Thursday, March 24, 2011

Harry Houdini Drags Out "Return from Death" Trick into Eighty-Fourth Year

Harry Houdini: probably not this creepy in real life.

Harry Houdini—the legendary magician, escape artist, and crusading debunker of pseudo-supernatural frauds —continues to build dramatic suspense by delaying the stunning conclusion to his one-time-only “Return from Death” trick well into its eighty-fourth consecutive year.

Houdini, born Erik Weisz on March 24, 1874, was the master of daring escape tricks such as the Chinese Water Torture Cell, Buried Alive, and the Milk Can Escape, and regularly wriggled his way out of straitjackets, hand- and leg-cuffs, and even, once, the bowels of an adult Indian elephant.1 His most astounding and still-unconcluded trick, the Return from Death, commenced October 31, 1926, after his appendix ruptured, possibly aided to some degree by a series of gut-punches for which he was unprepared.

In the years since the inception of this greatest of escapes, various individuals—first his wife, Bess, and later other magicians and debunkers—have held séances in an attempt to contact Houdini’s spirit. Given Houdini’s  dedication to exposing psychic charlatans, con men, and all sorts of pseudo-mystical humbug, we are inclined to believe that séances being held in his memory would have him spinning in his grave on at least two separate axes . . . if he were actually dead, that is. His failure to respond from the great beyond strongly suggests that he remains backstage, biding his time for the perfect moment for his spectacular, sensational return.

Reports state that his audience—or at least the paltry few members of the crowd who still survive, and are aware of their surroundings—remain on the edges of their seats.

1. Not really.

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