Harry Houdini Lesson for Kids: Facts & Biography

Instructor: Anna Reinking

Anni taught elementary school for eight years and is currently teaching college. She received her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.

One man, Harry Houdini, was passionate about magic and entertaining people. He was well-known for his ability to escape handcuffs, locks, and straitjackets. In this lesson, you'll learn about the famous magician and illusionist, Harry Houdini.

Who was Harry Houdini?

Do you love magic? Do you love to be entertained? Magic, entertainment, and illusions are exactly how Harry Houdini, the most famous magician of all time, filled his career. In his magic acts, he did daring magic with amazing illusions. He made sure his audience was entertained to the fullest.

Harry Houdini

Young Houdini

It might surprise you, but Harry Houdini was not his birth name. Harry's birth name was Erich Weisz. One of seven children, he was born on March 12, 1874, in Budapest, Hungary, and his father was a Jewish rabbi. When Harry was young, his father decided to move the family to the United States. They first lived in Wisconsin and then moved to New York City. It was in the big city that Harry became very interested in the entertainment industry.

Magician Houdini

When Houdini was around the age of 20, he decided to begin his professional magic career and officially become Harry Houdini. At first, he wasn't very successful, but when people realized he could escape handcuffs, they became more interested in his act. Managers began to notice him too because he was very entertaining.

He was booked at places to perform around the United States and Europe. He became known for his escapes from shackles and locks. He eventually started doing more daring tricks, like escaping water-filled tanks, sealed packing crates, and straitjackets with locks. People loved him so much that he eventually became the highest paid American performer in Vaudeville.

Harry Houdini Escaping Locks
harry lock

At the top of his career, in 1912, Houdini did one of his most daring and dangerous acts. Houdini decided to complete an act he called the Chinese Water Torture Cell. In this trick, he was lowered upside-down into a water-filled locked glass cabinet where he then had to hold his breath for more than three minutes. That was quite a challenge. However, he did it, and after all of the positive reviews, Houdini kept that trick in his act until his death.

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