11 Interesting Facts About Harry Houdini

PanIQ Room is all about a great escape, and no one has a better reputation for great escapes than Harry Houdini. So we’ve gathered some interesting facts about the legendary escape artist, all while pondering the question: how many minutes (seconds?) would Houdini need to get out of an escape room?

#1 Just like PanIQ Room and escape rooms in general, Harry Houdini was of Hungarian origin. Although he has always professed to be American and denied his Hungarian roots, the world’s greatest illusionist and escape artist was born in Budapest in 1874. He was given the name Erik Weisz at birth and was four years old when his family emigrated to the United States.

#2 According to George Bernard Shaw, the celebrated Irish playwright, the most frequently mentioned names throughout the world are Jesus, Sherlock Holmes and Houdini.

#3 Despite his work as an illusionist, he did not like spiritualists. He considered them to be tricksters and frauds, and even supported the submission of a bill that would have prohibited seances and fortune telling.

#4 He trained himself through methodical work, thoroughness and diligence. He learned a tremendous amount from the French magician, Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin and even adopted his stage name ‘Houdini’ in his honor. Years later, he turned against his former role model and wrote a revealing book titled “The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin.”

#5 Houdini could hold his breath for more than four minutes! At home, he practiced in a large bathtub to stay underwater for as long as possible, and he trained in this private pool for his underwater escape acts as well.

#6 With few exceptions, he invented all of his own tricks, and only his four assistants were let in on the solutions to the most difficult ones. Because of his secrecy, the mysteries of most of his escape acts have not been solved to this day.

#7 In his show called Metamorphosis, he had his assistant lay in a box and switched places with her in a few moments behind a curtain. This certain assistant was Bess-Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, whom he later married. The girl helped him as his full-time assistant and stage partner under the name Bess Houdini.

#8 Driven by his staunch patriotism, Houdini held seminars for American soldiers during World War I, teaching them how to get rid of handcuffs and ropes or escape a sinking ship.

#9 His brother, Theo, started his own magician career under the name Hardeen. They performed together as children many times. Later, the two brothers pretended to be fierce rivals in order to generate publicity buzz around them.

#10 In 1926, two students reportedly came to Houdini’s locker room after he boasted that his abdominal muscles could withstand any punch. One of the students punching him twice in the abdomen without warning, giving Houdini no time to prepare. None of them were aware at the time, but his appendix had virtually exploded from the punches. He performed his show that night in tremendous pain before being taken to hospital, but he could not be helped. He passed away at the age of 52.

#11 A portion of his inheritance was auctioned off in 2004, most of which was bought by the very popular modern magician, David Copperfield.

All in all, Houdini would probably only set escape records in PanIQ Room units if he designed the room himself, or if he could use props and not have to play through the logical and skill-based tasks.