Houdini, the name is still magic. The most popular vaudeville performer of his era, Harry Houdini died during the stunt-crazed Twenties-on Halloween in 1926. His reputation and legend have continued to grow in the years since.
Dynamic and enormously talented, he was famed in his own time as a master magician, a man who could walk through a solid brick wall or make a live elephant disappear ... as a daring performer, unfazed by the prospect of leaping, chained, into an icy river ... as a pioneer aviator (the first to fly to Australia) ... as a daredevil actor in the days of silent films ... as an unrelenting crusader against fake spiritualists ... and as, above all, the greatest escape artist the world has ever seen. He could get out of anything, from manacles and straitjackets to coffins and jail cells.
Today Houdini is a folk hero. Myths and legendary tales have collected about him. It was said that he would be able to overcome death, sending back a message to the living; that he left his secrets in a safe-deposit vault, to be opened on the anniversary of his death; that he used psychic powers to perform his feats; or, most bizarrely, that he had a pocket in his skin in which he hid his picklocks. Even late in the century, Houdini continues as a prominent presence, a featured character in E. L. Doctorow's famed novel (and film and Broadway musical), Ragtime.
For this fascinating pictorial biography of Houdini, noted magician Milbourne Christopher drew on his immense collection of magic posters, photographs, drawings, and other memorabilia to recreate the life and times of his wonderful predecessor. Most of the information and rare illustrations are completely unique to this book, shedding new light on Houdini's spectacular escapes, his career in movies and as an author, his daring airplane flights in 1910, and his investigations into the supernatural. As a special added attraction, this pictorial biography includes, as an appendix, a facsimile of an autobiographical sketch, The Marvelous Adventures of Houdini, the Justly Celebrated Elusive American, originally published by the magician himself in 1917.
Houdini adds a new dimension to the great magician, making his accomplishments seem even more remarkable. For magic and theater buffs, for lovers of nostalgia, and for all those intrigued by true stories of larger-than-life legends who have recently been among us, Houdini is a magical book.
Milbourne Christopher was one of the best known magicians in America up until his death in 1984. He appeared frequently on network television, including in his own specials, and he had a one-man show on Broadway in 1965. An avid magic scholar and collector of memorabilia (including much on Houdini), Christopher authored twenty books on the subject. He performed as a magician all over the world and served as president of the Society of American Magicians. His spectacular collection of magic books, letters, posters, and other ephemera was the basis for a well-publicized recent auction at Swann Galleries in New York and among the priceless treasures was an unpublished Houdini book manuscript.