He rose from a lining cutter in a neck-wear factory to become one of the brightest stars in the vaudeville firmament. And he did it with an act of his own invention – escaping mysteriously from leg irons, locked prison cells, packing cases under water, riveted steel boilers – everything that could be devised to challenge his powers.
With no apparent talent at first save a winning smile and a belief in his own destiny which bordered on obsession, he fought his way to fame and the friendship of the great. He was Houdini, the most famous professional mystery man of the twentieth century.
When he died in 1926 many believed that he possessed a single secret with which he worked his wonder and that the secret perished with him. Here for the first time in one adult biography is the full story of the man behind the myth – more fascinating than the fictions he spun about himself – together with authoritative explanations of his most closely guarded methods.
The book answers once and for all the question: “Did Houdini work his escapes by some supernormal power?” He was many men in one – “handcuff king,” pioneer aviator, motion picture producer, star and stunt man, author and lecturer, smasher of spiritualistic rackets.
In these pages we follow the diabolical ingenuity of his mind through the technique of the jailbreak, the conquest of the Czar’s Siberian prison van, the development of his own Chinese Water Torture Cell, and the audience-stunning feat of apparently walking through a solid brick wall. Much of this material has never appeared in print, such as the truth behind Houdini’s adventure of being lost under the ice of a frozen river. There is new light on his “exposure” of the glamorous spirit medium, Margery, the “blond witch of Boston.”
And in the epilogue are the facts about that tragic comedy, the supposed “spirit message” from Houdini beyond the grave.