The Man Behind The Magic

April 28, 2012
By AVincent BRONZE, Niles, Illinois
AVincent BRONZE, Niles, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Harry Houdini is magic. He was, and still is, the greatest magician of all time. A Hungarian man in the early 1900’s performed tricks that only the unknown knew how to perform. He escaped death, and did it with ease. And you may think, “Well, what really makes a great magician?” The answer is clear. First off, his tricks were impossible to decipher with the naked eye. He kept mystery at all times, never revealed any of his secrets, never gave any tips or clues as to how to be a better magician. And lastly, he was really the first magician to emerge with the powers that he had. He was able to do things that nobody ever dreamed of doing, or surviving at least. Harry Houdini was the greatest magician of all time.

First of all, the main reason as to why a magician is considered “great,” is because his tricks are impossible to decipher unless told the secret. His greatest tricks include a milk can escape, straitjacket escape, being buried alive, and a Chinese water torture escape. To this day, nobody except Harry Houdini himself knows how to successfully perform these tricks. His tricks were very intense and professional, as in, there is no way on Earth you will be able to figure them out. Of course, like any magician, he had helpers. People who would assist him on successfully performing his tricks. Some say that his helpers didn’t even know the secrets to his tricks, or how he did it, but they were still by his side to make sure he held the title as greatest magician of all time (Woog). Dorothy Young, who passed away last year, was Houdini’s last surviving stage assistant, was one of the people who Houdini would make appear out of a giant box, right in front of the audiences eyes. In this case though, it was a giant radio, hence she was given the name, “Radio Girl” (Thornhill). She claimed to have known the secret to all of his stunts, and frankly, I believe her. He made her appear out of nowhere, she must have known where the trap door was. It’s all a mystery, and I think that’s what makes magic, magic. Great magicians are mysteries, they are the unknown, and I’m pretty sure that’s what intrigues us most about the whole magic scene. The mystery behind it all.

Second, a great magician should never reveal his/her secrets. We all know that. Harry Houdini would never do that. He would write them down in notebooks and keep them in storage for reference (Woog). Supposedly, the only two people who were aware of how to perform his escape tricks were Houdini, and his wife. But after doing a little research, I found out that there was one more individual who was very close friends with Houdini. His name was R. D. Adams, and he was the man who built all of Harry Houdini’s trick apparatuses. In some respects, he betrayed his close friend Harry, and the code of magic, by writing a book in 1929 entitled Exposing Houdini’s Tricks of Magic. It gave in depth looks at how the greatest magician of all time performed his tricks, and exposed his secrets. According to an article from the New York Times, in 1906, supposedly Houdini was forced to perform an escape trick in front of policemen, but he botched it up and the secret was revealed that he used a lock pick to escape from the handcuffs. It’s still a mystery till this day; rather this is true or completely made up. Only the ones who were there would know, and I believe they are no longer with us. So even though many have attempted to expose Houdini’s secrets, he truly is the only one who knows the science behind them all because he was the one to think them up. There was even an article from 1926 entitled Houdini Keeps His Secrets: Tricks Go to Grave with Magician, so nobody truly knows the truth about his tricks. He’s the man behind the magic.

Lastly, Houdini is “The Impossible”. He was the first magician to emerge with the powers he had. He was able to do things that nobody ever dreamed of doing, and come out of it, alive. Everybody had always dreamed of escaping from a milk can in under a minute, but nobody could accomplish the feat. Except for one. Houdini. He accomplished a trick that most would die trying to accomplish. It was an escape act, where he was in a coffin nailed shut submerged in water. He survived 91 minutes in there before escaping (Dulcinea). Again, this is an impossible feat where we only dream of being able to pull this off, and escape; alive. There had been various attempts to try and match what Houdini was doing at the time, but nobody was successful except for Houdini (Woog). He made everybody look like an amateur, even though they were great at what they were doing. I’ve read various books on Houdini, and from what I’ve noticed, there is a commonality between them all. They all describe how he was able to “out-trick” every other magician because he was so professional at what he was doing. His shows were always entertaining, he had stage assistants, and he was a true showman. He never failed to make an audience go silent: in shock. Not knowing what had just happened before their eyes: praying for him to perform it once more for them. That is truly a sign that he was indeed the greatest. He out-showed everybody. He is the impossible.

Magic is a wonderful, yet scary, thing. We love it, yet it may leave us pondering. Harry Houdini was a man who was able to leave people in shock, even with just a simple sleight of hand trick. This is what makes a real magician. Somebody who can keep his secrets hid forever, somebody who could perform the impossible. Harry Houdini is Magic, and the greatest magician of all time.

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