Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Harry!

Google tells me it is is Harry Houdini's 137th birthday today. He has been dead, however since Halloween night in 1926, so I don't imagine he will be up for blowing out the candles on his cake. But then again, he was the escape king, so who knows.

Actually in addition to being adept at escaping from handcuffs and straight jackets, Houdini also was obsessed with debunking mediums who claimed to communicate with the spirits. Pity he's not around to take on Zack from the Ghost Adventurers.

I read a lot about Harry Houdini when I was a kid. My interest in him was sparked by watching a movie about him starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Interesting enough, Tony Curtis' real name was Bernie Schwartz and Harry Houdini's real name was Ehrich Weisz. And one of Tony Curtis' first lines in a movie (a period piece about knights in armor) was, "Yonda is the castle of muh fadder." Tony Curtis grew up in Brooklyn. I think his best movie was Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe.

But I digress.

Houdini died of a ruptured appendix after being punched in the stomach by a fan who heard that the escape artist had such great stomach muscles he could sustain a blow in the bread box without flinching. He failed to warn Houdini before he tested this theory, however, and Houdini didn't have time to tense up his muscles for the blow. So he didn't escape death. He died a few days later on Halloween night.

His wife, Bess, ironically held seances on Halloween for years after Houdini's death because he reportedly told her if there was an afterlife, he'd send her a message, "Rosabelle believe." It was a line from a play that his wife performed when the couple first met. Bess stopped holding seances after about ten years because she never heard from Harry. This is before EVP recorders had been invented, so that may be the reason.

Magicians throughout the world, however, continue to hold seances hoping to hear from Harry and maybe talk him out of some of the secrets to his escapes. But so far Harry is laying low. I think all of these people are trying to get in touch with him on the anniversary of his death. Maybe they should try his birthday instead.

All I'm saying is that his spirit is probably in a better mood on his birthday than his death day.

Anyway, happy birthday Harry!

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