Monday, March 26, 2007

Harry Houdini

Saturday was the birthday of Harry Houdini. He was born Ehrich Weiss, son of a rabbi, in Budapest in 1874, but he told people he was from Appleton, Wisconsin. His family moved there when he was very young. The name Harry Houdini was both a shortening of his own name and an homage, as the PBS documentary American Experience explains:
Aspiring teenaged magician Ehrich Weiss did not conjure the name "Harry Houdini" out of thin air. Following the hallowed tradition of his craft, the name pays homage to Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, the French performer widely considered the father of modern magic. Adding the "i" followed tradition as well, as this was a common way that magicians invoked the name of the famous 18th century Italian conjurer Pinetti. "Harry," on the other hand, was merely a pleasantly American twist on "Ehrie," his boyhood nickname.
Houdini made it his mission to expose seers and fortune tellers. Unlike his close friend, Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, Houdini was more or less certain that every famous medium was an utter phony. He even testified in front of Congress in support of a bill designed to prosecute fortune tellers for fraud.

But Houdini was most famous as an escape artist. He found his way out of innumerable handcuffs, a stage act made more sensational by asking real policemen to shackle him while the audience looked on.

As Houdini was known for his lock-picking skills, I present a photo of my own collection of lock picks:They are exceedingly difficult to use; I have never successfully picked a single lock.

1 Comments:

Blogger Cuddly said...

erm, as far as your lock-picking tools go, you will find it exceedingly easier if you added a 'tench-wrench' to your list of, more than adequate, lock-picking tools.
if you don't have a tension-wrench you WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PICK A TUMBLER OR BARREL LOCK - END OF!!!!!!

4:38 PM  

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