Erik Veisz, alias Harry Houdini, the master of illusion, was the greatest celebrity one hundred years ago. Born in 1878, in Budapest’s 6th district (Terézváros), Houdini was only four years old when his family moved to the United States. They found a new home in Wisconsin, where his unprecedented career started.
The little boy met a wandering magician when he was 12 and decided to become the master of illusion. He escaped from the house of his parents and moved to New York. He worked there as a tie maker but was only interested in becoming a magician. He knew the life story of the creator of modern “illusion”, Robert Houdin. He chose his stage name to respect his forerunner. His little brother, Ferenc, followed him. They tried to work together but were not successful. Afterwards, Ferenc became his manager and organised shows.
Some of his tricks remained unsolved even today. One thing is certain: he was a sportsman, he trained each day, so his muscles resembled those of an athlete. He survived for minutes with one breath and had very creative ideas. Employing good craftsmen, they could build strange devices for the shows.
Here is Houdini’s main trick
He always performed in huge arenas and in front of a lot of people. That is because the people interested concentrated not only on him, but also on their environment and each other. Thus, they became distracted. Moreover, he used music, smoke, and light effects and arranged the spectators far from the events. Illusionists today like Copperfield and Merlini, use the same distraction methods even today, Blikk wrote.
One of his greatest tricks was getting out of a straitjacket while all his limbs were tied together and he hung upside down. The key was always in his mouth, but his spectacular convulsions and flaps distracted the people. He regularly “went” to prison in front of journalists in each town where he performed and escaped. The trick was hiding keys and other devices in his hair, feet, etc.
Houdini’s jump from the Harvard bridge:
When he “walked through a wall” he used his sibling, who resembled him. He worked under the name of Veisz, so ordinary people never discovered the trick.
Based on the legend, his death was caused by a spectator. He made him hit his abdomen to prove how strong his muscles were. However, he suffered from appendicitis by then and died after a week. Another version says he was poisoned because he campaigned against charlatans like demonists, mindreaders and supernatural forces. Many of his fans thought his death was just a trick. He is still the greatest Hungarian star in America.
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