Honors American Literature
12 March 2013
Harry Houdini: World’s Greatest Magician
“Remembered for his ability to escape from bonds and containers, Houdini is the world’s most famous magician, and his name is instantly recognized, although he died over 70 years ago” (“Harry 1”). Harry Houdini was much more than any ordinary magician a mother might hire for their child’s birthday party. When one thinks of Harry Houdini, the furthest thing from their mind would be the clichéd pulling a rabbit out of a hat or amateur card tricks. Houdini forced his audience to question reality with his outstanding and incomprehensible ability to make the impossible possible. During the 1920s, crime, gangster activity, and racial discrimination were at their peak, but Harry Houdini was able to offset some of those harsh realities by entertaining and fascinating people using the mystery and illusion of his magic tricks. Harry Houdini’s early life influenced and sparked his interest in entertainment and magic. The Weiss family, consisting of Mayer Samuel, Cecilia Steiner Weiss, and their five children, were originally from Budapest, Hungary and later immigrated to Appleton, Wisconsin (Higbee). Harry Houdini was born on March 24, 1874 (“Harry 2”). Harry Houdini’s father, a rabbi named Mayer Samuel, did not necessarily agree with his son’s interest in magic, but when Harry was sixteen, his father passed away, and he felt free to pursue his passion as a career. Harry’s brother, Theodore Hardeen, born Ferencz Deszo Weiss, helped him to kick-start his career by becoming his magic assistant. The duo became known as the “Houdini Brothers” (Higbee). Houdini later met Wilhelmina Beatrice “Bess” Rahner, and two weeks later, he made her his wife. Bess was also in the entertainment business as a struggling singer, so she decided to help her husband with his magic career. Although she replaced Theodore, Bess made a great magic assistant because she could sing, dance, and...