The Weise family eventually moved to New York City, upon which Erich (Harry) picked up a number of odd jobs, including an apprenticeship with locksmith. Harry began his magic career in 1894 as Harry Houdini. He shortly met his wife Bess (Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner) who was also a magician and she became his stage assistant.
Houdini billed himself as the "king of cards" at first doing a number of card tricks. In 1899 he made an elephant disappear in London with a pool beneath the stage. Shortly after he met Martin Beck who advised him to work on his escape tricks and booked him on the vaudeville circuit. Houdini's stagemanship became very impressive as he toured Europe doing a number of handcuff and lock tricks.
Houdini now had amassed enough wealth to live a good life with his wife in New York, and performing all over the world. In 1908 Houdini began tricks were he would lock himself in water filled containers that now carried with it, the possibility of death. He claimed he made his escapes by dematerializing. Over the years Houdini made many variations to these tricks.
In the 1920's Houdini became a "ghost buster" of sorts trying to prove spiritualists, psychics, and mediums had no spiritual power at all, but were relying on tricks to fool people. He would often work covertly with police and reports to capture these people in their con. He also worked with Scientific America to challenge anyone to prove that they had supernatural abilities. In Houdini's book A Magician Among the Saints Houdini Chronicled his efforts to debunk the Boston-based medium, Mina Crandon.
In his life Houdini also worked in and on a few movies. Houdini's films never amounted to any major success but he was later awarded a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
Houdini died on Halloween in 1926. It is generally agreed that he died of appendicitis but there is debate over the cause, and also whether that was his true cause of death.
The upcoming movie Death Defying Acts occurs in 1926 in the later years of Houdini's life (he would've been in his early 50s). Along with Guy Pearce as Harry Houdini, Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Scottish psychic Mary McGregor who tries to con Houdini in a highly publicized seance to contact his dead mother. The film also features busy young British actress Saoirse Ronan, as the daughter of Zeta-Jones' character.
Will this biographical film earn some critical awards attention this year for Pearce's portrayal of this Real (Reel) Person?
Related Tags: Harry Houdini, Guy Pearce, Magic, Film, Escapist, Hollywood, Spiritualist, Psychics, Mediums, Death Defying Acts, Gillian Armstrong, Bio Pic, Saoirse Ronan, Mary McGregor, Catherine Zeta Jones