Born on March 24, 1874 inBudapest and named Ehrich Weiss, Houdini’s path as a magician, and later on jack of all trades, began when his father sent for them to join him in America in the year 1875. Harry tried a lot of jobs to improve his family’s situation: he did mind reading acts, was a circus acrobat, magician and later on movie actor and aviator. Growing up with 5 siblings depending on a father who was a rabbi, Houdini read The Memoirs of Robert-Houdin and thought he could become a magician, too. This resulted in his new stage name – Harry Houdini. Who is Harry Houdini? – is set in America and as Houdini grows, he explores Europe and is known by the whole world. The place of his big break, the main setting – is in America.
The tricks that artist in the broadest sense of the word was practicing with his brother Theo varied from card tricks, mind reading, disappearing acts and illusions. Meeting Beatrice (Bess) Raymond changed Houdini’s life greatly. She was smaller than Theo and eager to take the stage. Together with Bess, they met Martin Beck who gave Houdini the big break since he booked him at the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit and arranged a European tour for him. During the tour, the master would invite the top police force men to cuff him and throw him into jail where he escaped each time without failure. His success against the world’s top police force, including London and Russian ones, turned him into a sensational, and the name “handcuff king” (Sutherland, 2002) was born.
Harry loved life and the modern world fascinated him. In 1910, he became the first person to fly an airplane in Australia. At that time, they were a few airplanes – the Wright brothers’ models – and his flight across this country motivated studies to be made on the structure of the flying machine. He became influential and admired. Harry was no longer a magician that could escape any lock and key ever invented by men; he was now a recognized and famous pilot. The whole world knew him and he was living his dream of being a famous man.
As an actor and dedicated magician, Houdini spent his life trying to expose and outwit false magicians. He watched magicians, read books on magic and wrote every detail that looked useful and new to him. Houdini was gifted on outwitting and debunking Spiritualists, and that motivated him to write a couple of books. In 1923, his book “A Magician among the Spirits” was published. This printed work enabled him to fight against counterfeit performers trying to imitate his handcuff tricks, and tarnishing the original magician concepts.
In this book, there is the moral of perseverance and determination. Houdini is portrayed as a strong character that became the first magician to become an actor and flew across Australia. He wrote the book for children, but the way it unfolds and twists it takes in revealing Harry captures people of all ages. It describes Houdini in such a way that even though it came out almost 8 decades after his death, the reader is fascinated and, at the same time, wants to get closer to this man, who wanted to be famous in every field he ventured into. The book’s creator depicts its main character beautifully and makes him a great success that became a worldwide household name without the aid of the television or internet. To date, his tricks are still mysteries baffling the modern technology. The author sends a message of willpower and explains a complex and admirable man of the 19th century.
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