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Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz, later Ehrich Weiss or Harry Weiss; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926) was a Hungarian-born American stunt performer, noted for his sensational escape acts. He first attracted notice as Handcuff Harry, on a tour of Europe, where he would sensationally challenge different police-forces to try to keep him locked up. This revealed a talent for gimmickry and for audience involvement that would characterise all his work. Soon he was extending his repertoire to include chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers, straitjackets under water, and having to hold his breath inside a sealed milk-can. In 1904, thousands watched as he tried to escape from a special handcuff commissioned by London's Daily Mirror, keeping them in suspense for an hour. Another stunt saw him buried alive and only just able to claw himself to the surface, emerging in a state of near-breakdown. While many suspected that these escapes were fabricated, it is ironic that Houdini was meanwhile presenting himself as the scourge of fake magicians and spiritualists.

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