Harry Houdini was the very definition of entertainment; from 1899 to his demise in 1926, he kept the entire world enthralled by his ability to capture audiences on stage and on screen.
His actual name is Ehrich Weiss and was born in Budapest on 24th March, 1874. He moved to Wisconsin at the age of 4, his father was a Rabbi of a local congregation and they found it really hard to make ends meet at home. Thus he had to work from a really young age to support his family. But he was always drawn to the world of entertainment and even performed as a trapeze artist at a local circus.
After a few failures to work as a successful Rabbi, his father took him to New York where both of them tried to find work. Ehrich was also an athlete in nature and was excellent in a variety of sports. This was a dark period in his life; he was away from a mother whom he loved so much and trapped in a position with little or no work. Any man would have resorted to drinks and depression but not Ehrich, he believed in himself and in the fact that things could get better with time.
He wouldn’t let the bad times beat him to the curb and soon rediscovered that he had a knack for magic tricks and established a two man show called “The Brothers Houdini” with Jacob Hyman. After his father’s death in 1892, he took this magic show to the road and performed his act in tonnes of theatres in New York and Midwest. Harry met and married another performer named Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner “Bess” who replaced Hyman and they renamed themselves “The Houdinis”.
It was not until 1899 that he received his first big shot when Martin Beck a theatre tycoon, impressed by his handcuffs trick gave him the leading role in the Omaha March. By the 1900s Harry had made quite a name for himself performing all kinds of tricks.
Soon problems with Beck started and he went on a solo show all across Europe for at least five years. He returned to America in 1905 after huge appreciation from Germany and other European countries. After his mother’s death, which struck him deeply, his devotion to perform tricks grew even more and he developed much more fascinating tricks.
After about 30 years of performances as a magician, he then stepped in to the industry of motion picture. His first film was named the “The Master Mystery” in 1918. He was the first ever action hero in Hollywood. He even began his own production company but didn’t get much profit from it.
He worked tirelessly to learn about the history of magic. His crusade to reveal the Spiritualists as nothing more than performers helped him befriend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but they soon argued over their differing views and lost touch with each other.
In 1926 he was at the height of his success and was performing a two and a half hour show on Broadway titled Houdini. He took the show to the road. Once in Montreal in October he was hit quite hard on his stomach which led him to suffer from an aggravated appendicitis. The appendix was removed on 25th October; he even performed once after the operation before he died on Halloween in 1926.