Harry Houdini was a renown stage magician who rose to fame after extending a challenge to police forces around Europe, to do their best job locking him up - just so he could escape. He became so famous with the amazing acts and stunts that he performed, that even 91 years later he is still widely known as the most famous magician ever. If you were to approach someone on the street and ask him to name a magician, it’s very likely that the name they might utter would be Harry Houdini. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and gathered five of the most interesting facts about him that we could find!
1. Harry Houdini was born Erik Weisz in Budapest, Austria-Hungary on March 24, 1874. His parents were Rabbi Mayer Sámuel Weisz and Cecília Steiner. He was one of seven children, having four brothers, one half-brother, and one sister. His family immigrated to the United States on July 3, 1878, on the SS Fresia. They changed their names to Weiss to fit the English form of the name, and Erik became Ehrich. They settled in Appleton, Wisconsin where his father served as a Rabbi. When Houdini was a small child, he held a variety of little jobs in order to help make money for his family. When he was nine years old, he made his public debut as a trapeze artist. He decided to call himself, “Ehrich, the Prince of the Air.”
2. Harry Houdini starred in a handful of silent films, such as “The Master Mystery” or “Houdini Defeats Hackenschmidt.” He fell in love with the theatre, and when his movies became masterful hits, he decided to open his movie studio. His studio was named The Houdini Picture Corporation, and he created two films, “The Man From Beyond” and “Haldane Of The Secret Service” for his studio, but sadly, neither fared very well in the theaters and he decided to close down his studio. He left the movie business completely in 1923.
3. Houdini was a lover of aviation and became one of the world’s first private pilots after buying a French-made Voisin biplane. During his maiden flight in Germany, he crashed his plane. He continued to practice, and during his tour to Australia, he made three successful flights near Melbourne. Houdini’s flights were certified by the Aerial League of Australia as the country’s first powered and controlled flights.
4. Harry Houdini supported the United States’ Involvement in World War 1 - so much so that he convinced the Society of American Magicians to sign loyalty oaths to President Wilson. He even held classes at New York’s Hippodrome where he taught doughboys how to escape sinking ships, and escape from ropes, handcuffs, and other restraints in case they were caught by the Germans. He also canceled his tours to entertain soldiers and raise money for the war effort.
5. He died on October 31, 1926, at 1:26 pm in Room 401 of Detroit’s Grace Hospital from Peritonitis, secondary to a ruptured appendix. When he first entered the hospital, he was convinced that he would recover, but the longer he remained, the worse his morale became. He had broken his ankle days earlier and was reclining on the couch when he was approached by a student named Jocelyn Gordon Whitehead who wanted to know if he could genuinely stand being punched in the stomach without pain. It is believed that because of his lying on the couch, his body did not have the give it needed to brace itself, and that is what ultimately caused his death.