Synopsis by John Patrick Sheehan
Part of the Biography television series from A&E, this documentary reviews the career and personal life of escape artist Harry Houdini. Born in Budapest, Hungary as Erik Weisz, he was the son of a rabbi. He emigrated to Appleton, Wisconsin, and borrowed the name of a French magician. He started his career with his brother Theodore and they called themselves, the Houdini Brothers. The video focuses on him as an established vaudeville star in England and America. He specialized in escaping from padlocked chains, cells, straitjackets, and underwater boxes. His escapes in public locales were covered in the international press and in 1910 he started a company to film his feats. He gave his stunts frightening, mysterious-sounding names like Metamorphosis, the Chinese Water Torture Cell, and Buried Alive. Onstage he might be tied hand and foot and nailed into a packing case, or submerged in a giant milk can filled with water. Between shows, he might be wrapped in a hospital straitjacket and suspended upside down high above the street, only to free himself in minutes. Founder of the Society of American Magicians, the video points out that he campaigned against mind readers and mediums who claimed to possess supernatural powers exposing them as frauds, however, he encouraged attempts to contact him through a medium after his death.
career-retrospective, escape-artist, life-story, magician [performer], stunt, vaudeville