Extreme Magicians

Harry Houdini – The Handcuff King

Last Updated on August 18, 2020 by Darshan Modi

Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini


Harry Houdini was gifted with an exceptional superhuman ability which allowed him to escape him from police handcuffs, jails, straitjackets and even coffins.


Harry Houdini was born on 24th March 1874 as Ehrich Weisz in Budapest, Austria-Hungary.

Early Life

His family migrated to the United States with the hope of a better life and when he was eight they moved to Milwaukee. In his early years, he shined shoes and sold newspapers in order to help support his family.
In 1883, the 9 year old made his first appearance on stage performing a trapeze act. He named himself “Ehrich, the Prince of the Air”.
He was also a cross country runner in his youth.
At 12, Ehrich hoped a freight car and ran away from home. He however came back a year later and continued to support his family by working as a photography assistant, necktie cutter and messenger.
Ehrich and his brother then decided to pursue an interest in magic.
When he was a teenager, Houdini was coached by Joseph Rinn, a magician at the Pastime Athletic Club.
At 17, he left his family to pursue his magic career and by the time he was 20 he was performing small acts throughout New York.

About Harry Houdini

When he began to practice magic professionally, he went by the name Harry Houdini after the French magician Eugene Robert-Houdin and Harry Kellar whom he also admired.
He later married and joined the circus where he began to develop and perfect his escape tricks.
Throughout the years, Harry gained fame after repeatedly escaping from police handcuffs and jails. He was even given certificates from various wardens for escaping from their prisons.
After making a name in America, he toured Europe where he heightened his skills by escaping from straitjackets and coffins. By dedicating his life fully to magic, he felt that he had achieved his dream.
Later on, he took his talent to the film arena where he acted and even started his own film laboratory called The Film Development Corporation and years later received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Houdini became an active Freemason and was a member of St. Cecile Lodge #568 in New York City and in 1918; he registered for selective service as Harry Handcuff Houdini.
In the 1920s, Harry became interested in the occult, specifically debunking mediums and psychics. His training in magic helped him expose frauds that even academics and scientists could not.
Houdini died in 1926, as a result of ruptured appendix after suffering a blow to the abdomen by a university student Gordon J. Whitehead. He would not seek medical help and continued to travel succumbing to peritonitis on 24th October at 52 in Detroit, Michigan.

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Genetic Or Learned

Harry Houdini took interest in magic from a very young age, his superpower is therefore considered learned.

Guinness World Records

On August 5, 1926, he spent 91 minutes inside a coffin submerged in a swimming pool.

Names Known By

The Great Houdini.
Handcuff King.
Master Magician.

Official Website



Featured In

American Memory Website: Great Escapes.

Books Published

Harry Houdini: Escape Artist