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Sample essay topic, essay writing: The Great Houdini - 1157 words
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The performer known world wide as HarryHoudini was born on March 24, 1874 in Budapest.Although Houdini often claimed to be born in Appleton,Wisconsin, Houdini actually came to the United States whenhe was four years old. To this day many connected with thesmall town of Appleton still claim the untruth that Houdiniwas born there strictly to attract tourists. Houdini's fatherwas Mayer Samuel Weiss. Houdini's father was a Rabbi.His mother's name was Cecilia Steiner Weiss. His parentsspoke little English, and the family was quite poor so most ofthe children began to work at an early age. From the age ofeight young Ehrich Weiss sold newspapers and worked as ashoe shine boy.
At the age of 12, young Ehrich left home tomake his way in the world in an attempt to help support hisfamily. Young Ehrich traveled the country for about a year,always sending money home when he could. Finally hejoined up with his father in New York City. The familymoved to New York in the hope of finding a better lifethere. In New York, Houdini worked as a messenger and asa cutter in a garment center sweat shop, to help support hisfamily
Houdini began performing magic as a teenager firstcalling himself Eric the Great. Ehrich acquired the nameHoudini from a book he read, 'The Memoirs ofRobert-Houdin,' the autobiography of one of the greatestmagicians of the day. Influenced by what he read andlearned about the internationally known magician RobertHoudin, young Ehrich changed his name to Houdini, hopingto be in some way like his new found mentor. Houdini's firstmagic shows consisted of card tricks and other simplemagic. Soon Houdini began experimenting with hand cuffsand using them in his acts. Houdini performed with anotheryoung man who worked with him in the factory in NewYork. They called themselves the Houdini Brothers. SoonHoudini's younger brother Theo took the place of the boyfrom the factory.
Together with his brother Theo, they triedto succeed as the Houdini Brothers. Their first performancesincluded shows at amusement parks, beer halls, 'dimemuseums,' and at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. In1894, Houdini met Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, who wassinging and dancing as part of the Floral Sisters. They wereworking Coney Island at the time. After knowing each otheronly two weeks they were married in the month of July.Bess, as she was called, worked and traveled with Houdini.Bess took Theo's place in the act that would now be called'The Houdini's'.
Houdini began offering rewards to anyonewho could successfully restrain him, first in handcuffs andlater in all manner of objects. Houdini escaped fromhandcuffs, leg irons, straight jackets, jails and prison cells, amail pouch, packing crates, a giant paper bag (withouttearing the paper), a giant football, an iron boiler, milk cans,coffins, and the famous Water Torture Cell. Some ofHoudini's escapes, such as the Straight Jacket or being tiedwith a hundred feet of rope, Houdini would do in full view ofthe audience. Houdini spent many hours studying, practicingand conditioning. For Houdini's underwater stunts, Houdiniwould practice holding his breath in the bathtub for up tofour minutes. To help draw crowds and sell tickets, Houdiniwould do escape challenges, often at police stations withnewspaper reporters present, assuring a headline story.Martin Beck, Vaudeville's most important booking agentcaught Houdini's act in 1899 and was impressed with hisdynamic personality and booked him as a 'challenge escapeartist.' Martin Beck booked the Orpheum circuit, the largestchain of vaudeville theaters in the country and booked all ofthe stars of vaudeville.
He had a trained eye for talent. Heimmediately placed Houdini in big time vaudeville as asupporting act. Houdini soon began to headline in severaltheaters throughout the country. After some success in theUnited States Houdini decided to go to Europe in the year1900. Houdini created a sensation in London, England andwent on to travel throughout Europe for five years as aheadliner. Houdini had so much work in Europe that hesummoned his brother Theo to work there under the nameHardeen.
Houdini returned to the United States, determinedto become an even bigger star in the country he loved. Hewould cris-cross between Europe and the United Statesgoing where he could get the biggest offers. As escape artistimitators popped up to take advantage of Houdini'stremendous success, Houdini began to originate new andmore difficult and dangerous escapes. Houdini invented theunderwater packing box escape as a fabulous publicity stuntthat was copied by many others. He was the first person todo the Straight Jacket Escape as well. He introduced thesensational Milk Can Escape in St. Louis on January 27,1908.
In 1913 he introduced his legendary Chinese WaterTorture Cell. This was the same year his mother died whichwas a great shock to Houdini. He was in Europe at themtime and his family had not told of his mother's illness. Hewas also the first to do the largest stage illusion to that day,making the largest object known at the time - an elephantdisappear. This was done in 1918 at the Hippodrome inNew York City.
In 1916 Houdini began a film career. Thisgave people all over the world a chance to see the greatartist. Houdini made five major silent films up until 1923. Healso wrote several of them. His films include 'The MasterMystery,' 'The Grim Game,' 'Terror Island' and 'The ManFrom Beyond.' Houdini was given one of the first stars onthe Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to the filmindustry.
The star is in a prominent spot out side ofHollywood's famous Chinese Theater. Houdini wrote andeven directed several of his movies. Houdini hated cheatsand frauds. Throughout his career Houdini exposed cheatsand frauds in the areas of gambling, spiritualism, and psychicfrauds. Houdini never believed in spiritualism, but wouldoften pretend to in order to gain entry to seances.
Houdiniwould write many books and articles throughout his life.They included 'The Right Way To Do Wrong,' an expose ofswindlers, 'A Magician Among The Spirits,' an expose ofpsychic frauds, and 'The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin,'which was up until that time the greatest book on the historyof magic. On October 22, 1926, Houdini was in Montrealperforming at the Princess Theater. In his dressing room atthe theater, while lying on a couch backstage, an youngathlete from McGill University, asked if Houdini couldactually withstand punches to the stomach as he had heard.Before Houdini could prepare himself by tightening hisstomach muscles, the student began to punch the legendarymagician in the midsection. Houdini did not know it, but hisappendix was ruptured. Houdini did several more shows inMontreal and then headed for Detroit. Houdini did oneperformance there and then collapsed and was rushed to thehospital.
Houdini did not die in an escape or fail in some finalescape as many believe. The greatest 'ghost buster' of alltime died on October 31, 1926, Halloween. No otherfamous magician worked as hard as Houdini to promote hiscraft and those around him. Houdini today is one of the bestknow performers and promoters in theatrical and film historyand Houidni's name has come to mean the ability to escapefrom any restraint or difficult situation. Houdini not onlyearned a place in history but in the dictionary as well.
Research paper and essay writing, free essay topics, sample works The Great Houdini
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