The Amazing Harry Houdini
By | May 16, 2019
Harry Houdini was a man of many talents. Despite only living to the age of fifty-two, his résumé included such titles as a circus performer, aviator, actor, and writer. But it was his skill as an illusionist for which he became known as one of the most famous magicians of all time.
One of seven children, Houdini was born Ehrich Weisz on March 24, 1874, in Budapest, Hungary, to Rabbi Mayer Weisz and Cecilia Steiner. In 1876, the family moved to the United States, specifically Appleton, Wisconsin, where the father continued to work as a rabbi and changed the family name to Weiss. In 1882, they moved again - this time to Milwaukee. During this time, young Houdini helped to support his family by selling newspapers and shining shoes. At the age of nine, he made his circus debut by performing a trapeze act and going by the stage name of “Ehrich, the Prince of the Air.” At twelve years old, Houdini performed his first disappearing act - though not on any stage - by running away from home. He reappeared a year later and moved to New York with his family. He continued to help support his family by working various jobs including messenger, necktie cutter, and photography assistant.
It was around this time that he developed an interest in magic and came up with the stage name by which he is now known. He chose the name Houdini in honor of the French magician Robert Houdin and Harry was simply an Americanized version of his childhood nickname Ehrie. At the age of seventeen, he left home once again, but this time it was to pursue a career in magic. He struggled at first, performing small acts around New York before rejoining the circus. In 1893, he married Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner who became his stage assistant performing as Beatrice “Bess” Houdini.