Houdini Photo Retrospective

The Smith­son­ian

has come out with a nice pho­to essay look­ing back on the leg­endary escape artist Har­ry Hou­di­ni. It begins:

Houdini_jump_2Har­ry Hou­di­ni freed him­self from chains after jump­ing off a pier into Boston’s Charles Riv­er, wig­gled out of a strait jack­et while hang­ing upside down in Times Square and appeared alive and well after being sub­merged in his Water Tor­ture Cell. The great escape artist defied belief and enter­tained hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple through­out the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry until he died on Hal­loween in 1926, at age 52. His death cer­tifi­cate blames a rup­tured appen­dix, but rumors cir­cu­lat­ed that he may have been mur­dered.

A new biog­ra­phy, The Secret Life of Hou­di­ni by William Kalush and Lar­ry Slo­man, has caused many peo­ple, includ­ing the magi­cian’s great-nephew, to recon­sid­er these rumors. Hou­di­ni, they believe, may have been poi­soned by Spir­i­tu­al­ists, a group who claimed to speak to the dead through séances. Hou­di­ni went to great lengths to debunk their prac­tices, often expos­ing their tricks on the stage. In late March, foren­sic pathol­o­gists announced that they will exhume Hou­dini’s body to deter­mine once and for all what hap­pened to the escape artist.

In this pho­to essay, explore the extra­or­di­nary life of Har­ry Hou­di­ni: BEGIN SLIDESHOW>

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