was able to produce the correct slate. Very skillful hocus-pocus, indeed. Houdini was so proud to be photographed with President Theodore Roosevelt that he had an airbrush artist remove the other five people from the photograph. He gave away thousands of the version showing Houdini alone with Roosevelt. Ship-to-shore radio screamed "Houdini!" However, the Roosevelt "demonstration" shared front pages with rumors of a coming European war. Months later, in August 1914, the Great War, also
Civil War (1861-65), America's population was growing and becoming more urban. Before the war, about six million Americans lived in cities; by 1900 the number was over thirty million. The number of cities with populations of more than fifty thousand people mushroomed, too: from sixteen before the Civil War to seventy-eight by 1900. The growth of cities was fueled by the Industrial Revolution. Factories that turned out such modern conveniences as ready-to-wear clothes, canned food, and bicycles
needed laborers. While most of the immigrant workers filling the cities had little money or leisure time, factory managers, office workers, and professionals did. But cities in the 1890s offered few recreational activities. Without cars or public transportation, people were limited to their neighborhoods. Without television, radio, or CDs, families had to entertain themselves. Even telephones were too expensive for most people. Nickelodeons showed primitive movies that were brief, not very
Houdini in action, thirty-seven reviews of his act and the addresses of his British and American agents. None ever did. Houdini's ability to open any lock was, simply, magical. There have always been people who claimed to explain how Houdini did the handcuff escapes: He carried hidden keys, Bess passed keys to him when she kissed him onstage, he had lock picks or tiny pieces of wire hidden on his naked body. There are hundreds of explanations, but none is true beyond doubt. One of his most
the keys hidden to open all the locks the German police had used in 1900? Hardly! Two of the cornerstones of Houdini's success were his pride and his work ethic. An almost desperate fear of failing in public made him work fanatically to succeed. Houdini holds a copy of The Illustrated Mirror handcuffs — probably the most complicated set of cuffs ever made. Seventy-five newspapers wrote stories about his incredible escape from them. Houdini practiced opening locks incessantly. He even