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4.0 out of 5 stars Harry Houdini the most famous magician in the world is profiled in another excellent DK Company biography for young readers, September 11, 2009
This review is from: DK Biography: Harry Houdini (Paperback)
Harry Houdini was born on March 24, 1874 in Budapest Hungary to Samuel and his second wife Cecilia. Samuel was a rabbi who immigrated to America. Harry and his many brothers were raised in Appleton, Wisconsin where his father served for a short time as the rabbi of a Hebrew congregation. The family was poor but the children were loved and bright. One of Harry's brothers Leo became a doctor while another brother became a magician who learned tricks from Harry. Houdini's real name was Ehrich Weiss. The budding young magician changed his name to honor his memory of the great French magician Houdon.
Harry had little schooling but enjoyed study and learning all he could about becoming a magician. Houdini soon hit the dime theatre and vaudeville circuits. He met his wife Bess, who was a Roman Catholic, at Coney Island. Bess was a great wife who assisted Harry in his stage act. The couple were childless.
Houdini was a self promoter who always contacted the local press and police to witness his legendary escapes. He was often placed nude in a jail cell to emerge as a free minutes after he had been handcuffed and locked up! Houdin was an expert on locks, handcuffs and keys to enable him to escape. He traveled and lived in Europe starring in big shows in London, Paris, Rome and even in Russia.
Houdini was a good friend of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Their friendship was frayed when Houdini exposed charlatans conducting seances approved of by the creator of the Sherlock Holmes tales. Houdini demanded honesty in his professional deals never smoking or drinking. Though short he was a superbly muscled athlete.
Houdini starred in a few Hollywood films and continued to perform throughout most of his life. He died in 1926 due to a ruptured appendix. Houdini had a vast collection of magic books and knew thousands of tricks of his mysterious trade.
Vicki Cobb has written a fine book for young adults and teens as part of the DK Biography series. The book is lavishly illustrated with a text which might be enjoyed by both young and old readers. Recommended!
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