Episode 223: Harry Houdini: The Best There Ever Was

This episode is brought to you by El Yucateco

On this episode of The Sofa King Podcast, we talk about the escapes, magic, ghost busting, and mysterious death of master magician Harry Houdini. Born as Ehrich Weisz in 1874 in Hungary, he moved to the United States with his family while very young. His father ended up moving to New York City, and young Ehrich followed him. It was there that Houdini was introduced to live performance and became a young trapeze artist called “Ehrich, the Prince of the Air.”

A few years later, he decided to go into magic, doing card tricks at penny theaters, on the street, and anywhere they would have him. He changed his name to Harry Houdini (after a magician idol of his from childhood), and he struggled to find success as a magician. His real strength lie in his showmanship and his ability as an escape artist, and he eventually got noticed and picked up by a theater. In short time, Houdini became the highest paid vaudeville entertainer in America and started to tour through Europe and the rest of the world.

His escape tricks were legendary, and some are still a mystery to this day. From his famous milk jug escape to impossible handcuffs, from being buried alive to hung from wires in a straightjacket, Houdini got away from everything. His most famous trick was the Chinese Water Torture trick, which allegedly only a handful of living magicians currently understand.

After Houdini became famous, he was promoted to be the president of the Society of American Magicians. His goal here (at his own expense) was to unite all small magic houses in the country under one umbrella organization. He succeeded, and the SAM is still thriving today. During his tenure as the president, he also went on a campaign to prove that charlatans and so-called mediums and psychics were all a fraud. He spent a lot of time disproving any magical or spiritual abilities, even though some say he did his own séances with his wife.

So, what promise did Harry Houdini make to his wife about the afterlife? Why did he sue so many people? How much of his act was a fake instead of really being dangerous? Did he die from a punch to the gut? Was his death murder via poison from a group of assassins working for discredited spiritualists? Listen, laugh, learn.

Video on Houdini’s Death:

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