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Harry Houdini

Also known as Ehrich Weiss


Hungarian-American illusionist and stunt performer Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz, 24 Mar 1874 – 31 Oct 1926) was the original Handcuff King of the World. Born in Budapest, the author moved to the USA in 1878. Initially only a magician, his escapes from all kinds of locks, handcuffs and prisons made him a living legend. 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. 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. During his life and career Houdini authored several books exposing frauds, imitators and plagiarists. He was also an aviator and briefly acted in a few movies.