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Al Hirschfeld, illustrator, on:
meeting Houdini

Al Hirschfeld And so we used to go backstage after his performance and sit in his dressing room. And I got to know him rather well across the week. I went back every day, because I was fascinated by this. I just thought there was some kind of tricks connected with it. I’m sure there were. But I discovered after talking to him for a while, that he had really inordinate control of the muscles of his body. I mean, he would show me how he could swell his wrists, you know, before they put handcuffs on them. I’m sure there was more to it than that, but he did have complete control. He used to take his hand and show me little muscles in the center of his hand that he could pop up. He could put [a] hand down like that and pick up a quarter. I used to try to practice that, but I could never see any muscles in the center of my hand. It was really remarkable.

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