Creator / Harry Houdini
Jewish-American escape artist born March 24, 1874 (with the name Erik Weisz), died October 31, 1926 at age 52.

The preeminent Stage Magician of his time and the greatest Escape Artist of all time, Harry Houdini (who based his stage name on the French magician, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin) was one of the great entertainers in Vaudeville and became one of the highest paid in the industry. He also accepted dares to see if he could escape various police jail cells, secure transports and personal restraints, and usually did, and sometimes while nude to "prove" he wasn't carrying tools.note 

In addition to stage craft, Houdini also starred in films although that career path proved unsuccessful and even had some notoriety as an airplane pilot, doing the first flight in Australia.note 

Houdini married his stage partner Wilhelmina Beatrice "Bess" Rahner three times. Once in secret and then once in each of their houses of worship, as Houdini was Jewish and Bess Roman Catholic. They were Happily Married.

Houdini had some interest in the supernatural, but was disgusted to find the only ones available were frauds. As a result, Houdini dedicated himself to debunking claims of the paranormal by infiltrating seances to expose the fakery and showing how the fakers did it on stage. All the while, Houdini dearly hoped to find the real thing in this crusade and even arranged a secret signal that he would try to use after he died. After his death, his wife would regularly do seances trying to contact him until she gave up in 1936, saying "Ten years is enough for any man."

Namesake for tropes where a character escapes retribution for whatever reason (Idiot Houdini, Elimination Houdini, Karma Houdini, Karma Houdini Warranty).


  • Merveilleux Exploits du Célébre Houdini à Paris Cinema Lux (1909), playing himself.
  • The Master Mystery Octagon Films (1918), playing Quentin Locke.
  • The Grim Game Famous Players-Lasky / Paramount Pictures (1919), playing Harvey Handford.
  • Terror Island Famous Players-Lasky / Paramount (1920), playing Harry Harper.
  • The Man from Beyond Houdini Picture Corporation (1922), playing Howard Hillary.
  • Haldane of the Secret Service Houdini Picture Corporation / Film Booking Offices of America (1922), playing Heath Haldane.

Portrayal in fiction

Live Action TV
  • In The Great Houdinis (1976) Made-for-TV Movie, he was portrayed by Paul Micheal Glaser.
  • In the Houdini (1998) TV Movie, he was portrayed by Johnathon Schaech.
  • In the Houdini (2014) miniseries, he was portrayed by Adrien Brody.
  • In Kamen Rider Ghost (2015-16), Houdini appears as one of the 15 Heroic Spirits. Objects that represent him are his Eyecon with a bike called Machine Hoodie. In a two paired episode Houdini possesses a girl and expresses that ghosts don't exist only to be pointed out that he himself and the protagonist are ghosts.
  • In Houdini & Doyle (2016), Harry Houdini appears as one of two titular male protagonists. He was portrayed by Michael Weston.

  • In Houdini (1953) by Paramount Pictures, he was portrayed by Tony Curtis.
  • In Ragtime (1981) by Paramount Pictures, he was portrayed by Jeffery DeMunn.
  • In A Night at the Magic Castle (1988), he was portrayed by Arte Johnson.
  • In Fairytale A True Story (1997), he was portrayed by Harvey Keitel.
  • In Cremaster 2 (1999), he was portrayed by Norman Mailer.
  • In Death Defying Acts (2007), he was portrayed by Guy Pearce


  • Spanish neoclassical metal band Dark Moor have "Houdini's Great Escapade" as a song on their album Beyond the Sea.