Houdini Essay Research Paper Kendall Lace Houdini

Houdini Essay, Research Paper

Kendall, Lace Houdini Master of Escape Philadelphia: Macrae Smith Company, 1960, 187


“Ladies and gentlemen, you can see there isn’t anything up my sleeve.”1 Erich

Weiss states at the beginning of the book. Even as a child Erich Weiss, a.k.a. Harry

Houdini, knows that his goal in life is to become a world famous illusionist. It was

difficult for Erich’s family being pilgrims from Europe. His father worked hard, but being

from Germany and not knowing English made it difficult. “Promise me you will always

look after your mother and see to it that she is never in want.”2 Erich promises his father

that he will look after his mother and other brothers. At the age of thirteen he decides to

leave and join the circus. He journeys to Texas performing small, road-side shows on the

way, but only gets half-way when he turns around. Erich realizes it’s not his time.

At the age of fifteen he moves with his family to New York. That is when he

acquires his name, Harry Houdini. He dubs himself Houdini after the famous French

magician Robert Houdin. In one of his small shows in New York he spills acid on the

audience member’s dress. Little did he know how much that would change his life. He

offer to have his mother make a new dress for Miss Beatrice “Bess” Rahner. It was love

at first sight. He and Bess are married at Coney Island the day he gives her the new dress.

Often when I here of Houdini I think, and even have been told, that he died in an

escape accident. That is not only untrue it is nowhere near his true means of death.

During a performance one night he broke an ankle. That is when it all started. He began

feeling worse everyday. He had stomach pains. He waited to late. He had a ruptured

appendix and gangrene had set in. The doctors told him that he would not survive more

that twelve hours. However he fought for seven days. He died at the age of fifty-two on

October 31, 1926, Halloween.

This book was like a time machine in that it let me see into the past. I not only got

to live along with Mr. Harry Houdini, I got to visit the places he did through the words of

Lace Kendall. The place I enjoyed most was New York City. Surprisingly it was as big in

the early 1900’s as it is today. Kendall gave an accurate description of the lights and the

busy streets of New York. I felt as though I was there in New York with Houdini. The

time was not fully described, but the values of the family have definitely changed

throughout the ages. Boys were expected to work at the young age of twelve in this time.

When the father of a family died, the oldest son assumed the responsibility of taking care

of the family. Houdini was not given a direct description, but through his ways you can

tell that he was hard working man that cared as much for the art of entertainment as he did

for his family.

The best parts of the book were the accurate descriptions of the tricks that

Houdini performed. I learned tricks such as sword swallowing, vanishing acts, and the

ever famous sawing a woman in half. I also enjoyed seeing into Houdini’s past. It’s not

often that we get to see a great artist as a child.

The book did have its own weaknesses, however. Kendall didn’t go into Houdini’s life

after marriage as much as possible. I’m sure that it was because he had achieved his goal

and worked the same shows. This would provide for a boring book. Kendall did us a

favor by not telling every detail of his life. All in all this was an excellent book and would

recommend it to anyone who wants a to learn the life of a famous entertainer.


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