Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini
HarryHoudini1899.jpg
Houdini in 1899
Born
Erik Weisz

(1874-03-24)March 24, 1874
DiedOctober 31, 1926(1926-10-31) (aged 52)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Cause of deathPeritonitis[1]
OccupationIllusionist, stunt performer, actor, historian, film producer, pilot, debunker
Years active1891–1926
Spouse(s)[2]
RelativesTheodore Hardeen (brother)
Signature
HoudiniSig.svg

Harry Houdini (i/; born Erik Weisz, later Ehrich Weiss or Harry Weiss; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926) was a Hungarian-born American illusionist and stunt performer, noted for his sensational escape acts. He first attracted notice in vaudeville in the US and then as "Harry Handcuff Houdini" on a tour of Europe, where he challenged police forces to keep him locked up. Soon he extended his repertoire to include chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers, straitjackets under water, and having to escape from and hold his breath inside a sealed milk can with water in it.

In 1904, thousands watched as he tried to escape from special handcuffs commissioned by London's Daily Mirror, keeping them in suspense for an hour. Another stunt saw him buried alive and only just able to claw himself to the surface, emerging in a state of near-breakdown. While many suspected that these escapes were faked, Houdini presented himself as the scourge of fake spiritualists. As President of the Society of American Magicians, he was keen to uphold professional standards and expose fraudulent artists. He was also quick to sue anyone who imitated his escape stunts.

Houdini made several movies but quit acting when it failed to bring in money. He was also a keen aviator and aimed to become the first man to fly a plane in Australia.

Early life

Erik Weisz was born in Budapest to a Jewish family.[3] His parents were Rabbi Mayer Sámuel Weisz (1829–1892) and Cecília Steiner (1841–1913). Houdini was one of seven children: Herman M. (1863–1885) who was Houdini's half-brother by Rabbi Weisz's first marriage; Nathan J. (1870–1927); Gottfried William (1872–1925); Theodore (1876–1945);[4] Leopold D. (1879–1962); and Carrie Gladys (1882–1959),[5] who was left almost blind after a childhood accident.[6]

Weisz arrived in the United States on July 3, 1878, on the SS Fresia with his mother (who was pregnant) and his four brothers.[7] The family changed their name to the German spelling Weiss, and Erik became Ehrich. The family lived in Appleton, Wisconsin, where his father served as Rabbi of the Zion Reform Jewish Congregation.

According to the 1880 census, the family lived on Appleton Street in an area that is now known as Houdini Square.[8] On June 6, 1882, Rabbi Weiss became an American citizen. Losing his job at Zion in 1882, Rabbi Weiss and family moved to Milwaukee and fell into dire poverty.[9] In 1887, Rabbi Weiss moved with Ehrich to New York City, where they lived in a boarding house on East 79th Street. He was joined by the rest of the family once Rabbi Weiss found permanent housing. As a child, Ehrich Weiss took several jobs, making his public début as a 9-year-old trapeze artist, calling himself "Ehrich, the Prince of the Air". He was also a champion cross country runner in his youth. When Weiss became a professional magician he began calling himself "Harry Houdini", after the French magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, after reading Robert-Houdin's autobiography in 1890. Weiss incorrectly believed that an i at the end of a name meant "like" in French. In later life, Houdini claimed that the first part of his new name, Harry, was an homage to Harry Kellar, whom he also admired, though it was more likely adapted from "Ehri," a nickname for "Ehrich," which is how he was known to his family.[10] When he was a teenager, Houdini was coached by the magician Joseph Rinn at the Pastime Athletic Club.[11]

Houdini became an active Freemason and was a member of St. Cecile Lodge #568 in New York City.[12] In 1918, he registered for selective service as Harry Handcuff Houdini.[13]

Other Languages
العربية: هاري هوديني
aragonés: Harry Houdini
asturianu: Harry Houdini
azərbaycanca: Harri Hudini
башҡортса: Гарри Гудини
беларуская: Гары Гудзіні
български: Хари Худини
bosanski: Harry Houdini
català: Harry Houdini
čeština: Harry Houdini
Cymraeg: Harry Houdini
davvisámegiella: Harry Houdini
Deutsch: Harry Houdini
Ελληνικά: Χάρρυ Χουντίνι
español: Harry Houdini
Esperanto: Harry Houdini
euskara: Harry Houdini
français: Harry Houdini
Gaeilge: Harry Houdini
한국어: 해리 후디니
hrvatski: Harry Houdini
Bahasa Indonesia: Harry Houdini
íslenska: Harry Houdini
italiano: Harry Houdini
ქართული: ჰარი ჰუდინი
қазақша: Гарри Гудини
latviešu: Harijs Hudini
Lëtzebuergesch: Harry Houdini
lietuvių: Harry Houdini
Malagasy: Harry Houdini
Bahasa Melayu: Harry Houdini
Nederlands: Harry Houdini
norsk nynorsk: Harry Houdini
português: Harry Houdini
română: Harry Houdini
русский: Гарри Гудини
саха тыла: Гудини Гарри
Simple English: Harry Houdini
slovenčina: Harry Houdini
slovenščina: Harry Houdini
ślůnski: Harry Houdini
српски / srpski: Хари Худини
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Harry Houdini
svenska: Harry Houdini
தமிழ்: ஆரி உடீனி
Türkçe: Harry Houdini
українська: Гаррі Гудіні
Tiếng Việt: Harry Houdini
Winaray: Harry Houdini