Some Of The Secrets That Made Harry Houdini The Greatest Illusionist

A new mini-series on the History Channel is set to show us some of the secrets that made Harry  Houdini the greatest illusionist of the 20th century. The role of Houdiniis played by Adrien Brody, an American actor that won the Academy Award for his performance in Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist”.

As one of the most legendary faces of the 20th century’s, the magician wowed so many people with his breath-taking tricks and stunts. Houdini was able to unlock chains by hiding keys inside a false finger. It was always easy for him to free himself from handcuffs, jail cells and leg irons.With special skills such as trickery and sleight of hand, he had the ability to have a key in his hand and hid it from the viewers while performing his magic and stunts.

To achieve some of his audacious escapes, it is revealed that the accomplished illusionist was able to hide keys and lock picks under his foot or in his bushy hair – which he cleverly secured with adhesives. Other methods he used in hiding his escape tools was to hide them in the hollowed-out compartment of his shoes. At other times, he would use an accomplice who would shook his hands and transfer the keys to him. If he had access to a prison cell before he is locked up there, Houdini would sometimes hide his escape materials under a bench or inside a soapbar.

He was so good in what he did that President Woodrow Wilson was so impressed with his abilities and invited him to a private meeting at the White House in December 1914. During that special get-together, the president told magician he envied the fact he has the ability to escape out of tight places. He added he wished he was able to do what Houdini did, the Mail Online reports.

During World War one, Houdini again had the privilege of entertaining the American troops. While with them, the renowned magician gave the soldiers some lessons on how they can easily escape from ropes, free thesmselves from handcuffs – as well as shipwrecks.

Born Ehrich Weiss to Hungarian parents, the magician started his career as Ehrich the Great before he took the stage name Houdini. His stage name inspiration came from another magician that was known as Robert-Houdin. The great illusionist died of peritonitis in 1926, a week after being punched in the stomach by a student.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE