During the early 20th century there were few performers more fascinating than Harry Houdini, the manician whose tricks challenged the illusions associated with his profession as well as the public’s perception of what circus performers could achieve. So in honour of this amazing artist, let’s take a look at five of his most daring and indeed ground-breaking magic tricks that remain some of the most phenomenal achivements in the history of magic entertainment.
The Chinese Water Torture Cell
Okay, not a name that Houdini wwas fond of as he preferred to refer to it as ‘the upside down’,but regardless of its title this trick was a truly thrillin visual experience for audiences. For this trick Houdini would be upside down gradually getting lowered into a large tank full of water with his feet firmly bound to stocks that were connected to the ceiling of the venue. Audiences were able to see Houdini enter the water through the front of aclear glass tank, but after watching him struggle for a few seconds, a curtain would suddenly cover the tank and seconds later be removed only to reveal Houdini standing beside the tank completely unharmed. This remains one of his most stunning feats.
The Suspended straitjacket escape
One of the more visually open tricks that Houdini performed was also possibly his most iconic. The suspended straightjacket escape found the magician pulling his way out of a straightjacket while suspended upside down and hanging from a crane. This trick was a long-running favourite of Houdini’s audience and was often performed before crowds of thousands all over the world.
The Great River Crate Escape
One of the more dangerous stunts that Houdini performed was escaping from a packing crate which was nailed shut and bound by rope… and oh yeah, he was handcuffed, had his legs clasped in iron holds, and was floating on a river! Audiences would watch in amazement as Houdini broke free from the crate.
The Milk Can Escape
Escaping from a crate on a river was tame compared to some of Houdini’s other tricks. A popular feature of Houdini’s act was the milk can escape, which consisted of him being handcuffed inside of a large milk can full of water which was then sealed inside a wooden chest. Needless to say, Houdini would then successfully struggle his way out. This trick was often advertised with the tagline “Failure Means a Drowning Death”. Definitely not a performance by your average magician!
The Vanishing Elephant Trick
Houdini didn’t often work with animals or set props very often, but when he did the results were stunning. His disappearing elephant act became the stuff of legend when first performed in New York in 1918. A large wooden box with curtains at either end was arranged to cover an elephant before the doors were closed. The cabinet was then turned around with the curtain on the front being suddenly released to reveal that the box was empty. There were open windows on the back of the structure so that the audience could visibly see through the box which seemed to show that the five ton elephant had disappeared.
Circus magicians like Harry Houdini are still a major attraction in contemporary society. Such performances make for original and unique entertainment when hired by businesses for use at corporate events and special occasions.
Liam Brennan is a blogger with extensive knowledge of arranging quality entertainment at corporate events. He recommends the circus entertainment company, IA Productions when planning any circus themed occasion.