The Magical Life of Houdini By Ally Tan

Houdini's Childhood Life

Even though we all know Harry Houdini as the inspiring magician that traveled the world. He was actually born in a very poor family. Houdini was born in Budapest, Hungary, March 24, 1874. Although he claimed he was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, that was later tossed aside as a lie. Harry Houdini was not born in Appleton, but his family moved there in 1876. He lived with his father, Mayer Samuel Weiss, his mother, Cecelia Steiner Weiss, and his six siblings. (two siblings died at a very young age) Harry had to start working at the age of eight. There are many stories as to how Houdini became interested in magic but we know that his brother played some role in the process. As a young child, Houdini built muscle by playing sports and running in track. This helped Houdini gain his strength to do many of his dangerous acts. This might be a shock but Houdini's actual name was Erich. He changed it when he became famous. As stated before, Houdini had a father. But sadly, his dad died when he was young. This made him promise his mother that he would soon find money and be able to support her in any shape or form. This is part of what motivated Harry Houdini to strive.

A picture of Houdini and his family.

How Erich Became Houdini

When Harry Houdini first started magic, he called himself Erich the great. After a while, he started studying more magic related books. Two of the books would change his life forever. I will be talking about the second one of these. The second book was written by a famous magician. It was called "The Memoirs Of Robert-Houdin" In hopes of becoming a memorable magician like Robert-Houdin, Erich the great was changed to Harry Houdini.

What Started Off His Career

Houdini's first show was booked in Vaudeville. When he first started, his most praised tick was called "metamorphosis" This trick caught the attention of many famous show hosts. The trick went a little like this. There was a box, big enough to hold a grown person. Houdini would preform this trick with his brother Theo. Theo would hide inside the box while Houdini would tell the audience "When I clap my hands three times-behold a miracle." Then with many quick movements, it took only about three seconds for Houdini to lift up a curtain duck behind, get into the box, let Theo get out of the box, and Theo would end up holding the curtain. Harry and Theo would preform this movement over, and over again. This required lots of agility and strength. When preformed well, the audience would believe it was magic,

Harry Houdini's Main Accomplishments In Life

Harry Houdini started doing magic acts onstage when an entertainment producer by the name of Martin Beck booked him in live shows in Europe. He started off by preforming handcuff, and straitjacket escapes to the local police. Harry would allow audience members to challenge him to escape out of customized locks. Houdini wowed the audience nonstop, day after day. One of his most famous escapes was the Chinese water torture cell. Houdini would be hung upside down, locked in a glass cell, full of water, and would have to escape. This was one of his many great achievements. Later, Harry Houdini became known for numerous escapes that meant death if failed. Some of them included the "vanishing elephant," and the "milk can escape." His illusions, death defying, and daring acts are what lead people to know Houdini as one of the most impossible magicians of all time.

Important Factors of Harry Houdini's Life

As I have said, Houdini's father died when he was a young man. This lead him to promise to take care of his mother until death. But finally, three weeks before July 29, Houdini's mother passed away. Later, Harry was said to have told his wife that the only two women he loved were her and his mother. So it was truly a miserable time for the greatest magician of all. He took breaks from his shows, had nightmares, and visited his mother's grave as often as he could. This affected much of his magic life. Later, Harry added another act to his performances. This act included conjuring up dead spirits. He claimed to be talking to his mother in front of live audiences.

Harry Houdini visiting his mothers grave

Finding Another Passion

Near the end of world war one, Many people became interested in films. More specifically, movies. Harry Houdini wanted in on the action, and started the job of acting. His first movie was named "The Master Mystery." It was a silent movie like most were in the olden days. In the film, Houdini had to escape from real straitjackets, and handcuffs. That was where his passion for magic came in to play. Audiences loved watching his breathtaking stunts. But overtime, Houdini got injured throughout shooting. And other fantastic actors started having doubles do their stunts. The fake stunts in other films looked exactly like the real ones Harry Houdini preformed. In a little while Houdini's show business died down, and he went back to escaping impossible concoctions.

Influences Houdini Made

Although you might not think preforming magic is enough to influence the world, think again with Harry Houdini. Starting off with not even enough food to feed all of his family, Harry made fame and fortune with the art of his own passion. This can help people know that there is always hope, and if you work really hard, and never give up, you can achieve great things.

Harry Houdini Biography Poem


Brave, determined, reckless

Husband of Bess Houdini, son of Cecilia Steiner Weiss

Who loved fame and fortune, his wife and mother

Who has been miserable, hurt, and felt indestructable

Who feared he might not be able to take care of his loved ones, feared he wouldn't have money, and feared being regretful of a trick

Who became famous by entertaining the crowd with dangerous escapes that left them questioned

Who wanted to have lots of money, become a famous actor, and be well educated

Born in Budapest Hungary, and moved to Appleton, Wisconsin


Houdini's Death

Harry Houdini died on October 31, 1926 at 1:26 P.M. On the day of October 18, Harry was supposed to lecture a few collage students at McGill University. One of the students at the lecture drew a picture of him. Houdini told the man that he could have an interview with him. The students name was Smilovitz, and he had brought along a friend. While the two friends interviewed Houdini, he had started bragging about how his stomach muscles were extra strong. Then, out of the blue, Smilovitz's friend asked Houdini if he could resist the hardest blows to the abdomen. Houdini thought a little, then allowed the young man to punch him in the stomach. So, the two friends punched Houdini in the stomach multiple times, in a rapid manner. Until finally, Houdini, weak and out of breath, raised his hand and told the boys that was enough. They stopped and the interview went on. But Houdini's stomach hurt more than ever. When the talk was finally over, Houdini went to another show. After the show, his abdomen hurt really bad, and his temperature was at 102 degrees. A local doctor told him to go to the hospital. Houdini refused because he did not want to miss his shows the next day. But, the show left him in pure agony and he collapsed when it was over. In the middle of the night, Houdini was taken to the hospital where he learned his appendix had ruptured. After that day, he was operated on for other troubles in his stomach. Finally, a few days after, Harry Houdini, also known as "The Man Who Walked Through Walls" died on Halloween day.

My Opinion on Why Harry Houdini Became Famous

Harry Houdini was a fantastic magician. He did things that nobody thought possible. I think people were interested on what kind of powerful being he might be. Harry could escape cells that held the toughest criminals, and get out of handcuffs that were made for the strongest men. He proved society wrong by easily slipping through these tricks. During the time when Houdini lived, show business kept the people entertained. He became really good at it. Later, movies became popular and so, he joined that industry too. He followed the trend and kept his money rolling. Finally, for the not so wealthy people, he showed that there is always hope. Harry strived even though he started with barely nothing. These are the reasons why I believe Harry Houdini became what we know as one of the most famous magicians.

Houdini poster covers


AllAboutMagicians. “Harry Houdini - Straight Jacket Escape.” YouTube, YouTube, 4 Dec. 2010, Accessed 2 Mar. 2017.

Cox, Clinton. Houdini. New York, New York 10012: Scholastic Press, September 2001. Print

Carnegie, Dean. “Mysteries of the Houdini Grave.” Carnegie: Magic Detective, Accessed 2 Mar. 2017.

“From the Archives: Magician, Harry Houdini, Succumbs.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, Accessed 2 Mar. 2017.

“Harry Houdini And His Family 39611 | NANOZINE.” Harry Houdini And His Family 39611 | NANOZINE, Accessed 2 Mar. 2017.

“Harry Houdini Appleton.” Harry Houdini Appleton, Appleton - Holiday Inn Appleton WI Hotel, Accessed 3 Mar. 2017.

“Harry Houdini.”, A&E Networks Television, 8 Jan. 2016, Accessed 3 Mar. 2017.

“Harry Houdini: Famous Magician. Master of Escapes. Houdini Metamorphosis.” HOUDINI: Harry Houdini Biography Houdini Magic, Accessed 3 Mar. 2017.

Monticup, Peter. “Movie- Master Mystery.”, Accessed 2 Mar. 2017.

“Magician Spotlight – Harry Houdini.” Image, Accessed 3 Mar. 2017.

“The Death of Harry Houdini.” YouTube, YouTube, 31 Oct. 2016, Accessed 3 Mar. 2017.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.