Wednesday, March 18, 2009

☞ REMEMBER: Harry Houdini of Harlem

Harry Houdini became one of the most famous celebrities to move into Jewish Harlem in 1904. The illusionist, escape artist, actor and aviator married his assistant Beatrice (see above photo) and set up his residence in northern Manhattan. Born into poverty as Ehric Weiss in Hungary, Houdini would learn his first trick as a young man in New York City. After reading the memoirs of French magician Robert Houdin, the young Ehric modeled himself after his new idol and started to perform in small venues. Later on, Vaudeville provided greater success in his career and brought him world fame. Escapes often involved ropes, chains and water (either in containers or great bodies of water) along with swimsuits or lack thereof. His contemporary today can be seen in David Blain since they both have the ability to grab the public's attention through daring stunts. Houdini, a professor by 1926, passed away on Halloween day after a college student punched him in his stomach on a dare. The punch fatally bursted Houdini's appendix, and the world lost their first celebrity magician.  This coming March 24th will be Harry Houdini's 138th birthday.

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